National Minerals Information Center

Cadmium Statistics and Information

Cadmium, a soft, malleable, ductile, bluish-white metal, was discovered in Germany in 1817, and Germany remained the only important producer for 100 years. Currently, a large percentage of global cadmium metal production takes place in Asia.

Cadmium is generally recovered as a byproduct from zinc concentrates. Zinc-to-cadmium ratios in typical zinc ores range from 200:1 to 400:1. Sphalerite (ZnS), the most economically significant zinc mineral, commonly contains minor amounts of other elements; cadmium, which shares certain similar chemical properties with zinc, will often substitute for zinc in the sphalerite crystal lattice. The cadmium mineral, greenockite (CdS), is frequently associated with weathered sphalerites and wurtzites [(Zn, Fe)S], but usually at microscopic levels. A significant amount of cadmium is also recovered from spent nickel cadmium batteries.

Cadmium is primarily consumed for the production of rechargeable nickel cadmium batteries; other end uses include pigments, coatings and plating, and as stabilizers for plastics. Solar cell manufacturing may become another significant market for cadmium in the future. Cadmium telluride thin-film photovoltaics are an alternative to the traditional silicon-based solar cells and are a preferred photovoltaic technology for commercial rooftop applications and for large-scale, ground-mounted utility systems.


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Robert M Callaghan

State Mineral Specialist
National Minerals Information Center
Phone: 703-648-7709