We’ve all heard of gold, silver, zinc and copper, but here are 7 lesser known resources and minerals you might have used but probably have never heard about. 

1. Hornblende

Hornblende is a mineral used in the industrial abrasives industry. It is typically used for abrasive blast cleaning.

Soon-to-be ASX debutante Australian Industrial Minerals emerged in February last year and is now undertaking an IPO to raise $5m to fund the development of its Harts Range mine, which hosts garnet and hornblende.

2. Osmium

There are actually no small cap companies looking for osmium but that might be because it is said to be the least abundant element in the Earth’s crust.

In 10,000 tons of platinum ore, equivalent to 250 truckloads, only 28 grams of osmium is found on average during mining.

It is the rarest precious metal with the highest density, and its compression and abrasion resistance even exceed that of diamonds.

When cooled down, osmium becomes a superconductor which can transport electricity without loss.

3. Kaolin

Kaolin is a clay mineral and part of the industrial minerals group that is used to make high purity alumina (HPA).

Demand for HPA from the lithium-ion battery sector is growing faster than expected. HPA is used in the separator of a battery to make lithium-ion battery chemistry more stable.

4. Caesium

Caesium is primarily used as a drilling fluid in high temperature/high pressure oil and gas drilling.

But mobile phones, GPS and the internet all operate with the help of a caesium clock, also known as an “atomic” clock. These clocks are extremely accurate in keeping time.

It is also used in vacuum tubes and radiation monitoring equipment.

5. Beryllium

Beryllium is one of the lightest metals and has one of the highest melting points of the light metals. It is used to make mobile phones, missiles and aircraft.

It is quite rare and in its raw form is classified as a carcinogen because people who are exposed to it every day, such as miners, can develop lung cancer.

6. Rubidium

Rubidium is an interesting one – it is sometimes used in fireworks to give them a purple colour.

However, the mineral is not often used outside of research purposes because of its “violent” reactions with air and water.

7. Niobium

Niobium — sometimes referred to by its old US name of columbium — is a shiny metal used in everything from hypoallergenic jewellery to jet engines to superconducting magnets.

Its major use — accounting for 90 per cent of world production — is in the making of high-strength, low-alloy steel.

Niobium is classified as a strategic metal by the US, with usage growth estimated to be 25 per cent over the next six years.

Read the full story about these minerals.