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Article: Base metal

Base metal

Definition and examples of base metals

  • Base metals are distinguished by their tendency to oxidize or corrode easily and react variably with diluted hydrochloric acid (HCl) to form hydrogen.
  • Examples of base metals include iron, nickel, lead, and zinc.
  • Copper is also considered a base metal because it oxidizes relatively easily, although it does not react with HCl.

Base metals in mining and economics

  • In mining and economics, base metals refer to industrial non-ferrous metals excluding precious metals.
  • Copper, lead, nickel, and zinc are commonly classified as base metals in this context.

Base metals in plated metal products

  • In plated metal products, the base metal serves as the underlying layer beneath the plating metal.
  • For example, copper acts as the base metal underlying silver in Sheffield plate.

Related terms and concepts

  • London Metal Exchange
  • Philosopher's stone
  • Pot metal
  • Reactivity series


  • Oxford dictionary definition of base metal
  • Introduction to Numismatic Terms and Methods (source:
  • Base Metal and Iron Ore Mining (source: Pollution Prevention and Abatement Handbook, WORLD BANK GROUP 1998)
  • What Every Member of the Trade Community Should Know About: Household Articles of Base Metal (source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Jan. 2010)

Base metal Data Sources

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