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Uranium, Rhodium and Cobalt

3 valuable metals in demand

The In-situ recovery process is the cheapest method of uranium mining. It produces a smaller footprint than the previous methods and has a lower environmental impact. The process works by pumping an oxygen-rich solution deep into the uranium deposit and oxidizes and dissolves the uranium trapped in the porous rock. The enriched solution is then pumped back to the surface, where it undergoes additional processing and is marketed as yellowcake.

Moreover, uranium mining produces toxic waste. The IAEA supports Member States in all aspects of the Uranium Production Cycle by providing databases, publications, and technical workshops. The agency also offers technical advice on various aspects of the process. There are many factors to consider when deciding where to mine uranium and what to do with the waste. It is critical to ensure that uranium production takes place responsibly.

Uranium is a naturally occurring element with many benefits. Although there are a number of health risks associated with its use, only a few of these are well-known. In general, uranium exposure is not a cause for alarm. Exposure to uranium is most often caused by ingestion, whereas exposure to airborne uranium can cause skin disruption. The dermal absorption of soluble forms of uranium is possible, but not considered significant. The rate of airborne uranium exposure depends on particle size and solubility. The absorption rate of soluble forms is moderate and is mostly eliminated through the kidneys. While a small amount of uranium is excreted in the urine, a significant portion of uranium is retained in the blood and transported to the liver for filtration.



Rhodium is a metal that is used for a variety of industrial purposes. The most common use for rhodium is in catalytic converters in cars, which clean exhaust emissions. Rhodium is exceptionally effective at breaking down nitrous oxide molecules, a type of poisonous gas released by fossil fuel powered engines and vehicles. These emissions can cause irreversible damage to human health. Because of its high-tech uses, rhodium is becoming increasingly popular with the growing awareness of environmental issues.

Industrial applications for rhodium include electronic devices, specialty optical instruments, and aircraft turbine engines. Rhodium is also used in three-way catalytic converters in automobiles to convert harmful hydrocarbon gases into less harmful substances. In fact, 80% of the world's annual rhodium supply goes to making autocatalysts. This demand will continue to grow in the coming years, and rhodium is expected to account for over 80% of total autocatalyst demand.

Despite its scarcity, rhodium is considered a rare and valuable metal. It is often used as an alloying agent to harden platinum. The metal is extremely reflective and does not tarnish in room temperature. It is frequently used as a plating material on metal objects, and polishes well to create permanent and attractive surfaces.


Cobalt is a byproduct of copper mining and is found primarily in the Congo. However, many copper mines cannot expand their output without increasing the price of copper, so the Congo is the source of most cobalt in the world. Aside from the larger mines, a large part of the supply comes from "artisanal" mining, where small-scale informal miners dig up a significant percentage of the cobalt in the Congo. This is actually more cobalt than is produced by the entire Russian Federation.

Demand for cobalt is expected to increase dramatically as electric vehicles take to the road. But it's important to remember that cobalt mining has a dark side. The mining of the mineral uses large quantities of fossil fuels and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the DRC is the source of about 60% of the world's cobalt, and nearly three quarters of its population lives in poverty. The government must take steps to ensure that mining is sustainable and isn't damaging the environment.

Although the mineral cobalt is used in electric cars and gas turbines, it has also found use in other industries. Historically, it was consumed by the glass and ceramic industries, where it was used as a colouring agent. Today, about 80 percent of cobalt is used in its metallic form. It is found associated with copper and nickel in the deep sea. These ores can contain up to 120 million tonnes of cobalt.

Since the rise of electric cars, cobalt demand has tripled over the past five years. By 2020, demand for cobalt in batteries will more than double. Companies such as Tesla, which is building a $5 billion battery factory in Nevada, Daimler, and LG Chem are all building battery plants.