Mineral Review

How do humans use minerals and rocks?

Minerals, and therefore mineralogy, are of extremely great interest to industry, many fields of science, and have important aesthetic significance. As for the economy, no matter what aspect we take, right down to the problems of the modern standard of living, any of them turns out to be somehow related to the use of minerals. But, in order.

Mineralogy and industry.

One of the most important incentives for the development of mineralogy has been and will continue to be interest in the search and exploration of natural resources. Among industrially valuable minerals, it is customary to distinguish two groups:
1. Ore minerals. This group includes minerals from which metallic elements necessary for industry are extracted. Such minerals include native elements, sulfides and some oxides, less often minerals of other classes with a relatively high content of metals – copper, silver, iron and aluminum. In the photo on the right – bauxite is the main ore for aluminum, which occurs during the weathering of rocks or by sedimentation and consists of aluminum hydroxides (gibbsite, boehmite, diaspora) with an admixture of iron hydroxides, clay materials and quartz. As an example of obtaining valuable raw materials from minerals, I will give a step-by-step reaction for producing aluminum from nepheline:
1st stage. Nepheline and limestone are sintered in tube furnaces at 1200 degrees Celsius. (Na,K)Al2Si2O8+2CaCO3=2CaSiO3+NaAlO2+KAlO2+2CO2
2. stage. The resulting mass is leached with water – a solution of sodium and potassium aluminate and CaSiO slurry are formed.3 NaAlO2+KAlO2+ 4H2O=Na[Al(OH)4]+K[Al(OH)4]
3. stage. Carbon dioxide Na[Al(OH) formed during sintering is passed through the aluminate solution4]+K[Al(OH)4]+2CO2=NaHCO3+KHCO3+Al(OH)3
4. stage. Alumina Al(OH) is obtained by heating aluminum hydroxide3 = Al2O3+ 3H2O
5. stage. By evaporating the mother liquor, soda and potash are separated, and the resulting sludge is used for cement production. At the same time, when processing 1 ton of alumina, 1 ton of soda products and 7.5 tons of cement are obtained.
2. Nonmetallic minerals. Minerals used in the production of non-metallic materials used for the manufacture of products such as electrical and thermal insulators (mica), refractories (kyanite), ceramic products (fluort), glass (quartz), abrasives, cement, mineral fertilizers (Chilean saltpeter), as well as fluxes for metallurgical processes. Industrial mineralogy covers both the first and second of these categories, as well as all those minerals that invariably accompany industrial deposits. For example, bright green deposits of malachite and its “conductors” in cracks lead to deposits of oxidized copper ores. Bright pinkish-red secretions of erythrin (cobalt flower) allow you to find cobalt deposits (pictured on the left). Delicate snowflakes and hemimorphite needles in the voids of brown iron ore give reason to look for zinc minerals in the primary deposits. Findings of fragments composed of a medium-grained aggregate of good green or brown crystals of garnet and calcite interspersed with chalcopyrite serves as a prospecting sign for skarn-type deposits. The shape of crystals, their color and properties, features of the chemical composition are also used to develop mineralogical criteria for searching for deposits. The mineral composition of “black sands” in the coastal strip, in the depressions of rivers and streams provides valuable information about the sources of material removal – this technique is used when searching for placer deposits of gold, diamonds, tin, titanium and other heavy ores. Exploratory mineralogy deals with these search criteria.
Minerals that have to be extracted along with minerals, but which do not in themselves have any industrial interest, are collectively called waste rocks.
True, the interpretation of the term “ore” is very contradictory. Some experts put a purely economic meaning into it. A mineral is not called an ore unless it is mined from a profitable deposit. Others ignore the economic side. However, most experts use the term ore mineral as a classification concept. Thus, the same ore mineral may be considered an ore in one deposit and not an ore in another. This may be subject to changing technology and the vagaries of the market.
Over time, as human needs and demands grow, ore and industrially valuable minerals will become increasingly important for industry, trade, and even be sources of international conflicts. Political aspects become especially acute under the influence of two factors:
• Almost all mineral resources are not renewable or are restored more slowly than they are mined
• These resources are distributed in the earth’s crust in a random, uneven manner.
Over the course of his entire life, the average person consumes approximately 25 CARRIERS OF MINERAL RAW MATERIALS.
This inevitably implies the need for constant interest in the study of minerals in general and the use of industrial minerals in particular.

Aesthetic value of minerals.

The aesthetic value of minerals is widely known. Precious stones in jewelry, national treasuries and other displays attract the attention of millions of people every year. National and regional museums displaying minerals, as well as private collections, are visited by countless visitors every year. In addition, minerals as building materials or their components are used for interior decoration and for exterior cladding of many architectural masterpieces. For example, the Moscow metro.
The main role of museums is that they serve as collectors and custodians of mineralogical specimens for future generations. Indeed, along with well-known and widespread minerals, there are also those that are found only in a separate place or even in single copies. If possible, such unique specimens should be kept in museums. There are cases when samples that were not included in one of the large museum collections became unsuitable for study, and this is sometimes so important for resolving issues of nomenclature and priority in the discovery of new minerals. This is why most professional mineralogists voluntarily donate their original materials to museums.

Scientific significance of mineralogy.

The scientific significance of mineralogy is one of the most important. Each mineral individual reflects a certain physical and chemical environment and, accordingly, the geological processes that took place in a given area of ​​the Earth during the formation of this mineral. For example, feldspar sanidine crystallizes at high temperatures accompanying volcanic processes, or that one of the polymorphic modifications of silica – coesite – is formed under conditions of high pressure, which arise, in particular, during the fall of meteorites; many clay minerals are formed as a result of surface and near-surface weathering processes.

Once again about the use of minerals.

Minerals find applications in all areas of human activity. In one form or another, a person encounters them at home and at work, in the countryside and in another state, in complex scientific and technical structures and everyday household items, while eating and during a tour of a nuclear power plant, while watching fireworks, while eating and playing computer and so on. Below is a table that I hope can give some insight into the uses of specific minerals for specific purposes (excluding ore minerals).
This is not a complete list of minerals used by humans. This table does not include, for example, minerals used in high-tech areas by human activity. This was done on purpose, since I am sure that many more minerals will find their use in the future, and writing about only some of them seems blasphemy to me. This lesson develops students’ understanding of rocks and minerals. The division of rocks into groups according to their origin is also clearly shown, and examples of their formation and application are given.

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Lesson summary “Rocks and minerals”

The earth has several shells: atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and lithosphere. Lithosphere called the rocky shell of the Earth. The entire earth’s crust is made of stones. This is a solid rock. What is rock and what does it consist of? We are surrounded by a huge amount of minerals and rocks that people use in their lives. For example, you can see that often the walls and floors in the subway are lined with rocks such as granite и marble. Many of you use salt for cooking. Salt – This is also a rock. Rocks differ in their composition, properties and origin. Each rock consists of certain minerals. Minerals – these are natural compounds with a certain composition and properties. They may vary hardness, color, shine. The diversity of minerals depends not only on the minerals they contain, but also on the origin of the rocks. Depending on this, three groups are distinguished rocks: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. Igneous rocks are formed from magma – the substance of the mantle. When hot magma pours onto the surface of the Earth, it cools and hardens very quickly. Then poured out (effusive) igneous rocks. These include basalt, pumice, andesite, diabase. If magma does not pour out onto the surface of the Earth, then it slowly cools in the earth’s crust. Then from such magma are formed deep (intrusive) igneous rocks. These include gabbro, diorite and granite. This group of rocks is of great value, since igneous rocks are widely used by humans as building material. Based on their location, scientists can guess the location of certain minerals. Another group of rocks by origin is sedimentary rocks. From the name of this group you can guess that they are formed by precipitation. Small particles are gradually deposited on the bottom of oceans, seas, and reservoirs – fragments of various rocks. This process can occur in several ways, which is why sedimentary rocks are distinguished clastic, chemical and organic. Clastic rocks are formed from rock fragments under the influence of wind, flowing water, temperature changes. These rocks include crushed stone, sand, clay, gravel, pebbles. Sedimentary chemicals rocks are formed by the precipitation of various substances dissolved in water chemical substances. These rocks include gypsum и rock saltconsumed by humans as food. Organic Sedimentary rocks are formed due to the participation of living organisms – plants and animals, or rather, their remains. These rocks include limestone, coal, peat, oil. Sedimentary rocks have found wide application in human life. Some of them are used as building material, others – like fuel, and still others are used by humans to prepare new materials. It is sedimentary rocks that help study the ancient history of the Earth. After all, by their location, scientists can trace in what territory and when there was a sea, what animals and plants lived there. The third group of rocks by origin is metamorphic rocks. The name of these rocks comes from the word “metamorphosis”, which means transformation. This is no accident. Metamorphic rocks are formed from two previous types of rocks: igneous and sedimentary by their change under the influence of pressure or temperature. With this impact, the properties of these rocks change and another, new rock is formed. So, from such igneous rock as granite formed gneiss, and from sedimentary rock – limestone a well-known marble. Man mainly uses metamorphic rocks as building material, and the study of this group of rocks allows scientists to judge how natural conditions changed on Earth and what processes took place on our planet. Let’s sum up. Rock – a natural collection of minerals that make up the earth’s surface. All rocks can be divided into three groups: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. Igneous Rocks are formed from magma. These include basalt, pumice, andesite, granite. They are used as building and facing materials. Sedimentary rocks were formed by the deposition of rock particles. They are clastic (crushed stone, pebbles), chemical (gypsum, rock salt) и organic (coal, peat, oil). They are used as a building material, as fuel and for the production of new materials. Metamorphic rocks were formed by the alteration of igneous and sedimentary rocks under the influence of temperature and pressure. These include gneiss, marble, quartzite. Metamorphic rocks are used as building materials.

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