Metals are everywhere: they are used in all areas of construction; they have innumerable industrial applications, they are used in countless consumer goods, as components in jewelry, and as currency. The mining of minerals provides the raw materials for the metal industry. The market for metals is vast and affected by hundreds of factors, ranging from weather conditions at mining locations to oil prices (which causes the cost of shipping the minerals to fluctuate). Metals are widely traded on exchanges around the world in locations such as New York, Chicago, London, Tokyo, Dubai, and Shanghai, among others. The largest and oldest exchange for non-ferrous metals is the London Metal Exchange.
Metals commodities can be divided into two categories: precious and industrial. Precious metals are mined metals that are in their pure elemental form, and they usually are considered of high value. Precious metals include gold, silver, platinum and palladium. Gold has historically been traded as a currency and commodity. It is used in jewelry and it also has industrial applications in electronics. Silver is also used as currency, in jewelry, and in many manufacturing processes. Platinum has both industrial and jewelry uses.
Industrial metals include both non-ferrous and ferrous metals. Non-ferrous metals are metals that do not contain iron such as aluminum, copper, lead, nickel, tin, and zinc, among others. They are used for used for electrical and electronic purposes and for structural applications that need reduced weight, higher strength, or nonmagnetic properties, or the ability to resist corrosion.
Derived from iron ore, ferrous metals are the most abundant of all commercial metals. Steel (including stainless steel, alloy steel, carbon steel) is a ferrous metal. These metals are mostly used in construction and production of goods such as pipes, cables, and cutlery.