The minerals They are inorganic substances of defined chemical composition, which are found in different rock formations arising from the processes of disintegration of the earth’s crust. For instance: chalcopyrite, azurite, malachite, magnetite.
Although some minerals are made up of a single element (native minerals), most of them have been formed from chemical reactions that took place in the first layers of the Earth’s crust a long time ago and include various chemical elements.
The main minerals correspond to the chemical families of sulfides, sulfates and sulfosalts; are also various common minerals oxides, carbonates, nitrates, borates, phosphates and silicates.
The number of possible combinations of chemical elements It is truly amazing and explains, in part, the enormous range of shapes, colors, sizes and textures that minerals present. Atmospheric and geological phenomena also influenced these formation processes.
The mineral deposits They are the natural reservoirs of these elements that modern society has to meet the growing requirements of the industry.
To access the minerals, it is necessary to mining, that is, vertical wells that in turn branch out into horizontal galleries.
These are spreading following the ore reefs you want to exploit, but you can also do open pit mining, if the minerals are more on the surface.
Mining is an activity of high occupational risk due to the probability of accidents and also very unhealthy, due to the aspiration of irritating elements for the respiratory tract.
Examples of minerals
Twenty minerals are listed below, as an example:
- Chalcopyrite. Yellowish in color, most of the time it is found in massive form. Almost two thirds of its weight corresponds to iron and copper, so chalcopyrite is used essentially for industrial applications. In certain cases you can have gold and silver, so the interest in it increases.
- Azurite It is a soft mineral with a blue color, associated with malachite, it usually covers various minerals existing in the upper part of deposits. It is used as an ornamental stone and also as a colorant.
- Malachite. It is extracted from a soft stone whose main deposits today are in Zaire. It is commonly used in jewelry, although therapeutic properties are also attributed to it.
- Magnetite. Found in different types of igneous or metamorphic rocks, it is an iron mineral. It is brittle and hard, and very stable at high temperatures, which makes it a good protector for boiler tubes. Industrial use extends to the construction industry, where it is used for concrete.
- Native gold. Precious metal used mainly in jewelry and goldsmiths, also used in electronics, dentistry and plastic arts. Its high price is linked to the scarcity and difficulties in obtaining it, this limits its use.
- Aragonite. With a multiplicity of colors, it is found in hydrothermal veins, generally in low temperature conditions. Some varieties are used as ornamental stones.
- Siderite. It forms in swampy environments rich in organic matter, it has a color between yellowish brown and greenish gray. Its fundamental importance is in the extraction of iron, which is why it appears as a key mineral in the steel industry.
- Bauxite. Rock composed mainly of alumina. Generally friable and light, soft and clay-like. It is used as a raw material to obtain aluminum, which makes it indispensable, since aluminum is essential for various industries.
- Cerussite. It comes in colors between white, grayish or black, although it can also be colorless. Associated with primary minerals such as galena and sphalerite, it represents an important source for obtaining lead.
- Pyrite. Mineral similar to gold, used to obtain sulfuric acid. Their similarity to gold has been a source of deception, although to trained eyes they are two distinguishable minerals.
- Rhodochrosite. Mineral composed essentially of magnesium carbonate, red to pink, slightly transparent. It is present in Argentina, the United States and Russia, and its use ranges from jewelry to the making of statuettes.
- Quartz. Colorless in its pure state, but capable of adopting different colors when combined. It has piezoelectric properties (it responds to mechanical actions by generating electricity), which is used in device start-ups. It is the most abundant mineral in the earth’s crust, and the Brazilian deposits are the most exploited worldwide.
- Feldspars. Hard and abundant minerals, withstand high temperatures (greater than 900 ° C). They have served for the development of welding fuels, and in the glass and ceramics industry.
- Black Mica. Conforming 3.8% of the earth’s crust, it has characteristics such as resistance to heat and water, which makes it a fundamental mineral for the industry. Electric motors are made of mica, which only melts at temperatures above 1200 ° C.
- Olivino. Usually green in color, although on certain occasions it is colorless. It is semi-hard and is found in metamorphosed dolomitic limestone. The rocks that contain it are used for the manufacture of refractory material, and its transparent varieties are sought after as gems of value.
- Calcite Main constituent of marbles and other such formations. It is used to extract siliceous impurities and is used in the optical industry. It can have different colors.
- Cast. It is extracted from open-pit or underground quarries, in general, through jobs that demand a lot of energy. This mineral has many uses, but without a doubt the main one is to integrate the mixture used in the construction industry.
- Sulfur. Yellowish non-metallic element. It has a great combustion capacity and is soluble in water in all its forms. It is part of many human activities.
- Borax. White crystal that dissolves easily in water. Found in detergents and pesticides, in jewelry for soldering gold and silver, and in the glass and wood industry.
- Saltpeter. Large areas of South America are covered by salt flats that contain different salts, including sodium chloride, with which table salt is made.
Other minerals present in nature
Types of minerals
Minerals can have an ordered microscopic structure, following a fixed pattern, or disorganized, without a precise shape or arrangement.
The former are called crystalline minerals, These form geometric volumes such as cubes, prisms, pyramids and others. Several of the so-called precious stones, used in jewelry, are located there. The seconds are the amorphous minerals.
Also, there are metallic and non-metallic minerals. From the former, important metals for industry can be obtained, such as iron, copper or lead; the latter are also called minerals petrogenetics, because they are associated with other minerals forming rocks, and they also have important applications, especially for the production of construction materials, such as lime or cement.
Properties of minerals
The properties of the minerals are important for their use. These are usually grouped into three types: geometric, physical and chemical.
Those that most condition their use are the physical and chemical properties, which include mechanical attributes such as hardness or toughness; optical like refringence and electromagnetic like conductivity and magnetic attraction. Symmetry or shine may also be of interest.