Uses of Minerals - Madison County Schools

Using Mineral Resources
The Uses of Minerals
Minerals are the source of gemstones, metals and a variety of materials used to make many products.
Gemstones- a hard colorful mineral that has a brilliant or glassy luster. Only called gems after being polished/cut
-Valued for color, luster, durability, rareness
-Uses: jewelry, decoration, mechanical parts, grinding and polishing
Metals- aluminum, copper, iron, silver
-Valued for flexibility (stretched into wire, flattened in to sheets, hammered or molded with out
-Uses: machinery, tools, light bulbs, aluminum foil
-Uses: food, medicine, fertilizers, building materials
- Quartz- glass and electronic equipment, gypsum- wallboard, cement & stucco
Producing Metals from Minerals
To produce metal from a mineral, a rock containing the mineral must be located through prospecting and
mined, or removed from the ground. Then the rock must be processed to extract he metal.
Ore- a rock that contains a metal or other useful mineral that can be mined and sold for profit
-WHO- geologists
-WHY- to identify rocks that contain minerals
-how: observing rocks at surface, studying maps of rocks below surface, set off explosions to create seismic
Mining- removing ore from the ground. 3 Types: strip mining, open pit mining, and shaft mining
-Who- Miners
-Why- to collect ore from the ground for sale
-How-strip mining: earth moved away to expose ore, open pit mines- dig huge holes and remove ore deposits ,
shaft mines- ore deposits deep in ground- dig a network of tunnels to extend into the ground to remove ore
Smelting- the process of mixing ores with other substances and melting them to separate the useful metal from
the other elements the ore contains
Diagram & 5steps:
1) iron ore is crushed and mixed with limestone and coke (baked coal)
2) mixture is placed in a furnace and hot air is blown through making the coke burn easily
3) coke burns and chemical change happens- mixture produces carbon dioxide gas and molten iron
4) Molten iron sinks to the bottom of the furnace. Impurities left in the ore combine with limestone create slag
5) slag and molten iron are poured off through taps
Further Processing
-why- to create harder and stonger metals
- how- add carbon to iron (some times add manganese for even more strength; chrominum and nickel
to make it rust resistant)
-alloy- a solid mixture of two or more elements- one must be a metal