This page reproduces content from Base Metals in Catalysis: From Zero to Hero, in Green and Sustainable Medicinal Chemistry: Methods, Tools and Strategies for the 21st Century Pharmaceutical Industry, , Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, UK, 2016, ch. 16, pp. 192-202..,
It is copyright to the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and is reproduced here with their express permission. If you wish to reproduce it elsewhere you must obtain similar permission from the RSC.
Catalysis is one of the overarching principles of green chemistry that offers significant energy, environmental and economic savings. At present, 85% of chemical products worldwide, both bulk and fine chemicals are made via methods that use a metal catalyst; most of these processes use precious metals to perform the chemical transformation. However, the limited abundance of these metals poses a substantial threat to these industries, even those metals that are forecast to last for another 100 years (Figure 1) have various associated issues, such as the uncertain stability of their price based on the current rates of extraction. Furthermore, geopolitical uncertainty in areas that currently mine these metals, as well as potential market manipulation to limit the amount exported, can cause global shortages on the international markets.
Figure 1: Periodic table displaying critical elements (Reproduced from A.Hunt  with permission from the Royal Society of Chemistry)