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Mineral Resources

Last updated date: 21st Feb 2024
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What are Mineral Resources ?

Minerals are substances or materials found in the Earth's crust or in the atmosphere or in our surroundings having some definite chemical and physical properties. These substances become resources when there is some economic value added to it. Hence mineral resources are substances found in the earth’s crust and have some economic value.   

There are some minerals which are less reactive and hence can be found as a molecule of that particular element, for example, Gold, Platinum etc. while others are found by the various compositions of different elements. Identification of greater than two thousand minerals have been done, most of which are inorganic compounds formed by some combination of the eight basic minerals which are Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), Aluminium (Al), Oxygen (O), Iron (Fe), Silicon (Si), Calcium (Ca), and Magnesium(Mg). One important fact to note here is that around 98.5% of Earth’s crust is made up of these 8 minerals.

Existence of Mineral Resources

Mineral resources generally found in the environment need to be extracted and its cost of extraction in accordance with its economic value that determines whether a particular substance will be regarded as a resource or not. For example there are many rocks in which iron is found but we call a rock to be an iron ore when the extraction of iron from the rock is feasible. 

Characteristics of Mineral Resources

  • Quantity and quality of mineral resources are inversely related i.e. if we get good quality of a mineral then it is likely that we will not get enough quantity of the resource. 

  • Mineral resources are exhaustible by nature. They take a long time to develop but take less time to be used so as a result there is net depletion of these resources. And hence they need to be used in a sustainable way so that they get enough time to develop and hence remain conserved.

  • Mineral resources are crucial in the development of a country. Large scale industries or the manufacturing sector are more often than not dependent on mineral resources.

Categories of Mineral Resources

When we talk about mineral resources we generally classify mineral resources in two categories:- 

  1. Metallic resources and

  2. Non-metallic resources

Metallic Resources

Metallic resources consist of substances like gold, silver, tin, lead copper etc. Finding and extracting some of these resources requires knowledge and application of different sciences while few others can be extracted relatively easily or needless processing. 

Classification of metallic resources 

  1. Ferrous minerals 

  2. Non-ferrous minerals 

  • Ferrous Minerals 

This component of metallic minerals contains iron as a dominant part of the ore. 75% of the total production of ferrous minerals constitute this component. Examples include iron ore, nickel, chromium etc.

  • Non–Ferrous Minerals

As the name suggests, this component of metallic resources does not have iron as a dominating mineral. These constitute the remaining 25% of the metallic minerals. Generally, these resources are relatively better resistant to corrosion.

Characteristics of Metallic Minerals

  • Metals in metallic minerals are generally hard and are good conductors of heat and electricity.

  • Metallic minerals are the source of metals. 

  • Metallic minerals contain compounds of metals generally in the form of their sulphides and oxides. 

  • These minerals on extraction give pure metal. 

Non-metallic Minerals 

Non-metallic resources consist of carbon mainly. Coal, petroleum,  natural gas etc. all come under this category and these resources comprise around 87% of all-natural resources production. The rest is shared among metallic resources and non-metallic resources with each gaining around 6 – 7 %.  Non–metallic minerals can be further classified into 2 categories: 

  1. Organic Minerals 

  2. Inorganic Minerals 

  • Organic Minerals

The minerals which have carbon-hydrogen as a part of the compound are termed as organic minerals. Petroleum, coal, natural gas all come under this category. 50% of the world’s coal is mined by China and 10%  is mined by India.

  • Inorganic Minerals

Inorganic resources are those resources which are resources of non-metals but do not have a carbon-hydrogen bond. Mica, graphite, limestone minerals come under this category. 

However the difference between organic and inorganic minerals is not clearly defined and is seen to overlap at certain places.

Characteristics of Non-metallic Resources

  • Non–metallic minerals are generally not called ores, instead are called industrial minerals due to their widespread usage in industries to create other substances.

  • These resources are lacklustre and can break easily.

  • Non-metallic resources generally are not good conductors of heat or electricity.

  • These minerals cannot be recycled in a short time duration. 

Uses of Minerals

  • Minerals are used in our body in our growth which in turn will help us to stay healthy. Though we need minerals in small quantities but still without them our body growth will be significantly hindered. For example, we need calcium to strengthen our bones and teeth, Zinc helps us to improve our immune system which helps us to remain healthy. Deficiency of iron leads to anaemia.

  • Minerals also play an important role in agriculture-based industries as fertilizers and chemicals required in the sector are prepared from different minerals.

  • There are many industrial uses of different mineral resources in different ways. For example iron is extensively used in the construction of buildings, developing weapons for defence, Graphite is used in pencils, Potassium is an important part in fertilizer NPK.

  • Apart from these minerals are also used in making jewellery. Metals like Gold, Silver, Platinum etc. being valued highly are regarded as valuable metals and hence are sometimes used as a source of hedging funds. These kinds of minerals have the potential for commercial trading.

Conservation of Mineral Resources

  • When we consume a mineral resource it’s an irreversible change and hence once consumed, it becomes another chemical compound which is completely different from its parent species.

  • Production of mineral resources like coal, petroleum etc. take years and years for production and once consumed, it's finished forever. 

Above explanation clearly shows that consumption of minerals and production of them is not a cycle but a one-way process towards depletion. Now once we have understood, why do we need to conserve resources? The question is: How do we conserve resources?

Conservation of Resources can be taken Forward in the Following Ways: 

  • Reduction in the consumption of resources like petroleum, coal etc which are used in large quantities in various industries and try to find alternatives. For example, coal is widely used in producing electricity but we know that coal plants have very bad efficiency so shift to hydropower, solar power as an alternative is the best choice. This will not only help us to conserve coal but also to conserve our environment. Similarly, instead of petroleum we should try and shift to e- vehicles.

  • Minimize the residue or the wastage produced when extracting the metal/s is a step forward towards conservation of the resources.

  • 3 R’s ( Recycle, Reduce and Reuse ) will help significantly in conserving these resources. A good example can be recycling of scrap metals. 

  • Consumption of metals in better planned and sustained ways is another step towards conservation of resources. Use of public transport whenever possible to save fuel is an example in which better planning will help towards conservation. 

Difference between Metallic and Non-metallic Minerals

There is a major difference between metallic and non-metallic minerals. One of these key differences is that metallic minerals are procured from ores whereas non-metallic minerals are obtained from industrial rocks and minerals. Let’s have a look at some other differences between these two minerals. 

  • Metallic minerals are the ones that have metal elements in their raw form. On the other hand, non-metallic minerals do not have any type of metal in them. 

  • By melting a metallic mineral, you can obtain a new product. However, non-metallic minerals do not produce any such product when melted. 

  • Usually, metallic minerals are obtained from igneous and metamorphic rocks while non-metallic rocks are embedded in sedimentary rocks and young fold mountains. 

  • Metallic minerals are known to be good conductors of heat and electricity. On the contrary, non-metallic minerals are good insulators of heat and electricity. 

  • Metallic minerals have high ductility and malleability whereas non-metallic minerals lack both malleability and ductility and tend to break quite easily. 

  • Metallic minerals usually have a lustre and shine in them. But non-metallic minerals have no such shine or lustre.  

  • Copper, tin, iron, and bauxite are some examples of metallic minerals. Salt, mica coal, and clay are common examples of non-metallic minerals.  

FAQs on Mineral Resources

1. Can I learn about Mineral Resources - Types of Ores?

Yes, you can learn about Mineral Resources - Types of Ores for free through Vedantu’s website. Vedantu provides you with a reliable source to study Mineral Resources - Types of Ores | Uses of Mineral Resources and enhance your knowledge of chemistry. You can use our resources to learn various concepts of different subjects, including maths, commerce, chemistry, and physics. To have a more user-friendly experience, you can use our mobile app which is compatible with both android and iOS smartphones. You can use our app to download pdfs of sample papers, revision notes, NCERT solutions, and much more without paying any registration fee.

2. Why are mineral resources important?

Mineral resources are essential resources for our society. These resources are used in almost every industry for production. We need minerals to make vehicles, electric appliances, roads, houses, computers, jewellery, and almost everything that we use in our daily lives. That is why it is also necessary to conserve mineral resources. The mineral consumption rate is continuously rising, which will exhaust the non-renewable minerals soon. So, we should take extra measures to conserve mineral resources. For starters, people should start recycling metals obtained from these minerals. We should use these mineral resources in an efficient and sustainable manner. Moreover, an upgradation in technology can help in using low-grade ores profitably.

3. Explain important characteristics of metallic and non-metallic minerals

There are a few characteristics of minerals that can help you identify whether it is a non-metallic mineral or a metallic one. These characteristics are mentioned below: 

Metallic Minerals

  • All metallic minerals have a metallic shine or luster in their appearance. 

  • You can obtain new metal by melting a metallic mineral. 

  • These minerals contain metal in pure raw form. 

  • Metallic minerals are good conductors of heat and electricity. 

  • These minerals are usually found in igneous and metamorphic rocks. 

Non-metallic Minerals

  • Non-metallic minerals do not have any shine or luster in their appearance. 

  • Unlike metallic minerals, these minerals do not contain any metal 

  • These minerals are usually obtained from sedimentary rocks and young fold mountains.

4. Is it necessary to learn about Mineral Resources - Types of Ores | Uses of Mineral Resources?

Yes, it is necessary to learn about Mineral Resources - Types of Ores | Uses of Mineral Resources. By learning about these resources, you can understand why they are important for human beings. Mineral Resources - Types of Ores | Uses of Mineral Resources will tell you how minerals are obtained from different resources. You can also understand the difference between metallic and non-metallic minerals found in the earth’s crust. Moreover, once you understand everything about Mineral Resources - Types of Ores | Uses of Mineral Resources, you will also be able to contribute to the conservation of these resources. That is why it is important for all students to learn about Mineral Resources - Types of Ores | Uses of Mineral Resources.

5. How can I learn the concept of Mineral Resources - Types of Ores | Uses of Mineral Resources?

Learning about Mineral Resources - Types of Ores | Uses of Mineral Resources will be quite easy, especially when you are using Vedantu’s learning platform. You can start learning this topic from your textbook and get an idea of what mineral resources are and why they are important. To revise the topic, you should refer to revision notes and reference guides that will give you a deep insight into Mineral Resources - Types of Ores | Uses of Mineral Resources. Once you have completed the concept, you should try answering the exercise questions given in your textbook to test your knowledge and see where you stand.