Minor metals are so called because of unfamiliarity; they are so widely dispersed that their production is feasible in areas where there are high concentrations.
These metals are extracted as by-products of other ores such as aluminium, copper or nickel in which they are found in low concentrations. Many of them are scarce and of great economic importance because of their applications in cutting-edge technology in different sectors and in renewable energies. Most of them are used as addition elements in ferrous or non-ferrous metals to form different steels and alloys.
Types of minor metals
The best known minor metals are antimony, manganese, bismuth, selenium and mercury.
The chemical element with atomic number 51 from group 15 of the periodic table of the elements. It is mainly used in alloys, especially lead alloys. It is not abundant in nature and is mostly found as an isomorphous mixture with arsenic (allemonite). In liquid form it has a higher electrical conductivity than in solid form, unlike other metals. It has a density of 6697 kg/m3 and a melting point of 631 °C. The leading countries in the production of this material are China, Russia and Tajikistan.
It is the chemical element with atomic number 25 in group 7 of the periodic table of the elements. It is found free in nature and often in combination with iron and in many ores. It is very important in the manufacture of steel. It has a density of 7430 kg/m3 and its melting point is 1246 °C. Major producers are South Africa, Australia, China and Gabon.
Bismuth is the chemical element with atomic number 83 in group 15 of the periodic table of the elements. It is a rare element in the earth's crust. It expands on solidification and is diamagnetic. It occurs in nature as a free metal and in ores.
It has a melting point of 271 °C and a density of 9800 kg/m3. It is an ideal metal for foundries. The largest producers of this metal are China, Mexico, Russia, Canada and Bolivia.
It is the chemical element with atomic number 34 in the periodic table of the elements. It has the photoelectric effect, i.e. it converts light into electricity and when exposed to light its electrical conductivity increases. It is widely distributed in the earth's crust. The largest producers are China, Russia, Norway and the United States. It has a density of 4790 kg/m3 and a melting point of 221 °C.
It is the chemical element with atomic number 80 in the periodic table of the elements. It is the only metallic element that is liquid at room temperature. It is a rare element in the earth's crust and occurs in deposits throughout the world mainly as mercury sulphide (cinnabar) and is found in its natural form. It is mainly used in the manufacture of industrial chemicals or in electrical and electronic applications. It has a density of 13534 kg/m3 and its melting point is at -39 °C. The largest producers of mercury are China, Indonesia and Tajikistan.
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