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Mineral Mondays 3 : Common Minerals & Their Uses

By Destination Gold July 31, 2017

Mineral

Common Minerals & Their Uses

Minerals provide the material used to make most of the things of industrial- based society; roads, cars, computers, fertilizers, etc. Demand for minerals is increasing world wide as the population increases and the consumption demands of individual people increase. A mineral is a pure inorganic substance that occurs naturally in the earth’s crust. All of the Earth’s crust, except the rather small proportion of the crust that contains organic material, is made up of minerals. More than two-thousand minerals have been identified and most of these contain inorganic compounds formed
by various combinations of the eight elements (O, Si, Al, Fe, Ca, Na, K, and Mg) that make up 98.5% of the Earth’s crust. Industry depends on about 80 of the known minerals.
A mineral deposit is a concentration of naturally occurring solid, liquid, or gaseous material, in or on the Earth’s crust in such form and amount that its extraction and its conversion into useful materials or items are profitable now or may be so in the future. Mineral resources are non-renewable and include metals (e.g. iron, copper, and aluminum), and non-metals (e.g. salt, gypsum, clay, sand, phosphates).
Below is a selected list of commonly used metallic and nonmetallic minerals, ore minerals, mineral byproducts, aggregates, and rock types that are used to make products we use in our daily life.
Aggregates
Natural aggregates include sand, gravel, and crushed stone. Aggregates are composed of rock fragments that may be used in their natural state or after mechanical processing, such as crushing, washing, or sizing. Recycled aggregates consist mainly of crushed concrete and crushed asphalt pavement.
Rocks aggregate
Rocks aggregate
Aluminium
The most abundant metal element in Earth’s crust. Aluminum originates as an oxide called alumina. Bauxite ore is the main source of aluminum and must be imported from Jamaica, Guinea, Brazil, Guyana, etc. Used in transportation (automobiles), packaging, building/construction, electrical, machinery and other uses.
Rocks aggregate
Bauxite Ore
Antimony
A native element; antimony metal is extracted from stibnite ore and other minerals. Used as a hardening alloy for lead, especially storage batteries and cable sheaths; also used in bearing metal, type metal, solder, collapsible tubes and foil, sheet and pipes and semiconductor technology. Antimony is used as a flame retardant, in freworks, and in antimony salts are used in the rubber, chemical and textile industries, as well as medicine and glass making.
Antimony
Antimony
Barium
A heavy metal contained in barite. Used as a heavy additive in oil well drilling; in the paper and rubber industries; as a fller or extender in cloth, ink and plastics products; in radiography (“barium milkshake”); as a deoxidizer for copper; a sparkplug in alloys; and in making expensive white pigments.
Barium
Barium
Beryllium
Beryllium, an element commonly associated with igneous rocks, has industrial and nuclear defense applications and is used in light, very strong alloys for the aircraft industry. Beryllium salts are used in x-ray tubes and as a deoxidizer in bronze metallurgy. The gemstones of beryl, a beryllium mineral, are emerald and aquamarine.
Emerald Beryl
Emerald Beryl
 Aquamarine Beryl
Aquamarine Beryl
Bromine
Bromine, recovered commercially through the treatment of seawater brines, is used in leaded gasoline, fire extinguishers and retardants, well-completion fluids, and sanitary preparations. Bromine is the only liquid nonmetallic element.
Bromine
Bromine
Cadmium
Cadmium is used in plating and alloying, pigments, plastics, and batteries. Cadmium is obtained from the ore minerals Sphalerite (Zn,Cd)S and Greenockite (CdS).
Cadmium
Cadmium
Chromium
Chromium is used in the production of stainless and heat-resistant steel, full-alloy steel, super alloys and other alloys. Chromium is obtained from the ore mineral Chromite (Mg,Fe)(Cr,Al,Fe)2O4.
Chromite
Chromite
Clays
There are many different clay minerals that are used for industrial applications. Clays are used in the manufacturing of paper, refractories, rubber, ball clay, dinnerware and pottery, floor and wall tile, sanitary wear, fire clay, firebricks, foundry sands, drilling mud, iron-ore pelletizing, absorbent and filtering materials, construction materials, and cosmetics.
Clays
Clays
Copper
Used in building construction, electric and electronic products (cables and wires, switches, plumbing, heating); transportation equipment; roofng; chemical and pharmaceutical machinery; and alloys (brass, bronze and beryllium alloyed with copper are particularly vibration resistant); alloy castings; electroplated protective coatings and undercoats for nickel, chromium, zinc, etc. More recently copper is being used in medical equipment due to its anti-microbial properties. The United States has mines in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and Montana. Leading producers are Chile, Peru, China, United States and Australia.
Native Copper
Native Copper
Feldspar
Feldspar is a rock-forming mineral. It is used in glass and ceramic industries; pottery, porcelain and enamelware; soaps; bond for abrasive wheels; cement; glues; fertilizer; and tarred roofing materials and as a sizing, or filler, in textiles and paper applications.
Feldspar
Feldspar
Fluorite (fluorspar) Used in production of hydrofluoric acid, which is used in the pottery, ceramics, optical, electroplating and plastics industries; in the metallurgical treatment of bauxite; as a flux in open hearth steel furnaces and in metal smelting; in carbon electrodes; emery wheels; electric arc welders; toothpaste; and paint pigment. It is a key ingredient in the processing of aluminum and uranium.
Feldspar
Flourite Crystals
Garnet
Garnet is used in water filtration, electronic components, ceramics, glass, jewelry, and abrasives used in wood furniture and transport manufacturing. "Garnet is a common metamorphic mineral that becomes abundant enough to mine in a few rocks" (Kesler, 1994).
Garnet
Garnet
Gold
Used in jewelry and arts; dentistry and medicine; in medallions and coins; in ingots as a store of value; for scientific and electronic instruments; as an electrolyte in the electroplating industry. Leading producers are China, Australia, United States, Russia and Canada.
Gold Nugget
Gold Nugget
Iron
The Earth's crust contains about 5% iron, the fourth most abundant element in the crust. Used to manufacture steels of various types. Powdered iron: used in metallurgy products; magnets; high-frequency cores; auto parts; catalyst. Radioactive iron (iron 59): in medicine; tracer element in biochemical and metallurgical research. Iron blue: in paints, printing inks, plastics, cosmetics, paper dyeing. Black iron oxide: as pigment; in polishing compounds; metallurgy; medicine; magnetic inks. Most U.S. production is from Minnesota and Michigan. China, Australia, Brazil and Russia are the major producers.
Iron ore
Iron ore
Lead
Lead is used in batteries, construction, ammunition, television tubes, nuclear shielding, ceramics, weights, and tubes or containers. The United States is largest producer (mainly from Missouri), consumer, and recycler of lead metal.
Lead: Galena
Lead: Galena
Manganese Ore is essential to iron and steel production. Also used in the making of manganese ferro-alloys. Construction, machinery and transportation end uses account for most U.S. consumption of manganese. Manganese ore has not been produced in the U.S. since 1970. Major producers are South Africa, Australia, China, Gabon and Brazil.
Manganese ore
Manganese ore
Mica Micas commonly occur as sheets, flakes, scales or shreds. Ground mica is used in paints, as joint cement, as a dusting agent, in oil welldrilling muds; and in plastics, roofng, rubber and welding rods. Sheet mica is fabricated into parts for electronic and electronic equipment. China and Russia are leading producers.
Mica Sheets
Mica Sheets
Molybdenum Used in alloy steels to make automotive parts, construction equipment, gas transmission pipes; stainless steels; tool steels; cast irons; super alloys; and chemicals and lubricants. Major producers are China, the United States, Chile and Peru.
Molybdenum ore: Molybdenite
Nickel
Nickel is vital as an alloy to stainless steel, and it plays a key roll in the chemical and aerospace industries. Leading producers are Canada, Norway, and Russia.
Nickle Chunck
Pyrite Used in the manufacture of sulfur, sulfuric acid and sulfur dioxide; pellets of pressed pyrite dust are used to recover iron, gold, copper, cobalt, nickel; used to make inexpensive jewelry.
Pyrite crystals
Quartz
Quartz crystals are popular as a semiprecious gemstone; crystalline varieties include amethyst, citrine, rose quartz, and smoky quartz. Because of its piezoelectric properties (the ability to generate electricity under mechanical stress), quartz is used for pressure gauges, oscillators, resonators, and wave stabilizers. Quartz is also used in the manufacture of glass, paints, abrasives, refractories, and precision instruments.
Quartz Crystals
Silver
Silver is used in photography, chemistry, electrical and electronic products (because of its very high conductivity), fine silverware, electroplated wire, jewelry, coins, and brazing alloys and solders. The leading global producers include Mexico, China, Peru, Chile, Australia, Bolivia and the U.S.
Shiny Silver crystals on Calcite
Tungsten
Tungsten is used in steel production, metalworking, cutting applications, construction electrical machinery and equipment, transportation equipment, light bulbs, carbide drilling equipment, heat and radiation shielding, textile dyes, enamels, paints, and for coloring glass.
Tungston ore: Scheelite
Uranium
Uranium is a radioactive material used in nuclear defense systems and for nuclear generation of electricity. It also used in nuclear-medicine x-ray machines, atomic dating, and electronic instruments.
Uranium ore
Zinc
Zinc is used as protective coating on steel, as die casting, as an alloying metal with copper to make brass, and as chemical compounds in rubber and paint. Additional uses include galvanizing iron, electroplating, metal spraying, automotive parts, electrical fuses, anodes, dry-cell batteries, nutrition, chemicals, roof gutters, cable wrapping, and pennies. Zinc oxide is used in medicine, paints, vulcanizing rubber, and sun-block lotions. U.S. production is in three states and 13 mines. Leading producers are China, Australia, Peru and the U.S.
Zinc ore: Sphalerite
Stay tuned - Next Monday we are digging deeper!

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About the Author

This article is the third in the "Mineral Monday Series". It is written by Exploration Geologist & Geophysicist, Azeem Khel. By profession, Azeem researches and facilitates the processes of mineral extraction. Azeem is a member of Destination Gold's Facebook community, and has agreed to share his knowledge, work and, experience in the "Mineral Mondays Series".

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