All That Glitters Is Indeed Gold

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"The industrial demand for gold in 2008 was estimated at 430t. . .about 12% of total end-user consumption."

The predicted growth in consumer electronics in the future looks set to be a good end market for gold.

The world's fourth most-traded commodity is no longer just being used in jewelry, but also plays a significant role in several industries. The industrial demand for gold in 2008 was estimated at 430 t, which is about 12% of total end user consumption.

The main consuming industry for gold is the electronics industry, which, in 2007, used over 300 t of gold in bonding wire, which is used in semiconductor chips and electroplated coatings on contacts and connectors, organization for gold-mining companies World Gold Council head of industrial applications Dr Richard Holliday tells Mining Weekly.

Gold is mostly used in computers and mobile phones. It is not unusual for a computer to contain over $5 of gold on the circuit boards. "As the consumer electronic market grows, it is important that gold retains its position as 'the material of choice'," says Holliday.

Gold is a widely used metal in several industries, but it depends on the application. "Although it is not as good as copper or silver, gold is also used in the electronics industry, as it is a good conductor of electricity. "Because it is highly resistant to corrosion, it has excellent reliability, wherever it is used." A cheaper metal, such as copper, usually experiences higher failure rates in service.

"In other applications, the benefits of gold are related to different properties. Its long use as a dental alloy has been sustained by the unrivalled biocompatibility of gold in the human body. It is also used as a coating on firefighters' helmet visors because gold has the ability to reflect heat," Holliday explains.

The world's largest broadcaster, the British Broadcasting Corporation, has also reported that the McLaren F1 supercar's engine bay is lined with gold because of its heat-reflecting properties, which protects the carbon fiber body of the vehicle from the heat generated by its engine.

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