A mineral is mostly a compound that is usually crystalline in nature and is a result of geological progressions. Its ancient use comes from the Linnaean taxonomy where everything can be assigned to vegetable, animal and mineral kingdoms. The study of minerals is called mineralogy. There are about 4500 known minerals and each possesses an exclusive set of physical and chemical properties. Minerals are distributed in earth’s crust in small amount however whenever these are found in bulk amount these form minerals deposits which are economically very useful.
To be categorised as mineral, a substance must qualify the following parameters:
- Inorganic: means it is not prepared by an organism.
- Naturally occurring: means people did not make it.
- Sequenced internal structure: means its atoms are in an orderly and repeating prototype.
- Solid: means it is not a gas or a liquid at STP.
- Specific chemical composition: means chemical composition of specific mineral ranges within precise limit.
Types of minerals
Based on usages there are five types of minerals:
- Native metals: are present in independent form. E.g. Gold
- Metallic minerals: are found in association with other minerals. E.g. oxygen and sulphur
- Industrial minerals: are non-metallic minerals.
- Construction minerals: are used to manufacture construction materials
- Precious Stones: are used for jwellery. E.g. diamond, emerald etc.
All of us use products made up of minerals every day. Minerals are used in industries, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, technology and cosmetics. A number of minerals are used to produce a wooden pencil or a cell phone. Minerals are used to make roads, vehicles, houses etc. The salt that we eat is the mineral halite. Few uses of minerals are:
- Minerals are the inorganic materials used by us need to grow, metabolise, repair tissue and carry out other body processes. Mineral nutrients include; calcium, iron, sulfur, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and many others.
- Minerals are used in construction Industries such as making foundations, concrete, road base, tile, cement, bricks etc. Iron is used to make rods, steel beams, wire and nails.
- In agriculture industry minerals such as phosphate rock and potash are used to make compost. Lime is a acid-neutralizer used for soil treatment. Mineral nutrients are added to animal feed.
- The chemical industry uses large amounts of salt, lime and soda ash. Large amounts of metals, clay and mineral fillers/extenders are used in manufacturing.