Base Metals


DEFINITION of 'Base Metals'

Metals that oxidize, tarnish or corrode relatively easily when exposed to air or moisture. Base metals are widely used in commercial and industrial applications. They are more abundant in nature and therefore far cheaper than precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum. Base metals include aluminum, copper, lead, nickel, tin and zinc.


While the term "base metals" probably arose because these materials are inexpensive and more commonly found than "noble" metals such as gold and platinum, base metals are invaluable to the global economy because of their utility and ubiquity. Copper, a leading base metal, is often called the "metal with a Ph.D. in economics" because its widespread use makes its price very sensitive to global economic trends.

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