National Minerals Information Center

Zirconium and Hafnium Statistics and Information

The principal economic source of zirconium is the zirconium silicate mineral, zircon (ZrSiO4).  Zircon is the primary source of all hafnium.  Zirconium and hafnium are contained in zircon at a ratio of about 50 to 1.  Zircon is a coproduct or byproduct of the mining and processing of heavy-mineral sands for the titanium minerals, ilmenite and rutile, or tin minerals.  The major end uses of zircon are refractories, foundry sands (including investment casting), and ceramic opacification.  Zircon is also marketed as a natural gemstone, and its oxide is processed to produce the diamond simulant, cubic zirconia.  Zirconium is used in nuclear fuel cladding, chemical piping in corrosive environments, heat exchangers, and various specialty alloys.  The major end uses of hafnium are in nuclear control rods, nickel-based superalloys, nozzles for plasma arc metal cutting, and high-temperature ceramics.

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George Bedinger

USGS Mineral Commodity Specialist
Commodity Statistics and Information
Phone: 703-648-6183