Mn on the periodic table, manganese is one of the world’s essential metallic commodities.
We’ll explain where it comes from, who buys it and where it ends up.
Where does it come from?
Like all metals, manganese is mined from geological features that contain high-enough concentrations.
Most elements are present throughout the Earth’s crust, but finding large quantities in small, easily-accessible patches of Terra is what exploration is all about.
South Africa holds the largest reserves of Mn at 78% of the total and is the world’s largest exporter.
China is the second-largest producer, followed by Australia. Other Mn-producing countries include Gabon, Brazil, India, Ghana, Ukraine, Mexico and Malaysia.
Where does it go?
Manganese is traded predominantly at ports in China; ore is sold into the spot market or under longer-term contracts.
From the ports, it is sold to ferroalloy producers (smelters), who refine the ore material further into blocks of manganese metal and alloys.
These alloys are sold to steel producers to manufacture particularly hard and corrosion-resistant steel.
How is it used?
Manganese steel is so strong that it is great for military hardware and construction, but it is also crucial for making low-cost stainless steel for surgical and food applications.
The armed forces used helmets made from manganese steel at the turn of the 20th century, famously known as Hadfield Steel.
You probably use manganese-based items every day, since a small amount of Mn is present in many lithium-ion batteries.
Mn is also found in many medicines and is a vital human nutrient derived in small quantities from some plants and animals.
Interestingly, the amethyst gem gets its purple colour from a little bit of Manganese.
So not just Mn on the periodic table, after all.
This article is provided by Core Consultants as a learning resource for those interested in how metals affect their lives.
We offer regular in-depth coverage of the manganese industry on a subscription basis.