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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2005-1209

Indium in Zinc-Lead and Other Mineral Deposits -- A Reconnaissance Survey of 1118 Indium Analyses Published Before 1985

Published 2005

By Joseph A. Briskey


Indium is a very soft, silvery-white metal. Alloys of indium can be plated onto metal and evaporated onto glass in a variety of critical technology applications. Its uses include: the manufacture of portable computer screens, television screens, video monitors, watches, infrared detectors, high-speed transistors, high-efficiency photovoltaic devices, electrical fuses, dental alloys, solders, nuclear control rods, fog- and frost-free windshields, and energy-efficient windows and light-emitting diodes (George, 2004 and 2005).

World consumption of indium is increasing. Imports by the United States increased 10 percent in 2003, the last year for which import data are available. The United States is 100 percent reliant on imported indium from China (49%), Canada (21%), Japan (9%), France (6%), and other countries (15%). (George, 2005 and 2004).

Indium does not form primary mineral deposits, but is recovered principally as a byproduct from the smelting of the zinc-sulfide mineral sphalerite to make zinc metal. Higher concentrations of indium occur in tin minerals in certain types of tin deposits, but are difficult to recover economically.

The growing use of indium in high-tech applications, total U.S. import dependency, and a restricted supply dependent on the production of other metals like zinc, make it imperative to have a better understanding of indium distribution and concentration in a wide variety of minerals and mineral deposits around the world.

This report provides a reconnaissance summary and survey of 1118 indium analyses of a diverse suite of minerals, including monomineralic and polymineralic ores and mineral concentrates, from 12 mineral-deposit types, principally zinc-lead deposits, from 16 countries. These analyses are presented in table 1, which was compiled in 1984 from published literature. Analyses are reported for 159 single samples or multi-sample suites variably composed of 16 minerals, mainly sulfides.


Open-File Report 2005-1209 [165-KB Adobe PDF file]
Table 1 [49-KB Excel file]

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For scientific questions or comments concerning this report, contact Joseph A. Briskey.

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