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
There are metals that are hard which conduct electricity and heat with characteristics of luster or shine. Such metals are called metallic minerals. For example Silver, Chromium, Tin, Nickel, Copper, Iron, Lead, Aluminum, Gold, and Zinc.
Characteristics of Metallic Minerals
- Metallic Minerals show a metallic shine in their appearance.
- The potential source of the metal that can be got through mining.
- Contains metals in their chemical composition.
- Metallic minerals contain metal in raw form.
Classification of metallic minerals:
- Ferrous metallic minerals
- Nonferrous metallic minerals
Minerals that contain iron are called ferrous mineral. Example of ferrous minerals are Chromites, Iron ore, and manganese.
Minerals that do not contain iron are called as non- ferrous minerals. Example of nonferrous minerals are lead, silver, gold, and copper.
There is a group of chemical elements which when melted do not generate a new product. Such special groups are called Nonmetallic minerals. Example: Dimension stone, halite, sand, gypsum, uranium, gravel.
Characteristics of Nonmetallic Mineral Resources
- Minerals appear with a non-metallic shine or luster
- 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.