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Manganese is the fourth most traded metal in the world, primarily because it is indispensable in steel production. Strong steel markets driven by developing economies -- namely China -- have resulted in a manganese industry that produces 14 million tonnes annually.

That said, a number of exciting uses for manganese are emerging in the battery sector that have the potential to drastically change the mix of uses for this metal. We've made an infographic that visualizes all the information investors should be aware of -- click on the image below to view the graphic in full size.

As you can see, electric vehicle batteries clearly play a large role in manganese's future.

Unfortunately, investing in manganese is not as easy as with other commodities, as very few mining companies actually produce manganese, and even less produce it exclusively. That said, we do have some recommendations on where to start your research.

There are countries abroad looking to begin producing their manganese resources. Guyana has recently issued prospecting licenses to Reunion Gold Corp (OTC:RGDFF), and other smaller African countries like South Africa and Gabon have large resources. We suggest beginning your research with junior mining companies operating in these areas.

American Manganese (OTCPK:AMYZF) is a junior exploration company that is set to begin producing manganese in 2014, which would make it the only U.S.-based manganese producer. The company is also aiming to produce the specific types of manganese used in lithium dioxide batteries highlighted in the infographic above, adding further value.

Additionally, the top three producers of manganese are BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP), Anglo American (OTCPK:AAUKF), and Vale (NYSE:VALE), and investing in these mining giants is always a safe, if unexciting, move.

Thanks for reading, and we hope that we've helped kick start your research on the emerging opportunities in the manganese sector. Good luck!

Source: Manganese: Powering The Next Generation Of Lithium Ion Batteries

Additional disclosure: Visual Capitalist content is researched independently with the goal of educating investors on resource investing and management. Visual Capitalist does not receive direct compensation to produce this content, though it does provide other services and sponsorship opportunities from time-to-time to help cover costs.