What are Mineral Resources?
A mineral is a naturally occurring substance, representable by a chemical formula, that is usually solid and inorganic, and has a crystal structure.
A mineral is a pure inorganic substance that occurs naturally in the earth’s crust. More than two-thousand minerals have been identified and most of these are inorganic, which are formed by the various combination of elements. However, a small proportion of the earth’s crust contains organic materials, consist of single elements such as gold, silver, diamond, and sulfur.
Categories of Mineral Resources
Mineral resources can be divided into two major categories.
- Metallic Mineral Resources
- Non-metallic Mineral Resources
Metallic Minerals are metals that are hard substance and conduct heat and electricity with characteristics of luster or shine. For example Gold, Silver, Tin, Copper, Lead, Zinc, Iron, Nickel, Chromium, and Aluminum.
Characteristics of Metallic Minerals
- Metallic Minerals present a metallic shine in their appearance.
- Contains metals in their chemical composition.
- Potential source of the metal that can be got through mining.
- Metallic minerals contain metal in raw form.
Metallic minerals are further classified into Ferrous and Non-ferrous metallic minerals.
Ferrous Minerals are those minerals that contain iron, for example, Iron ore, manganese, and Chromites.
Non-Ferrous Minerals are those minerals which do not contain iron, for example, gold, silver, copper, and lead.
Nonmetallic minerals are a special group of chemical elements from which no new product can be generated if they are melted. For example sand, gravel, gypsum, halite, Uranium, dimension stone.
Characteristics of Nonmetallic Mineral Resources
- Nonmetallic minerals are minerals which are either present a non-metallic shine or luster in their appearance.
- These minerals do not contain extractable metals in their chemical composition.
Use of Minerals
The use of minerals depends upon its deposits. Some countries are rich in mineral deposits, while others have no deposits. The greatest use of minerals depends on its properties. For instance, Aluminum is light, strong and durable in nature, so it is used for aircraft, shipping, and car industries.
Minerals are used in almost all industries. Gold, silver, and platinum are used in the jewelry industry. Copper is used in coin industry and for making pipes and wire. Silicon obtained from quartz is used in the computer industry.
Conservation of Mineral Resources
The total volume of consumable minerals resources is just 1% of all the minerals present in the earth’s crust. However, the consumption rate is so high that these mineral resources which are nonrenewable will get exhausted very soon. Here are some of the measures to conserve minerals:
- Use of minerals in a planned and sustainable manner.
- Recycling of metals
- Use of alternative renewable substitutes.
- Technology should be improved to use the low-grade ores profitably.
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