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1.1.2: Ore Minerals

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    Ore minerals are especially significant to our daily lives. These are minerals that are mined and processed for the elements they contain. Some of the most important elements include iron, aluminum, copper, zinc, and other metals associated with steel making and modern industry. The table to the right lists common ore minerals for a number of important metals. These minerals are prized because they contain a large amount of the desired metal and because processing to remove the metal is relatively easy.

    1.4 Malachite (green) and azurite (blue) from Morenci, Arizona. Both minerals are hydrated copper carbonates.

    This photo (Figure 1.4) shows a rock containing the ore minerals azurite (blue) and malachite (green). The specimen comes from the Morenci Mine, the most productive of about a dozen copper mines in Arizona. Arizona produces more copper than any other U.S. state. Although copper is mined around the world, Chile is the biggest producer by far.

    People produce and use huge amounts of copper, iron, aluminum, and some other metals, but production statistics do not reflect the true importance of some mining operations. Small amounts of rare elements, for example gallium, indium, and selenium, derived from equally rare minerals, and only produced in small quantities, are keys to fast computers, smart phones, and other cutting-edge devices.

    Minerals are produced, bought, and sold on a world market. And, mineral resources are not everywhere. So, today, the United States does not produce gallium, indium, selenium, and some other metals in sufficient amounts to meet our needs. We are entirely dependent on imports for about 20 important mineral commodities.

    Ore Minerals
    bauxite (mix of Al-hydroxides)
    bornite Cu5FeS4
    chalcocite Cu2S
    chalcopyrite CuFeS2
    malachite Cu2CO3(OH)2
    chromite (Fe,Mg)Cr2O4
    galena PbS
    hematite Fe2O3
    ilmenite FeTiO3
    magnetite Fe3O4
    molybdenite MoS2
    pyrolusite MnO2
    scheelite CaWO4
    wolframite (Fe,Mn)WO4
    sphalerite ZnS

    This page titled 1.1.2: Ore Minerals is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Dexter Perkins via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.