Natural resources are the foundation for our lives and lifestyles.
What would our lives be like without mining? Imagine a world without transportation such as jet planes or railroads, without communications such as cell phones or radar, without decorative items such as art or jewelry, without buildings such as skyscrapers or parking garages, without defense systems items such as missiles or submarines, without medical care items such as X-rays or surgical tools. We wouldn’t have any of these things without mining and minerals.
Iodine (element #53, symbol I) is a shiny blue-black solid element. Bernard Courtois discovered it in 1811. When iodine is heated, it sublimates, that is, it goes from a solid to a vapor without going through the liquid phase.
There are no significant iodine minerals.
Iodine is primarily retrieved from underground brines (water with many dissolved salts and ions) that are associated with natural gas and oil deposits. It is also retrieved as a by-product with nitrate deposits in caliche deposits. Chile’s production of iodine is from this source. Seawater contains 0.05 ppm (parts per million) iodine which means that there are approximately 76 billion pounds of iodine in the world’s oceans. Iodine was first discovered in seaweed. Dried seaweeds, particularly those of the Liminaria family, contain as much as 0.45% iodine. Seaweed was a major source of iodine before 1959, and is a significant source for iodine in the diets of many people around the world. Production from caliche is presently the most economical of the options listed here.
Chile is the world’s leading iodine producing nation. Japan is second. Russia also produces significant amounts of elemental iodine.