A commodity is a good for which there is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation across a market. It is fungible, i.e. the same no matter who produces it. Examples are petroleum, notebook paper, milk or copper. The price of copper is universal, and fluctuates daily based on global supply and demand. Stereo systems, on the other hand, have many aspects of product differentiation, such as the brand, the user interface, the perceived quality etc. And, the more valuable a stereo is perceived to be, the more it will cost.

In contrast, one of the characteristics of a commodity good is that its price is determined as a function of its market as a whole. Well-established physical commodities have actively traded spot and derivative markets. Generally, these are basic resources and agricultural products such as iron ore, crude oil, coal, ethanol, salt, sugar, coffee beans, soybeans, aluminium, copper, rice, wheat, gold, silver, palladium, and platinum. Soft commodities are goods that are grown, while hard commodities are the ones that are extracted through mining.

There is another important class of energy commodities which includes electricity, gas, coal and oil. Electricity has the particular characteristic that it is either impossible or uneconomical to store, hence, electricity must be consumed as soon as it is produced.

Oil shale

Oil shale, also known as kerogen shale, is an organic-rich fine-grained sedimentary rock containing kerogen (a solid mixture of organic chemical compounds) from which liquid hydrocarbons called shale oil (not to be confused with tight oil—crude oil occurring naturally in shales) can be produced. Shale oil is a substitute for conventional crude oil; however, extracting shale oil from oil shale is more costly than the production of conventional crude oil both financially and in terms of its environmental impact.


Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu (Latin: cuprum) and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is rather soft and malleable, and a freshly exposed surface has a pinkish or peachy color. It is used as a thermal conductor, an electrical conductor, a building material, and a constituent of various metal alloys.


Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au (from Latin: aurum, "shining dawn", hence adjective, aureate) and an atomic number of 79. It has been a highly sought-after precious metal for coinage, jewelry, and other arts since the beginning of recorded history. The metal occurs as nuggets or grains in rocks, in veins and in alluvial deposits. Gold is dense, soft, shiny and the most malleable and ductile pure metal known. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Gold is one of the coinage metals and has served as a symbol of wealth and a store of value throughout history. Gold standards have provided a basis for monetary policies. It also has been linked to a variety of symbolisms and ideologies.


Mineral oils, found in porous rocks underground, originated from organic material, such as dead plankton, accumulated on the seafloor in geologically ancient times. Through various geochemical processes this material was converted to mineral oil, or petroleum, and such. These are classified as mineral oils because they do not have an organic origin on human timescales, and are instead derived from underground geologic locations, ranging from rocks, to underground traps, to sands.

Other oily substances can also be found in the environment; the most well-known of those is asphalt, occurring naturally underground or, where there are leaks, in tar pits.

Petroleum and other mineral oils (specifically labelled as petrochemicals) have become such a crucial resource to human civilization in modern times they are often referred to by the ubiquitous term of "oil" itself.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is a gas consisting primarily of methane. It is found associated with other fossil fuels, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is created by methanogenic organisms in marshes, bogs, and landfills. It is an important fuel source, a major feedstock for fertilizers, and a potent greenhouse gas.

Before natural gas can be used as a fuel, it must undergo extensive processing to remove almost all materials other than methane. The by-products of that processing include ethane, propane, butanes, pentanes, and higher molecular weight hydrocarbons, elemental sulfur, carbon dioxide, water vapor, and sometimes helium and nitrogen.

Natural gas is often informally referred to as simply gas, especially when compared to other energy sources such as oil or coal.


Coal is a readily combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock normally occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure. Coal is composed primarily of carbon along with variable quantities of other elements, chiefly sulphur, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen.


Wheat (Triticum spp.) is a grass, originally from the Fertile Crescent region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize (784 million tons) and rice (651 million tons). Globally, wheat is the leading source of vegetable protein in human food, having a higher protein content than either maize (corn) or rice, the other major cereals. In terms of total production tonnages used for food, it is currently second to rice as the main human food crop, and ahead of maize (corn), after allowing for maize's more extensive use in animal feeds.


Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, in which 6 of the electrons are valence electrons. The uranium nucleus binds between 141 and 146 neutrons, establishing six isotopes, the most common of which are U-238 (146 neutrons) and U-235 (143 neutrons). All isotopes are unstable and uranium is weakly radioactive. Uranium has the second highest atomic weight of the naturally occurring elements, lighter only than plutonium-244. Its density is about 70% higher than that of lead, but not as dense as gold or tungsten. It occurs naturally in low concentrations (a few parts per million) in soil, rock and water, and is commercially extracted from uranium-bearing minerals such as uraninite.


Electricity (from the New Latin electricus, "amber-like"[a]) is a general term that encompasses a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge.

Liquid Fuel

Liquid fuels are those combustible or energy-generating molecules that can be harnessed to create mechanical energy, usually producing kinetic energy; they also must take the shape of their container. Most liquid fuels, in widespread use, are or derived from fossil fuels; however, there are several types, such as hydrogen fuel (for automotive uses), which are also categorized as a liquid fuel. It is the fumes of Liquid fuels that are flammable instead of the fluid.

Iron Ore

Iron ores are rocks and minerals from which metallic iron can be economically extracted. The ores are usually rich in iron oxides and vary in color from dark grey, bright yellow, deep purple, to rusty red. The iron itself is usually found in the form of magnetite (Fe3O4), hematite (Fe2O3), goethite (FeO(OH)), limonite (FeO(OH).n(H2O)) or siderite (FeCO3). Hematite is also known as "natural ore". The name refers to the early years of mining, when certain hematite ores contained 66% iron and could be fed directly into iron making blast furnaces. Iron ore is the raw material used to make pig iron, which is one of the main raw materials to make steel. 98% of the mined iron ore is used to make steel. Indeed, it has been argued that iron ore is "more integral to the global economy than any other commodity, except perhaps oil.”


Zinc, also known as spelter, is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2. Zinc is the 24th most abundant element in the Earth's crust and has five stable isotopes. The most exploited zinc ore is sphalerite, a zinc sulfide. The largest exploitable deposits are found in Australia, Canada, and the United States. Zinc production includes froth flotation of the ore, roasting, and final extraction using electricity (electrowinning).


Lead is a main-group element with symbol Pb (Latin: plumbum) and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed to air. Lead has a shiny chrome-silver luster when it is melted into a liquid.


Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten. Carbon and other elements act as a hardening agent, preventing dislocations in the iron atom crystal lattice from sliding past one another. Varying the amount of alloying elements and the form of their presence in the steel (solute elements, precipitated phase) controls qualities such as the hardness, ductility, and tensile strength of the resulting steel. Steel with increased carbon content can be made harder and stronger than iron, but is also less ductile.


Nickel is a chemical element, with the chemical symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. It is one of the four ferromagnetic elements that exist around room temperature, the other three being iron, cobalt and gadolinium.

The use of nickel has been traced as far back as 3500 BC, but it was first isolated and classified as a chemical element in 1751 by Axel Fredrik Cronstedt, who initially mistook its ore for a copper mineral. Its most important ore minerals are laterites, including limonite and garnierite, and pentlandite. Major production sites include Sudbury region in Canada, New Caledonia and Norilsk in Russia. The metal is corrosion-resistant, finding many uses in alloys, as a plating, in the manufacture of coins, magnets and common household utensils, as a catalyst for hydrogenation, and in a variety of other applications. Enzymes of certain life-forms contain nickel as an active center, which makes the metal an essential nutrient for those life forms.

Petroleum Coke

Petroleum coke (often abbreviated Pet coke or petcoke) is a carbonaceous solid derived from oil refinery coker units or other cracking processes. Other coke has traditionally been derived from coal.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas

Liquefied petroleum gas (also called LPG, GPL, LP Gas, or autogas) is a flammable mixture of hydrocarbon gases used as a fuel in heating appliances and vehicles. It is increasingly used as an aerosol propellant and a refrigerant, replacing chlorofluorocarbons in an effort to reduce damage to the ozone layer.


Indium is a chemical element with chemical symbol In and atomic number 49. This rare, very soft, malleable and easily fusible post-transition metal is chemically similar to aluminium. Indium was discovered in 1863 and named for the indigo blue line in its spectrum that was the first indication of its existence in zinc ores, as a new and unknown element. The metal was first isolated in the following year. Zinc ores continue to be the primary source of indium, where it is found in compound form. Very rarely the element can be found as grains of native (free) metal, but these are not of commercial importance.

Blast Furnace Gas

Blast furnace gas is a by-product of blast furnaces that is generated when the iron ore is reduced with coke to metallic iron. It has a very low heating value, about 93 BTU/cubic foot, because it consists of about 60 percent nitrogen, 18-20% carbon dioxide and some oxygen, which are not flammable. The rest is mostly carbon monoxide, which has a fairly low heating value already. It is commonly used as a fuel within the steel works, but it can be used in boilers and power plants equipped to burn it. It may be combined with natural gas or coke oven gas before combustion or a flame support with richer gas or oil is provided to sustain combustion. Particulate matter is removed so that it can be burned more cleanly. Blast furnace gas is sometimes flared without generating heat or electricity.


Thorium is a naturally occurring radioactive chemical element, found in abundance throughout the world. Thorium atoms (symbol Th) have an atomic number of 90, with 90 protons and 90 electrons, of which 4 are valence electrons. It was discovered in 1828 and named after Thor, the Norse god of thunder.

South Pars / North Dome Gas-Condensate field

The South Pars / North Dome field is a natural gas condensate field located in the Persian Gulf. It is the world's largest gas field, shared between Iran and Qatar. According to the International Energy Agency, the field holds an estimated 50.97 trillion cubic meters (1800 trillion cubic feet) of in-situ gas and some 50 billion barrels of condensates.


Manganese is a chemical element, designated by the symbol Mn. It has the atomic number 25. It is found as a free element in nature (often in combination with iron), and in many minerals. As a free element, manganese is a metal with important industrial metal alloy uses, particularly in stainless steels.

Titanium Dioxide

Titanium dioxide, also known as titanium(IV) oxide or titania, is the naturally occurring oxide of titanium, chemical formula TiO2. When used as a pigment, it is called titanium white, Pigment White 6, or CI 77891. It has a wide range of applications, from paint to sunscreen to food colouring.

Fuel Cells

A fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Hydrogen is the most common fuel, but hydrocarbons such as natural gas and alcohols like methanol are sometimes used. Fuel cells are different from batteries in that they require a constant source of fuel and oxygen to run, but they can produce electricity continually for as long as these inputs are supplied.


Yanacocha is a gold mine in northern Peru, considered to be the second largest gold mine in the world, producing over US$7 billion worth of gold to date. The 251-square kilometer open pit mine is situated about 30 kilometers (14 km straight line) north of Cajamarca, in high pampa, straddling the watershed. The World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) provided loans totaling US$150 million for development and has a 5% equity investment in Yanacocha, which is run by the Newmont Mining Corporation, a Denver, Colorado-based company that is the world’s second largest gold mining firm. Newmont is the major shareholder together with Buenaventura, a Peruvian company. In 2005, Yanacocha produced 3,316,933 ounces (103,200 kg) of gold (INEI).

Habshan-Fujairah oil pipeline

Habshan Fujairah oil pipeline, also known as Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline (ADCOP), is an oil pipeline in the United Arab Emirates. It starts from the Habshan onshore field in Abu Dhabi and will run to Fujairah.

Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement

The Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (Spanish: Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru, abbreviated MRTA) was a Marxist revolutionary group active in Peru from the early 1980s to 1997 and one of the main actors in the internal conflict in Peru. It was led by Victor Polay Campos (comrade "Rolando") until his incarceration and by Néstor Cerpa Cartolini (comrade "Evaristo") until his death in 1997.


Apatite is a group of phosphate minerals, usually referring to hydroxylapatite, fluorapatite, chlorapatite and bromapatite, named for high concentrations of OH−, F−, Cl− or Br− ions, respectively, in the crystal. The formula of the admixture of the four most common endmembers is written as Ca10(PO4)6(OH,F,Cl,Br)2, and the crystal unit cell formulae of the individual minerals are written as Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2, Ca10(PO4)6(F)2, Ca10(PO4)6(Cl)2 and Ca10(PO4)6(Br)2.

Wismut (mining company)

The SAG/SDAG Wismut was a uranium mining company in East Germany producing 230,400 tonnes of uranium between 1947 and 1990. In 1991, it was transformed into the Wismut GmbH owned by the state of Germany which is now responsible for the recultivation of the former mining and milling areas. The head office of the SDAG Wismut / Wismut GmbH is in Chemnitz-Siegmar.

Colony collapse disorder

Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colony abruptly disappear. While such disappearances have occurred throughout the history of apiculture, the term colony collapse disorder was first applied to a drastic rise in the number of disappearances of Western honey bee colonies in North America in late 2006. Colony collapse is significant economically because many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by bees; and ecologically, because of the major role that bees play in the reproduction of plant communities in the wild.

Resource curse

The resource curse, also known as the paradox of plenty, refers to the paradox that countries and regions with an abundance of natural resources, specifically point-source non-renewable resources like minerals and fuels, tend to have less economic growth and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources. This is hypothesized to happen for many different reasons, including a decline in the competitiveness of other economic sectors (caused by appreciation of the real exchange rate as resource revenues enter an economy, a phenomenon known as Dutch disease), volatility of revenues from the natural resource sector due to exposure to global commodity market swings, government mismanagement of resources, or weak, ineffectual, unstable or corrupt institutions (possibly due to the easily diverted actual or anticipated revenue stream from extractive activities).