Critical minerals in infrastructure

Critical minerals resources: Modern life doesn't grow on trees

Minerals can be combined and used at large scales to create our infrastructure! The items in this section are based on some of the main elements used in infrastructure. Machinery, buildings and transport networks are just a few of the larger-scale areas that rely on critical materials.

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© Drazen_ / iStock

Perhaps the best known of these minerals is haematite, a major ore of iron. Iron is used in many large-scale structures like ships, cars and industrial machinery and 35 per cent of the world’s supply comes from Australia.

Bauxite is a sedimentary rock, not a mineral, but it is a primary ore of aluminium. In most cases, aluminium is alloyed with other metals to strengthen materials that are used to make vehicles like cars and planes, and structures like frames and windows. Bauxite is also the main source of the element gallium, which is used in semiconductors, circuitry and LEDs.

Vanadinite, an ore of vanadium, is mined mostly in Morocco and Namibia. It is a secondary mineral formed from chemical alterations of pre-existing minerals. Vanadium is used to strengthen steel as well as in batteries for grid energy storage.

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