Smartphone Technology relies on Metals and Minerals

More than 30 elements are used to build a single smartphone

Mining & Minerals 101

More than 30 elements are used to build a single smartphone. With 1.35 billion units shipped in 2021, and 1.53 billion units expected to ship in 2025 the demand for digital technologies will require minerals and precious metals from the ground to support increasing demand.1

Additionally, many of the metals and minerals used in smartphones are also critical to supporting the green energy transition. From electric car batteries to wind and solar, the mining of critical metals and minerals is critical to 21st century technologies.

Click each smartphone component to find out more
Smartphone components metals and mining
1

A smartphone screen is made up of a combination of materials including indium tin oxide for the transparent film, aluminosilicate (mixture of alumina and silicate) in the glass, and a variety of Rare Earth element compounds.

Click each element to find out more.
smartphone minerals metals tin

Tin Discovered 2100 BC

Smartphone part(s)
Screen
Amount in smartphone
0.66g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
30%
Found Primarily
1. China, 2. Indonesia, 3. Burma
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
No
Fun Fact
Historians think that as early as 1500 B.C., Phoenicians traveled by sea to the Cornwall district of England to obtain tin. In more modern times, the London Metal Exchange (LME) was launched in 1877 on the back of copper, pig iron, and tin trading.
smartphone minerals metals silicon

Silicon Discovered 1824

Smartphone part(s)
Chip and Screen Glass
Amount in smartphone
8.14g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
29%
Found Primarily
N/A
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes
Fun Fact
Silicon is the second most abundant element on Earth, after oxygen.
smartphone minerals metals molybdenum

Molybdenum Discovered 1781

Smartphone part(s)
Screen
Amount in smartphone
0.02g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
13%
Found Primarily
1. China, 2. United States, 3. Peru
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes
Fun Fact
Molybdenum has the third highest melting point of metal and is used to improve the strength of steel. It's used in missiles, aircraft, and nuclear energy.
smartphone minerals metals indium

Indium Discovered 1863

Smartphone part(s)
Screen
Amount in smartphone
Not Available
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
7.6% CAGR to 2030 (80% cumulative)
Found Primarily
1. China, 2. Korea, 3. Canada & Japan
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes
Fun Fact
Indium tin oxide is one of the most widely used transparent conducting oxides because of its electrical conductivity and optical transparency. Touchscreens wouldn't exist without it.
smartphone minerals metals terbium

Terbium Discovered 1843

Smartphone part(s)
Vibration unit, Liquid crystal display
Amount in smartphone
Not Available
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
195%-434% depending on stated policy or sustainable development goals
Found Primarily
1. China, 2. Vietnam, 3. Brazil & Russia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes – for battery and wind
Fun Fact
Rare earth metals are a key component of the green energy transition helping to support magnets, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.
smartphone minerals metals praseodymium

Praseodymium Discovered 1885

Smartphone part(s)
Speaker & Microphone, Liquid crystal display
Amount in smartphone
Not Available
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
195%-434% depending on stated policy or sustainable development goals
Found Primarily
1. China, 2. Vietnam, 3. Brazil & Russia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes – for battery and wind
Fun Fact
Rare earth metals are a key component of the green energy transition helping to support magnets, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.
smartphone minerals metals europium

Europium Discovered 1901

Smartphone part(s)
Battery, Liquid crystal display
Amount in smartphone
Not Available
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
195%-434% depending on stated policy or sustainable development goals
Found Primarily
1. China, 2. Vietnam, 3. Brazil & Russia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes – for battery and wind
Fun Fact
Rare earth metals are a key component of the green energy transition helping to support magnets, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.
smartphone minerals metals dysprosium

Dysprosium Discovered 1886

Smartphone part(s)
Vibration unit, Liquid crystal display
Amount in smartphone
Not Available
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
195%-434% depending on stated policy or sustainable development goals
Found Primarily
1. China, 2. Vietnam, 3. Brazil & Russia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes – for battery and wind
Fun Fact
Rare earth metals are a key component of the green energy transition helping to support magnets, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.
smartphone minerals metals gadolinium

Gadolinium Discovered 1880

Smartphone part(s)
Speaker & Microphone, Liquid crystal display
Amount in smartphone
Not Available
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
195%-434% depending on stated policy or sustainable development goals
Found Primarily
1. China, 2. Vietnam, 3. Brazil & Russia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes – for battery and wind
Fun Fact
Rare earth metals are a key component of the green energy transition helping to support magnets, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.
smartphone minerals metals lanthanum

Lanthanum Discovered 1839

Smartphone part(s)
Liquid crystal display
Amount in smartphone
Not Available
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
195%-434% depending on stated policy or sustainable development goals
Found Primarily
1. China, 2. Vietnam, 3. Brazil & Russia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes – for battery and wind
Fun Fact
Rare earth metals are a key component of the green energy transition helping to support magnets, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.

A smartphone’s casing needs to be resistant to potential shock damage (such as a dropping your phone) and waterproof (increasing feature of newer smartphone models). This makes metals like aluminium, nickel, and magnesium the ideal materials for smartphone casing.

Click each element to find out more.
smartphone minerals metals nickel

Nickel Discovered 1715

Smartphone part(s)
Microphone, Battery, Casing, Electrical Connections
Amount in smartphone
2.72g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
31%
Found Primarily
1. Australia & Indonesia, 2. Brazil, 3. Russia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes
Fun Fact
Nickel supplies four critical demand sources: stainless steel, electroplating, superalloys and now batteries. Stainless steel has grown at 2x GDP since 1950 alone.
Learn More
smartphone minerals metals magnesium

Magnesium Discovered 1755

Smartphone part(s)
Casing
Amount in smartphone
0.65g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
5.3% CAGR to 2030 (51% cumulative)
Found Primarily
1. Russia, 2. China, 3. Slovakia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
No
Fun Fact
Magnesium remains critical to Aluminum production, a market 72,000x its size.
smartphone minerals metals aluminum

Aluminum Discovered 1825

Smartphone part(s)
Case
Amount in smartphone
31.14g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
17.70%
Found Primarily
1. China, 2. India, 3. Russia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes – for electricity networks only
Fun Fact
Aluminum has many uses and fills markets where steel is too heavy or copper is too expensive.

A modern smartphone is a marvel of miniscule electronic parts from gold and tantalum for microelectrical components and microcapacitors, through to Gallium for semiconductors, Copper for wiring, and Zinc for circuit boards. These commodities are selected for their electrical resistance amongst other properties that make them ideal for microelectrical components.

Click each element to find out more.
smartphone minerals metals gold

Gold Discovered 6000 BC

Smartphone part(s)
Microelectrical components
Amount in smartphone
0.014g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
9.40%
Found Primarily
1. Australia, 2. Russia, 3. South Africa
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
No
Fun Fact
It is estimated that 6.5bn ounces of gold have been produced since antiquity. Each ounce would find a buyer at $1800/oz.
smartphone minerals metals tantalum

Tantalum Discovered 1802

Smartphone part(s)
Micro-capacitors (filtering & frequency tuning)
Amount in smartphone
0.02g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
30%
Found Primarily
1. Australia, 2. Brazil, 3. N/A
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
No
Fun Fact
Tantalum is critical to turbines (enabling power and flight), along with airbag performance (when needed) in every vehicle.
Learn More
smartphone minerals metals gallium

Gallium Discovered 1875

Smartphone part(s)
Semiconductors
Amount in smartphone
0.01g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
24.5% CAGR to 2030 (577% cumulative)
Found Primarily
1. United States, 2. Russia, 3. China
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
No
Fun Fact
Gallium enjoys wide applications in aerospace, defense applications, high-performance computers, industrial equipment, and telecommunications.
smartphone minerals metals silicon

Silicon Discovered 1824

Smartphone part(s)
Chip and Screen Glass
Amount in smartphone
8.14g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
29%
Found Primarily
N/A
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes
Fun Fact
Silicon is the second most abundant element on Earth, after oxygen.
smartphone minerals metals copper

Copper Discovered Prehistoric

Smartphone part(s)
Wiring
Amount in smartphone
7.8g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
19%
Found Primarily
1. Chile, 2. Australia, 3. Peru
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes
Fun Fact
Although copper launched the Bronze Age, its growing use in driving the global electrification trend will be critical to achieving Energy Transition over the next 20-30 years.
smartphone minerals metals iron

Iron Discovered 3500 BC

Smartphone part(s)
Microphone and Speakers
Amount in smartphone
18.63g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
6%
Found Primarily
1. Australia, 2. Brazil, 3. Russia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
No
Fun Fact
Iron is the most critical metal to industrialization and transformation of human livelihoods and wellbeing on planet Earth.
smartphone minerals metals zinc

Zinc Discovered 1746

Smartphone part(s)
Circuit Boards
Amount in smartphone
0.69g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
17%
Found Primarily
1. Australia, 2. China, 3. Russia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes
Fun Fact
Zinc is used to coat iron, to prevent corrosion through galvanization. 16% of global steel output is galvanized; however, 60% of zinc demand is galvanization.
smartphone minerals metals terbium

Terbium Discovered 1843

Smartphone part(s)
Vibration unit, Liquid crystal display
Amount in smartphone
Not Available
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
195%-434% depending on stated policy or sustainable development goals
Found Primarily
1. China, 2. Vietnam, 3. Brazil & Russia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes – for battery and wind
Fun Fact
Rare earth metals are a key component of the green energy transition helping to support magnets, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.

A smartphone’s battery is one the most important features of the phone and manufacturer’s are always looking to increase battery life for users. Nickel, Lithium, and Cobalt are prized metals for development of smartphone batteries with a long battery life.

Click each element to find out more.
smartphone minerals metals nickel

Nickel Discovered 1715

Smartphone part(s)
Microphone, Battery, Casing, Electrical Connections
Amount in smartphone
2.72g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
31%
Found Primarily
1. Australia & Indonesia, 2. Brazil, 3. Russia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes
Fun Fact
Nickel supplies four critical demand sources: stainless steel, electroplating, superalloys and now batteries. Stainless steel has grown at 2x GDP since 1950 alone.
Learn More
smartphone minerals metals lithium

Lithium Discovered 1817

Smartphone part(s)
Battery
Amount in smartphone
0.87g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
486%
Found Primarily
1. Chile, 2. Australia, 3. Argentina
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes
Fun Fact
The consumption of no metallic element has accelerated as fast as lithium. Perhaps it’s a good thing that it is the 33rd most abundant element in nature and is distributed widely in trace amounts in rocks, soils, and surface, ground, and sea waters.
smartphone minerals metals cobalt

Cobalt Discovered 1739

Smartphone part(s)
Battery
Amount in smartphone
6.59g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
29%
Found Primarily
1. Congo, 2. Australia, 3. Indonesia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes
Fun Fact
Cobalt is critical to the superalloy, battery, catalyst, and electronics industry for its unique properties.
smartphone minerals metals manganese

Manganese Discovered 1774

Smartphone part(s)
Battery
Amount in smartphone
0.65g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
416%
Found Primarily
1. South Africa, 2. Australia & Brazil, 3. Ukraine
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes
Fun Fact
Manganese sulfate is also used in fertilizers and ceramics.

A smartphone’s microphone and speakers are typically located at the top and bottom of a phone and are improving with each new model. The minerals used to create smartphone microphones and speakers are typically Nickel, Iron, Praseodymium and Gadolinium.

Click each element to find out more.
smartphone minerals metals iron
Iron Discovered 3500 BC
Smartphone part(s)
Microphone and Speakers
Amount in smartphone
18.63g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
6%
Found Primarily
1. Australia, 2. Brazil, 3. Russia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
No
Fun Fact
Iron is the most critical metal to industrialization and transformation of human livelihoods and wellbeing on planet Earth.
smartphone minerals metals nickel
Nickel Discovered 1715
Smartphone part(s)
Microphone, Battery, Casing, Electrical Connections
Amount in smartphone
2.72g
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
31%
Found Primarily
1. Australia & Indonesia, 2. Brazil, 3. Russia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes
Fun Fact
Nickel supplies four critical demand sources: stainless steel, electroplating, superalloys and now batteries. Stainless steel has grown at 2x GDP since 1950 alone.
Learn More
smartphone minerals metals praseodymium
Praseodymium Discovered 1885
Smartphone part(s)
Speaker & Microphone, Liquid crystal display
Amount in smartphone
Not Available
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
195%-434% depending on stated policy or sustainable development goals
Found Primarily
1. China, 2. Vietnam, 3. Brazil & Russia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes – for battery and wind
Fun Fact
Rare earth metals are a key component of the green energy transition helping to support magnets, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.
smartphone minerals metals gadolinium
Gadolinium Discovered 1880
Smartphone part(s)
Speaker & Microphone, Liquid crystal display
Amount in smartphone
Not Available
Projected Demand Increase (by 2030)
195%-434% depending on stated policy or sustainable development goals
Found Primarily
1. China, 2. Vietnam, 3. Brazil & Russia
Identified as a Clean Energy Metal?
Yes – for battery and wind
Fun Fact
Rare earth metals are a key component of the green energy transition helping to support magnets, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.

Source of Data

  1. Opening data: IDC.com, Worldwide Smartphone Usage, 2021
  2. Year Discovered: The Royal Society of Chemistry (rsc.org)
  3. Smartphone Part(s): Visual Capitalist https://elements.visualcapitalist.com/critical-metals-in-a-smartphone/, CompoundChem.com https://www.compoundchem.com/
  4. Amount in Smartphone: 911Metallurgist.com
  5. Projected Demand Increase: RCF Proprietary Analysis, The International Atomic Energy Agency (www.iaea.org), AME, Roskill, USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries 2022, ITA, BNEF, CRU, and Macquarie. Note that ranges for rare earth metals are dependent on stated policy or sustainable development goals.
  6. Identified as a Clean Energy Metal: The International Atomic Energy Agency (www.iaea.org)

Important Information

This information should not be deemed to be a recommendation of any specific commodity, company, or security.

This material is provided for educational purposes only and should not be construed as research. The information presented is not a complete analysis of the commodities landscape. The opinions expressed may change as subsequent conditions vary. The information and opinions contained in this material are derived from proprietary and non-proprietary sources deemed by Resource Capital Funds and/or its affiliates (together, “RCF”) to be reliable. No representation is made that this information is accurate or complete. There is no guarantee that any forecasts made will come to pass. Reliance upon information in this material is at the sole discretion of the reader.

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