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9.2: Ore Minerals

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    Ores and ore minerals vary greatly in quality. Ideal ores contain 100% ore minerals. Such ores do not exist, but some come close. Ideal ore minerals contain 100% of the commodity of interest. Native copper, for example, is an ideal copper ore mineral. Ideal ore minerals are, however, uncommon. The most commonly mined ores are not ideal. Instead they are rich in ore minerals that can be processed relatively inexpensively to isolate desired components.

    The table seen here lists common ore minerals for various metals. The minerals include the native metals copper and gold, and many sulfides, oxides, and hydroxides. Minerals in these groups are generally good ore minerals because they contain relatively large amounts of the desired elements. Furthermore, processing and element extraction are usually straightforward and relatively inexpensive. That is why we mine Cu and Cu-Fe sulfides for their copper content and iron oxides for their iron content.

    Silicate minerals, although common, are generally poor ore minerals and are not included in the table. For example, although aluminum is found in many common silicates, tight bonding makes producing metallic aluminum from silicates uneconomical. We obtain most aluminum from Al-hydroxides found in bauxite deposits.

    We discussed igneous and sedimentary minerals in previous chapters. In the following section, we focus on economic minerals that belong to other groups.

    Some Common Ore Minerals
    metal mineral formula
    Al gibbsite
    boehmite
    diaspore
    Al(OH)3
    AlO(OH)
    AlO(OH)
    Fe magnetite
    hematite
    goethite
    siderite
    pyrite
    Fe3O4
    Fe2O3
    FeO(OH)
    FeCO3
    FeS2
    Cu copper
    chalcopyrite
    bornite
    chalcocite
    covellite
    Cu
    CuFeS2
    Cu5FeS4
    Cu2S
    CuS
    Ni pentlandite
    garnierite
    (Ni,Fe)9S8
    (Ni,Mg)3Si2O5(OH)4
    Zn sphalerite
    wurtzite
    zincite
    franklinite
    ZnS
    ZnS
    ZnO
    ZnFe2O4
    Mn hausmannite
    polianite
    pyrolusite
    cassiterite
    Mn3O4
    MnO2
    MnO2
    SnO2
    Cr chromite FeCr2O4
    Pb galena
    cerussite
    PbS
    PbCO3
    Ag gold
    calaverite
    Au
    AuTe2

    This page titled 9.2: 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.