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Minerals and Ores: Natural materials

23-FEB-2016 09:54

    The Earth’s is the main source of minerals and ores. Most of the elements do not found Free State because of their reactive tendencies. Potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, aluminium, zinc, iron, lead etc are the metals found in combined state. Minerals are the natural materials in which the metals and their compounds are found in earth.


    These ores contain good percentage of metal. Hence, we can say all minerals are not ores but all ores are the minerals.

    Abundances of the metals in the Earth's Crust


    Aluminium is the most abundant metallic element but iron has played a much greater role in human history and is an essential part of everybody, literally! Iron is one of 94 naturally occurring elements. It is a metallic material with a silver-grey colour and metallic lustre. Its Atomic Number is 26 and its symbol is Fe. Iron is found in all parts of the planet. It comprises about 5% of the Earth’s crust but is thought to make up perhaps as much as 80% of the planets core. There are four naturally occurring stable isotopes of iron with at least four unstable isotopes also known to exist.

    Characteristics of a mineral

    • It must occur naturally.
    • It must be inorganic
    • It must be a solid
    • It must possess an orderly internal structure, that is, its atoms must be arranged in a definite pattern.
    • It must have a definite chemical composition that may vary within specified limits."


    Ores are those minerals from which metal are extracted conveniently and profitably.

    Types of Ores

    There are mainly four types of ores such as Oxides; Carbonate Ores; Sulphide; Halides Ores.

    Types of Ores


    Name of Ores



    Bauxite (Al2O3.2H2O)


    Cuprites (Cu2O)


    Hematite (Fe2O3)


    Casseterite (SnO2)

    Carbonate Ores


    Limestone (CACO3)


    Calamine (ZnCO3)


    Siderite (FeCO3)



    Zinc blende (ZnS)


    Copper glance (Cu2S)


    Galena (PbS)


    Cinnabar (HgS)

    Halide Ores


    Rock Salt (NaCl)


    Fluorspar (CaF2)


    Horn silver (AgCl)

    Ores and Methods of Extraction of some Common Metals



    Extraction method

    1. Lithium

    Spodumeme LiAl(SiO3)2 Lipidolite

    Electrolysis of fused LiCl/ KCl

    2. Sodium

    Rock salt (NaCl)

    Electrolysis of fused NaCl / CaCl2

    3. Magnesium

    Carnallite (KCl.MgCl2.6H2O)

    Magnesium (MgCO3)

    Electrolysis of fused MgO or MgCl2 / KCl carbon reduction of MgO

    4. Calcium

    Limestone (CACO3)

    Dolomite (MgCO3.CaCO3)

    Gypsum (CaSO4)

    Electrolysis of fused CaCl2/ CaF2

    5. Copper

    Cuprites (Cu2O)

    Copper glance (Cu2S)


    Roasting of sulphide partially and reduction

    1Cu2O + Cu2S+     6Cu+SO2

    6. Aluminum

    Bauxite (Al2O3.2H2O)

    Cryolite (Na2AlF6)

    Electrolysis of Al2O3 dissolved in molten Cryolite or in Na2AlF6

    7. Zinc

    Zinc blende (ZnS)

    Zencite (ZnO)

    Calamine (ZnCO3)

    Roasting and then reduction with C


    8. Lead

    Galena (PbS)

    Roasting of sulphide ore then reduction of the oxide


    9. Iron

    Hematite (Fe2O3)

    Magnetite (Fe2O4)

    Siderite (FeCO3)

    Iron pyrite (FeS2)

    Limonite  (Fe2O3.3H2O)

    Reduction with the help of CO and Coke in blast furnace, chemical reduction with CO, Calcination followed by reduction with CO. Roasting followed by reduction with CO.

    DISCLAIMER: JPL and its affiliates shall have no liability for any views, thoughts and comments expressed on this article.

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