Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition Page: 395
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pendability and long life to heavy-duty and
high-speed bearings. It can be plated on or
alloyed with silver-lead, copper-lead, and cad-
mium alloy bearing surfaces to make them
harder, stronger, more corrosion resistant, and
more retentive of an oil film by increasing
wettability. Indium-coated bearings are used
in gasoline and diesel engines.
Indium is used in many special alloys. De-
spite its softness, small quantities of the metal
harden and strengthen aluminum, lead, and
beryllium-copper. Lead-indium alloys, highly
resistant to corrosion, are used in chemical proc-
essing equipment. Low melting indium alloys
are used in surgical casts, foundry patterns,
and fusible safety-plugs or links. Indium has
been used as an oxygen scavenger in gold dental
alloys. It increases the tensile strength and
ductility of gold and improves its resistance to
tarnish. Some indium is used in jewelry and
silverware alloys to keep metals bright.
Indium is used as an ingredient in many
solders and brazing compounds. In gasoline
it increases mechanical efficiency and gives
cooler running engines. It is used in heavy-
duty lubricants. Indium mirrors reflect all
colors of the spectrum, and indium foil can be
used to detect radioactivity. Batteries smaller
than a penny using a positive terminal of in-
dium were developed for electronic watches
that can operate at constant voltage for two
years. The oxide is used in glass to give colors
ranging from canary yellow to tangerine
orange. An electric current passed through a
tin-bearing indium oxide film on aircraft wind-
shields prevents fogging and icing. Some in-
dium alloys are capable of wetting glass and
making glass-to-glass or glass-to-metal seals.
RELATIONSHIPS TO OTHER COMMODITIES
Indium supply is dependent on zinc produc-
tion and it is one of many byproducts, such
as cadmium, gallium, germanium, and thallium,
which are recovered in the reduction of zinc
Substitutes for indium to prolong bearing
life and combat corrosion are difficult; to find.
A less costly lead-tin overlay is an alternate to
lead-indium bearings, but the antiseizure prop-
erties and service are not as good as in lead-
indium bearings. For some uses, such as in
dental alloys and in sealing glass joints, gallium
can be substituted for indium; however, gallium
is costlier than indium.
The indium content of U.S. measured and
indicated zinc reserves is roughly estimated to
be 320 short tons. The potential indium pro-
duction capacity for countries can be estimated
by assuming that zinc ores contain 0.0024 per-
In the interest of conservation some com-
panies stockpile residues containing indium for
future recovery of the element. Indium also is
sometimes recovered from waste plating solu-
tions and rinse waters.
SOURCES OF STATISTICAL INFORMATION
Data on production, consumption, shipments
and stocks of domestically produced indium are
obtained by the Bureau of Mines through in-
dustrial canvassing. Data on imports and ex-
ports of indium are not available because no
separation is made of indium figures from those
of other miscellaneous materials.
PRODUCTION, CONSUMPTION, AND FOR-
Markets were found for an estimated 20 tons
of domestic and imported indium in the United
States in 1957, the peak year. Data are not
available that give the fashion in which this
indium was used. More indium was produced
in the United States in 1957 than in any previ-
ous year. The Bureau of Mines does not pub-
lish confidential data on production obtained
from producers of indium. The Anaconda Co.
publicized it produced 87,600 troy ounces of
indium in 1956.
The Consolidated Mining & Smelting Co. of
Canada, Ltd., Trail, B.C., is a very large pro-
ducer of indium. In 1957 and 1958, respec-
tively, it produced an estimated 385,000 and
69,000 troy ounces of indium and exported most
of it to the United States and United Kingdom.
Occasionally Cerro de Pasco Corp., La Oroya,
Peru, produces indium, and much of its produc-
tion is also exported to the United States.
SELF-SUFFICIENCY AND STRATEGIC CON-
The pattern for indium is undergoing rapid
change, and the future requirements cannot be
forecast reliably. The United States is the
major consumer, and since domestic plants pro-
duce less than the supply needed, it is also a
large importer. Indium is not on the Govern
ment's list of strategic and critical materials
E&MJ Metal and Mineral Markets quoted the
following declining prices per troy ounce of
99.9 percent pure indium: $30 to $15 in 1942,
$15 to $10 in 1943, $10 to $7.50 in 1944, $7.50,
$4, $3, to $2.25 in 1945, and $2.25 since 1945. In
1958 standard grade indium was quoted at $1.25
to $2.25 per troy ounce in lots of 5,000 or more
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United States. Bureau of Mines. Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition, report, 1960; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38790/m1/403/: accessed July 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.