Vanadium is a soft metal that does not naturally occur in isolation. According to WebElements, it must be separated from other substances, such as carnotite, roscoelite, vanadinite, mottramite and patronite, as well as some crude oils. The metal has a variety of industrial applications, and is an important part of everyday life. It's most commonly used as an additive to strengthen steel alloys, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). That said, the BBC reported last year that demand for vanadium from the energy sector may increase in the coming years as the world shifts to more sustainable power generation. With that in mind, it's interesting to look at the top vanadium-producing countries. Here's a look at the ones that made the list in 2014, as per statistics from the USGS. 1. ChinaMine production: 41,000 tonnes China produces the most vanadium in the world by a large margin. Currently, its massive amount of output fuels its manufacturing sector's appetite for steel, though the Asian nation is also interested in the metal's potential in alternative energy applications. In 2013, Chinese regulators mandated the use of high-strength steel in more building applications, according to Steel Times International. That move increased China's need for vanadium and raised expectations that the country will maintain its level of production moving forward. 2. South AfricaMine production: 21,000 tonnes South Africa's vanadium production trails China's significantly, but the country remains the second-largest producer of the metal. Because China retains much of the vanadium it produces, South Africa is responsible for much of the world's supply. In fact, The Street states that the Bushveld Complex is responsible for more than 20 percent of global vanadium supply.