Definition of Minerals
Before we venture into discussing various types of minerals, it is imperative to understand what exactly minerals are. We mine a lot of materials from earth’s crust. For example, metal ores, coal, oil, sand etc. For the purpose of definition, minerals are specifically defined as naturally occurring inorganic substances which are found in solid state. Minerals have a well-defined chemical structure, formula and crystal structures. Different minerals vary in their physical properties such as colour, density, crystal structure, hardness etc. Some minerals may be found in large abundance as compared to others. For example, silica can be considered as the most abundant mineral on earth’s crust. The abundance can also vary from location to location.
Broadly, minerals can be classified as metallic and non-metallic minerals.
Metallic Minerals: As the name suggests, metallic minerals are those which are formed by various metals by reacting with other elements. These minerals also show physical properties similar to metals, such as luster. Depending on the chemical composition, metallic minerals can be oxides, sulphides, carbonates, halides etc. But some of the metallic minerals are also found in their pure forms, such as gold. Iron is one of the most commonly used metals on earth, hence a sub-classification of metallic minerals can also be in the form of ferrous and non-ferrous minerals. Ferrous minerals contain iron while non –ferrous minerals do not contain iron.
All of the metallic ores such as magnetite, pyrite, bauxite, hematite etc. can be called metallic minerals.
Non-Metallic Minerals: These minerals do not contain any metals, so they generally have non-metallic physical properties. Though we cannot extract metals from these minerals, non-metallic minerals are still of immense use to humankind. Silica is one of the most abundant non-metallic minerals and is used for construction activities. Coal is used to produce heat which is in-turn used to produce electrical power in thermal power plants. Diamond is a rare mineral which is used as a gemstone in jewellery.
The above discussed classification of minerals is at a broad level. You can also dig deeper within each classification for further details, but that is out of purview of this topic.
Here is a list of minerals which are immensely used to improve our day-to-day lives.
Hematite: It is a metallic mineral and an iron oxide. It’s formula is Fe2O3. It is used to extract iron and is one of the many iron ores. Other iron ores are magnetite, limonite and siderite.
Gold: Gold is also a metallic mineral which is generally found in its elemental form (i.e. not in a compound) or as an alloy with mercury or silver. Gold has been used since centuries as jewellery and as a store of value or currency.
Coal: Coal is a black hard substance which is mostly carbon. It is one of the most commonly used fossil fuels. It was earlier used to run steam engines but is now mostly used to produce electricity in thermal power stations. It is also used as a domestic fuel, albeit at a low scale.
Diamond: Diamond is another form of carbon which is one of the hardest substances found in nature. Some diamonds are very lustrous and are used as ornaments. Other diamonds, which do not find any use in jewellery, are used as cutters in industries.
Energy minerals are studied under the category of fossil fuels. They are quite visibly different than metallic and non-metallic minerals. But generally, students get confused between metallic and non-metallic minerals so for your clear understanding we are providing here key differences between metallic and non-metallic minerals –
So, this was a brief on minerals, their types and their uses. If you want to understand more and also learn other topics, you can log on to Vedantu website or also download Vedantu learning app.