• Cadmium
  • Mines Producing Cadmium

Most people are aware of cadmium being a major component in the manufacturing of re-chargeable nickel-cadmium batteries and its wide use in electroplating of steel as a prevention against corrosion. Deposits of cadmium are extremely rare and when they are located they are usually quite small. It is, however, a natural occurring trace element of phosphate.

Cadmium is Obtained as a By-Product of the Smelting and Refining of Sulphide Ores
The only cadmium mineral of any economic importance is that of Greenockite (CdS) that is mostly associated with sphalerite (ZnS). It is, in the main, obtained for commercial purposes as a by- product in the mining industry through the smelting and refining of sulphide ores of copper and lead, specifically zinc.
Cadmium has a close resemblance to mercury and zinc. It is soft and in metal form a bluish-white colour. It is both ductile and malleable and is highly resistant to corrosion. It has wide uses in industry but by far its main use is in re-chargable batteries and in electroplating steel.

Cadmium is Inflammable but can Release Toxic Fumes
Cadmium is non-burnable and when in solid form it releases toxic fumes. It is also insoluble in water. It is considered an undesirable product in fertiliser and its production is forbidden in some countries because of environmental concerns. China is the largest producer of cadmium having produced more than 5,600 tonnes in 2010.

Cadmium Used by Van Gogh, Edison and Junger
Cadmium is present throughout the environment and is naturally occurring in both the Earth's water and crust. It was first isolated in Germany in 1817 as a by-product of zinc refining. It found use in the 1850's as a pigment used in paintings because of its brilliant yellow, orange, and red colours. In fact cadmium sulphide was used by Vincent Van Gogh in his painting in the late 1800's. Cadmium was produced in Germany before World War One for industrial purposes and Waldemar Junger in Sweden along with Thomas A. Edison in the United States created the first nickel-cadmium batteries in the early years of the 20th century. The most important use, however, was as a corrosion protection in the coating of steel and iron products.

Recycling of Cadmium Responsible for 23 Percent of the Worlds Supply
Cadmium metal is produced today as a by-product following the smelting and refining of nonferrous metals such as copper, lead and zinc. Instead of engineers having to worry about disposing is as waste into the environment it is now collected and sold for various industrial applications. It is also obtained by recycling used nickel-cadmium batteries. Recycling accounts for 23 percent of the total world supply of the metal.

Cadmium is not Readily Bio-Available
Cadmium embedded into the products it is used in do not leach as do many other metals. This makes it not readily bio-available. For example; plastic, glass, enamel and ceramic products coloured with the use of cadmium sulphide pigments are all completely insoluble and pose no danger to the environment.

Cadmium Exposure Successfully Addressed
Uncontrolled exposure to cadmium either through excessive concentrations or long term association with the raw product can be injurious to human health especially to a persons kidneys or lungs. Workers in the industry who are occupationally exposed are the most vulnerable, however, exposure levels throughout the world are now under strict control and all workers who are occupationally exposed are continuously monitored and kept at a safe level at all times.

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