Owing to their scarce availability in nature, most of the metals that have been categorised as “precious metals” (they are quite few) have been historically considered as a form of currency. However, today they are regarded mainly as investment and industrial commodities. Nevertheless gold, silver, platinum and palladium still possess an ISO 4217 currency code, which indicates that they are not just commodities but de facto money. According to estimates, the gold acquired over the years in India is around 20,000 tonnes, the largest holdings by any country. Owing to limited bullion supplies, the demand has been largely met through imports.
Apart from the common man, central banks also have been holding gold reserves as a store of value right from the days of Gold Standard and Bretton Woods Standard. In 2009, the Government of India purchased 200 tonnes of gold from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at $6.7 billion. This purchase propelled India to the tenth position among top gold reserves holding nations.
Silver is a brilliant grey-white metal that is soft and malleable. The mining of silver began some 5000 years ago, with the first mine being in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey). The principal sources of silver are the ores of silver, silver-nickel, lead, and lead-zinc obtained from Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, China, Australia, Chile, Poland, and Serbia. Peru, Bolivia, and Mexico have been mining silver since 1546, and are still major world producers. Just over half of the mined silver comes from Mexico, Peru, China, and Australia, the four largest producing countries. Primary mines produce about one-third of the world silver, while around two-thirds come as a byproduct of gold, copper, lead, and zinc mining. The top three silver-producing mines are Cannington (Australia), Fresnillo (Mexico), and San Cristobal (Bolivia). In Central Asia, Tajikistan is known to have some of the largest silver deposits in the world.
Silver has innumerable applications in art, science, industry and beyond. At the highest level, though, demand for silver breaks down into three important categories: silver in industry, investment, and silver jewellery and décor. Together, these three areas represent more than 95% of the annual silver demand. With unique properties, including its strength, malleability, and ductility; its electrical and thermal conductivity; its sensitivity to and high reflectance of light; and the ability to endure extreme temperature; it is an element without substitution. Commercial-grade fine silver is at least 99.9% pure, and purities greater than 99.999% are available.
Silver futures and options contracts are used by mining companies, fabricators of finished products, and users of silver-content industrial materials to manage their price risk. As a precious metal, silver also plays a role in investment portfolios. The largest industrial users of silver are the photographic, jewelry, and electronic industries.
Metallurgy is one of the oldest applied sciences with history dating back to 6000 BC. Seven metals known as the Metals of Antiquity, namely gold (6000 BC), copper (4200 BC), silver (4000 BC), lead (3500 BC), tin (1750 BC), smelted iron (1500 BC), and mercury (750 BC), were the metals upon which ancient human civilizations were based. Today, there more than 85 metals known to human beings. In chemistry, the term base metal informally refers to a metal that oxidizes or corrodes relatively easily, and reacts variably with diluted hydrochloric acid to form hydrogen. It is a common and inexpensive metal, as opposed to a precious metal. Chemical, physical and aesthetic properties of the metal make them the preferred ingredients in a wide range of domestic, industrial, and technological applications.
The Indian metal industry, endowed with huge deposits of natural resources in minerals like copper, chromite, iron ore, manganese, bauxite, and gold, got a major boost in the 1990s with the onset of liberalization and open-market policies. With larger investments and technological advances pouring in, output of the industry has increased and so has the quality of the products.
It may be hard to believe but only 150 years ago aluminium was considered to be silver from clay and an extremely expensive kind of metal. Today, aluminium ranks number two in the consumption volumes among all the metals, surpassed only by steel. In the coming decades the demand for aluminium will continue increasing at unstoppable rates. Recent developments in the motor industry, the rapid growth of cities, new potential uses of aluminium as a substitute to copper in the power industry – these and many other trends mean that the winged metal is well placed to strengthen its dominant position as a key structural material of the 21st century.
In the 10 years that followed, from 1890 until 1899, global aluminium production amounted to 28 thousand tonnes. By 1930 it had increased by 10 times – to 270 thousand tonnes, which is equal to the output of today's average aluminium smelter. In the middle of the twentieth century global aluminium production amounted to 1 million tonnes a year, and in 1973 – 10 million tonnes. These trends persisted in the following decades, and in 2014, production volumes exceeded 55 million tonnes. It is expected to amount to 60 million tonnes in 2016.
The realities of the market call for risk management techniques that are critical for users of aluminium, such as producers, exporters, marketers, processors, and SMEs. When uncertainty looms large, modern techniques and strategies, including market-based risk management financial instruments like ‘Aluminium Futures’, offered on the MCX platform can improve efficiencies and consolidate competitiveness through price risk management. The importance of risk management thus cannot be overstated.
Lead is a soft, malleable, ductile, bluish-white, dense metallic element, extracted from galena and found in ore with zinc, silver and copper. 80 percent of modern lead usage is in the production of batteries. Lead is also often used to line tanks that store corrosive liquids and as a shield against X and gamma-ray radiation. The biggest producers of lead are Australia, China and USA, followed by Peru, Canada, Mexico, Sweden, Morocco, South Africa and North Korea.
Lead is principally used for manufacturing batteries, especially the ones used in automobiles, motorcycles, and electric cars. Its incredible density provides protection from radiation and is used in hospitals, dental surgeries, laboratories, and nuclear installations. Lead acid batteries provide vital back-up emergency power supply during power failures in computer installations, banks, telephone exchanges, and aircraft control towers, among others. In earthquake-prone regions, such as Japan and California, the buildings are mounted on lead shock absorbers that help minimize damage during tremors or earthquakes.
The realities of the market call for efficient risk management techniques that are important for participants, such as producers, exporters, marketers, processors, and SMEs. When the future is unknown, modern techniques and strategies, including using market-based risk management financial instruments like ‘Lead Futures’, offered on the MCX platform can improve efficiencies and consolidate competitiveness through price risk management
Of the numerous forms of energy, crude oil and natural gas combined comfortably constitute more than half of the total primary energy consumed in 2014. Due to its high energy density, easy transportability and relative abundance, crude oil has become the world's most important source of energy since the mid-1950s. Interestingly, oil finds a mention more than 4000 years ago; according to Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus there were oil pits near Babylon. However, oil was first used commercially in the 1850s when Ignacy Łukasiewicz discovered the process to distill kerosene from seep oil (petroleum seeps) that provided a cheaper alternative to whale oil. The demand for the petroleum as a fuel then quickly grew; leading to the world's first commercial oil well in Poland in 1854, constructed by Łukasiewicz. Interestingly, Lukasiewicz is also credited with the invention of the kerosene lamp (1853) and the introduction of the first street lamps in Europe (1853).
Natural gas, a combustible mixture of hydrocarbon gases is largely known for its clean and safe source of energy. As early as about 500 BC, the Chinese discovered the potential of natural gas seeping through the earth’s surface. They used it to boil sea water, separating the salt and making it drinkable. Around 1785, Britain became the first country to commercialize the use of natural gas; natural gas produced from coal was used to light houses as well as streetlights.