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Classification of Minerals

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  • Last Updated : 29 Mar, 2022
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Minerals are inorganic chemicals present naturally in the soil as well as dietary components that are necessary for a healthy life. They have a well-organized internal structure, crystalline forms, and unique chemical compositions. They are required for human health for a multitude of reasons, including immune system function, bone, brain, heart, and muscle function, hormone production, glucose control, and nervous system signal transmission. They collaborate with other nutrients to help us complete our daily duties faster and utilize other nutrients more efficiently, and they may be found in everyday things such as pottery, jewellery, and cosmetics. There are around 2,000 known elements on Earth, although this statistic is controversial since some feel there are more, while others say there are fewer due to research concerns. 

There are three types of minerals:

  • Metallic Minerals        
  • Non-Metallic Minerals    
  • Energy Minerals 

Non-Metallic Minerals 

 Non-metallic minerals include limestone, mica, coal, gypsum, dolomite, phosphate, salt, manganese, granite, and others. They are used in a variety of industries to produce a wide range of commodities. They are most typically found in sedimentary rocks, which form due to the aggregation of various components such as minerals, biological remains, rock particles, and so on. Non-metals are minerals (non-metallic minerals) that are rarely utilised as raw materials in the extraction of metals. Non-metals, which are present in a broad variety of minerals, are commercially significant. Metallic minerals have no lustre or glimmer. Minerals that are not metallic are good electrical and thermal insulators. 

Mica: Mica is found in the form of plates or leaves that may be separated into thin sheets. Because of its dielectric strength, low power loss factor, insulating qualities, and resistance to high voltage, it is employed in the electrical and electronics sectors. Mica comes in a variety of colours, including clear, black, green, red, yellow, and brown. Its deposits are mostly found in the Chota Nagpur plateau’s northern border.

Jharkhand’s Koderma-Gaya-Hazaribagh belt is the largest producer of mica. Ajmer (Rajasthan) and Nellore (Andhra Pradesh) are two other Mica-producing states. 

Limestone: Limestone is a rock mineral that may be found in sedimentary rocks. It’s made up of calcium carbonates or calcium and magnesium carbonates.  Limestone is used to process iron ore in steel companies’ blast furnaces and is the primary raw material used in cement production. Rajasthan has the highest proportion of limestone production in India, accounting for 21% in 2016-2017. 

Metallic minerals

These are minerals that contain one or more metals. Iron, copper, gold, bauxite, and manganese are examples of minerals that occur as mineral deposits and are great conductors of heat and electricity. They are malleable and ductile, allowing them to be easily hammered into thin sheets or stretched into wires to form new things.

They are most commonly found in igneous rocks formed as a result of the cooling and solidification of lava or magma. Certain metallic minerals can be used as gems in jewellery because they are frequently hard and have a dazzling surface. They are also employed in a range of industries for various reasons, such as silicon, which is obtained from quartz, is widely used in the computer industry, and aluminium, which is obtained from bauxite, is used in the automobile and bottling industries.  It is extremely precious since we receive the metal in its purest form.

There are two types of metallic minerals:

  •  Ferrous Minerals  
  •  Non-Ferrous Minerals 

Ferrous Minerals 

Ferrous minerals are those that have magnetic properties because of the presence of iron in the form of hydroxides, carbonates, or sulphides. These minerals are essential for a country’s metallurgical sector to thrive. Examples include hematite, magnetite, manganese, and other ferrous minerals. India exports a large quantity of ferrous minerals. These minerals provide as a firm foundation for the expansion of metallurgical businesses. These minerals account for almost three-fourths of total metallic mineral output value. 

Iron Ore: They are rocks and minerals that are mined for metallic iron on a commercial scale. Iron oxides are abundant in ores, ranging in hue from dark grey to bright yellow to deep purple to rusty red. Iron minerals include magnetite, hematite, goethite, limonite, and siderite. Natural ore, often known as “straight shipping ore,” is ore that has a high concentration of hematite or magnetite (greater than about 60% iron) and may be fed directly into blast furnaces to create iron. Iron ore is needed as a raw material to generate pig iron, which is a primary raw material used to make steel—steel accounts for 98 percent of all mined iron ore. 

Manganese: The most important manganese ores are the oxides pyrolusite,romanechite,manganite, and hausmannite, as well as the carbonate mineral rhodochrosite. The oxides are commonly found with silicate ores such as rhodizite and braunite. Only ores with a manganese concentration more than 35% are considered economically feasible. Manganese removes oxygen and Sulphur during the transformation of iron ore (an iron and oxygen combination) into iron. It’s also a crucial alloy in the conversion of iron to steel. It makes steel less brittle and strengthens it as an alloy. It is used to make insecticides, bleaching powder, and paints, among other things. Madhya Pradesh has the biggest share of manganese output in India in 2016-2017, accounting for 27 percent. 

Non-Ferrous Minerals

Non-ferrous metals are alloys or metals that do not include iron. Other non-ferrous elements are non-ferrous, with the exception of iron (Fe), which is frequently referred to as ferrite after the Latin word ferrum, which means “iron.” Nonferrous metals are more expensive than ferrous metals, but they have desirable attributes including lightweight (aluminium), high conductivity (copper), nonmagnetic properties, and corrosion resistance (zinc). A non-ferrous material utilised in the iron and steel industry is bauxite, which is used as flux in blast furnaces. Nonferrous metals such as chromite, pyrolusite, and wolframite can also be used to make ferrous alloys. Many nonferrous metals, on the other hand, have low melting points and are therefore unsuitable for high-temperature applications. 

Copper: Copper is primarily produced commercially by smelting or leaching, with electrodeposition from sulphides solutions frequently following. The majority of the copper produced is utilised in the electrical sector; the remainder is combined with other metals to form alloys. Brasses (copper and zinc), bronzes (copper and tin), and nickel silvers are all key alloy series in which copper plays a significant role (copper, zinc, and nickel, no silver).The main copper producers in India include the Khetri mines in Rajasthan, the Balaghat mines in Madhya Pradesh, and the Singhbhum region of Jharkhand. 

Bauxite: In the tropical zone, surface weathering of clay rocks creates bauxite, which is made of aluminium oxide. It is the only ore used for commercial aluminium extraction and contains 15–25 percent aluminium. Bauxite is commonly found at the surface, where it is mixed with clay minerals, iron oxide, and titanium dioxide. Bauxite is the primary source of aluminium used in the production of building cement. Aluminium is used in a wide range of applications, including transportation, consumer durables, packaging, electrical, mechanical, and refractory bricks, as well as abrasives. Aluminium is well-known for its low weight and strength. It is commonly used in the manufacture of cutlery, electrical devices, and other items. Madhya Pradesh’s main bauxite deposit locations include the Amarkantak plateau, the Maikal hills, and the Bilaspur-Katni plateau region. Odisha is India’s largest bauxite producer, accounting for 49 percent of total production. 

Energy Minerals 

Almost all activities, from cooking to the provision of light and heat, transportation and machines, rely on energy. Firewood, bovine dung cake, coal, petroleum, natural gas, and electricity are examples of traditional energy sources, whereas wind, tidal, geothermal, biogas, and atomic energy are examples of non-conventional energy sources. 

Non-Conventional source of Energy 

The energy obtained from limited fossil fuels is the polar opposite of this. These are energy-generating resources that are renewable.
A renewable source is a natural resource that replenishes depleted or exhausted resources over a certain period of time on a human time scale, either by natural reproduction or through recurring processes. 

Nuclear energy: Nuclear energy is the amount of energy contained in the nucleus of an atom. An atom is a microscopic particle that makes up all matter in the universe. Nuclear energy is released by nuclear processes such as fission and fusion. Nuclear energy is one of the most environmentally friendly conventional kinds of energy when compared to sources such as coal power plants since it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions during the creation of electricity. Nuclear energy, on the other hand, releases a substantial amount of radiation into the environment in the case of an accident. 

Biogas energy: Biogas is a naturally occurring gas created by anaerobic bacteria from the breakdown of organic waste that is used to generate electricity. Methane, carbon dioxide, a trace amount of hydrogen sulphides, and moisture make up biogas. Biogas is distinct from natural gas in that it is a renewable energy source generated biologically through anaerobic digestion, rather than a fossil fuel produced through geological processes. 

Conventional Source of Energy 

Energy from traditional sources or Non-renewable energy sources are limited resources that will eventually run out.
Non-renewable energy is defined as energy that does not regenerate at a fast enough rate to permit long-term economic extraction on human timeframes. Nonrenewable energy sources include coal, crude oil, natural gas, and uranium. 

Coal: Coal is a flammable black or brownish-black sedimentary rock found in seams that is combustible. Deep burial heat and pressure convert dead plant materials to peat, which is then transformed into coal over millions of years. Coal is utilised in the production of iron and steel, as well as in a variety of other industrial operations. Coal is widely used as an energy source. Following the invention of the steam engine, the need for coal increased dramatically.
In 2020, coal provided about a quarter of the world’s primary energy and over a third of its electricity. Coal is the most readily available fossil fuel in India. It provides a greater part of the country’s energy needs. Coal is a heavy material that decomposes into ash and loses weight. 

Natural Gas: Natural gas, like crude oil, is a nonrenewable gaseous resource that may be found beneath the earth’s crust. Methane makes up the majority of natural gas, although it can also contain propane, ethane, and butane. Because methane has no odor, it is mixed with a chemical to make it smell so that it may be identified if there is a leak.
Natural gas is extracted and transported to processing plants, where propane and butane, which are used to make liquefied petroleum gas, are extracted. Natural gas is used to heat homes, as well as in gas cookers, stoves, and barbecues. Natural gas is a “cleaner” fossil fuel than oil or coal, and it is relatively inexpensive. Only carbon dioxide and water vapor are created when natural gas is burnt (the same gases that humans breath!). This is a far greater option over coal. 

Sample Questions 

Question 1: What is the distinction between rocks and minerals?

Answer: 

Rocks  Minerals
Rock is a naturally occurring mineral aggregate. Minerals are naturally occurring homogeneous substances having a clear interior structure.
Rocks lack a distinct chemical composition. Minerals have a distinct chemical composition.
Some of the most common types of rocks include basalt, granite, sandstone, slate, and quartz.  Some minerals found on Earth include iron, silicon, magnesium, nickel, and calcium. 

Question 2: What are the importance of Coal as source of energy?

Answer:

Coal is the most extensively available and widely used energy source.

  • It is used to generate electricity, deliver energy to industry, and meet home demands.
  • It is utilised as a raw material in the production of coal tar and coal gas.
  • It is utilised as a fuel to power steam engines in railways and industry.
  • Cooking coal is also required for blast furnace smelting of iron ore. 

Question 3: What steps must be taken to ensure that mineral resources are used in a planned and sustainable manner?

Answer: 

Following steps to be taken:

  •  Recycling is a significant feature of minerals. Containers, aluminium cans, coins, and other similar materials are the most commonly recycled.
  •  Minerals are non-replaceable, hence alternate resources are required. Another critical component is resource planning.
  • The resource should be used in such a way that future generations are not inconvenienced. Priorities must be established in advance so that resources may be allocated appropriately.
  • Important technology must be improved to reduce waste throughout the various procedures of extracting minerals from ores. 

Question 4: What are the important characteristics of Peat and Anthracite?

Answer: 

Peat:  

  • Peat is produced by decaying plants in marshes.
  • It is burned as fuel or applied to soil to improve texture or increase water retention. 

Anthracite: 

  • It is used in the metal smelting and fabrication sectors, particularly as a reduction agent in a variety of applications such as briquetting charcoal, iron ore pellets, and other purposes.
  • It contains more than 90% carbon per kilograms and has the highest heating content per kg.
  • It is also required in residential and commercial spaces, as well as for heating.

Question 5: How atomic energy is produced?

Answer: 

  • Nuclear or atomic energy is the energy gained by modifying the structure of an atom.
  • When the structure of a radioactive atom, such as uranium, thorium, or plutonium, is altered, a significant quantity of energy is released.
  • The heat produced by such a process is utilised to create electricity. 

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