Kalbar Conversations Column

Like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives!

   Friday 13th March, 2020

A few years ago I broke my index finger while out sailing on the high seas. The broken bones did not mend and I ended up having a talented surgeon implant titanium pins to help restore the use of my finger. Around the same time, my mum fell and broke her hip. She had a new titanium hip implanted which restored her mobility and quality of life.

Until I started work with Kalbar here in Bairnsdale, I had never really stopped to think about the origins of the titanium in my finger, mum’s titanium hip, or indeed the lightweight titanium fork that is a treasured item in my backpack and camping kit.

You might have had a dental implant at some stage – it’s almost certain that it’s a refined product of mineral sands, quite likely to have been mined in Australia. Australia produces about 64 percent of the world’s zircon – one of the most versatile elements of mineral sands.

I think most of us sat on the proverbial throne this morning. Did you know that mineral sands helps make your toilet bowl as white and shiny as it is? Did you brush your teeth at the bathroom basin? Have you got shiny ceramic tiles in your bathroom and around your kitchen sink? Thanks to mineral sands, your basin and tiles gleam, gloss and shine. Are you aware that mineral sands are one of the components in your toothpaste? After I brushed my teeth, I popped on some lipstick. Lipstick also contains mineral sands.

I’m a pretty typical person in society as I love, and depend on, my mobile phone. When I looked at my phone this morning and dragged my finger across the screen to read messages, select apps, and do a bank transaction, I took this for granted. Did you know that rare earths extracted from mineral sands are a key component of your phone and make it vibrate, and tiny quantities of rare earths produce the colours on your phone display. There are 16 of the 17 rare earth elements in our mobile phones.

Mineral sands, amongst other minerals, underpin our everyday life and have helped us achieve the lifestyle that we are lucky enough to enjoy.

Everything comes from somewhere - if it didn’t grow, it was mined. I leave readers with that thought.

Vesna Rendulic - Stakeholder Engagement and Communications Specialist