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Chemical symbol Cd. Cadium is produced primarily as a by product of zinc refining, but also is recovered during the benefication and refining of some lead ores and complex copper zinc ores. Cadmium is bluish white soft metal that can be cut with a knife. The principal use of cadmium, which was discovered in Germany in 1817, has been in nickel cadmium batteries for personal, portable communications, electronic and electrical equipment. Other applications include pigments, coatings and plating, stabilizers for plastics and similar synthetics, alloys, lasers and solar cells.