Mineral and Power Resources
Minerals: A naturally occurring substance which has a definite chemical composition is called mineral. Minerals can be identified on the basis of their physical properties and chemical properties.
Ore: A rock from which a particular mineral can be profitably extracted is called ore. Out of more than 28,000 types of minerals known till date, only about 100 are considered are ores.
Types of Minerals
On the basis of composition, minerals are classified into two main categories:
- Metallic Minerals
- Non-metallic minerals
Minerals which contain metals in raw forms are called metallic minerals. Metallic minerals are further classified into ferrous and non-ferrous minerals.
- Ferrous Minerals: Minerals which contain iron are called ferrous minerals, e.g. iron ore, manganese and chromite.
- Non-ferrous Minerals: Minerals which do not contain iron are called non-ferrous minerals, e.g. bauxite, tin, copper, gold, etc.
Minerals which do not contain metals are called non-metallic minerals, e.g. limestone, mica, coal, petroleum, etc.
Extraction of Minerals
Minerals can be extracted by different processes, which are as follows:
The process of taking out minerals buried under the rocks is called mining. There are two main methods of mining, viz. open-cast mining and shaft mining.
Open Cast Mining
When minerals are taken out by removing the surface layer, the process is called open-cast mining. Minerals which lie at shallow depths are extracted by this process.
When deep bores (called shafts) are made to reach the mineral deposits at great depth, the process is called shaft mining.
When deep wells are bored to take out the mineral, the process is called drilling. Petroleum and natural gas are extracted by this method.
When minerals are simply dug out from near the surface, the process is called quarrying.
Distribution of Minerals
Metallic minerals are usually found in igneous and metamorphic rock formations that form large plateaus. Non-metallic minerals are usually found in sedimentary rock formations of plains and young fold mountains.
Iron ore deposits are found in China and India. Asia produces more than half of the world's tin. China, Malaysia and Indonesia are among the leading producers of tin in the world. China is also a leading producer of lead, antimony and tungsten. Deposits of manganese, bauxite, nickel, zinc and copper are also found in Asia.
Europe is the leading producer of iron-ore. Russia, Ukraine, Sweden and France have large deposits of iron ore. Deposits of copper, lead, zinc, manganese and nickel are found in Eastern Europe and European Russia.
There are three regions in North America which have mineral deposits and they are as follows:
- The Canadian region: Iron ore, nickel, gold, uranium and copper
- The Appalachian region: Coal
- Mountain ranges of the west: Copper, lead, zinc, gold and silver
Brazil is the largest producer of high grade iron ore. Chile and Peru are the leading producers of copper. Brazil and Bolivia are among the leading producers of tin. Deposits of gold, silver, zinc, chromium, manganese, bauxite, mica, platinum, asbestos and diamond are also found in South America. Mineral oil is found in Venezuela, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Columbia.
Africa is the largest producer of diamond, gold and platinum. A large portion of the world's gold is produced in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zaire. Copper, iron ore, chromium, uranium, cobalt and bauxite are also found in Africa. Oil is found in Nigeria, Libya and Angola.
Australia is the largest producer of bauxite. Australia is among the leading producers of gold, diamond, iron ore, tin and nickel. Copper, lead, zinc and manganese are also found in Australia. Large deposits of gold are present in Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie areas of Western Australia.
Geologists have estimated deposits of a variety of minerals in Antarctica. Forecasts have been made about significant coal deposits in the Transantarctic Mountains. Iron is estimated to be present near the Prince Charles Mountains of East Antarctica.