A mineral is defined as a natural homogeneous and mostly solid crystalline material that form the Earth and make up its rock. Majority of minerals are formed through inorganic processes and so far about 3,000 minerals have been identified. The mineral are classified on the basis of chemical structure and the physical properties such as hardness, specific gravity, colour and luster. Some minerals are chemically important as ores.
Classification of Minerals:
- Precious Metals and Diamonds (Gold, Platinum, Uranium).
- Metallic Minerals (Iron, Copper, Chromite, Tungtsten).
- Non-Metallic Minerals (Limestone, Marble, Salt, Sulphur).
- Fuel Minerals (Petroleum, Coal, Gas).
(1). Precious Metals:
The precious metals include gold, silver, platinum etc
Gold is among the most precious metals of the world. it is used formaking ornaments due to its golden beautiful colour and durability.
Gold Producing Regions:
Gold mines are found the following regions of the world:
(a). North America: Lake district & Noranda districts of Canada, South Dakota, UTah, Alaska, California (USA)
(b).Africa: South Africa, Ghana and Zimbabwe.
(c). Australia: Kalgoorlie, Coolgardie, Kimberley, Ballart Bendigo, Mount Morgan.
(d). Asia: China, Indonesia and Philippines.
(e). South America: Brazil, Chile, Peru, New Guinea, Papua and Columbia.
Major Gold Producing Countries (Thousand Kg)
Platinum was discovered in 1557 in Central America by a French scientist Julius Schaliger and named it ”Little Silver” which is called Platina in Spanish language. Platinum is used jewelry, dentistry, magnets, electrical resistance wires, surgical tools and electrodes. Platinum resists tarnishing and corrosion.
Uranium is a very rare precious metal which is mostly used as a fuel for nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. It has radioactive elementss belonging to Actinide series. A German scientist, Martin Klaproth discovered it in 1989. Uranium has many isotopes. Among these isotopes Uranium-235 is highly fissile and sustains neutron chain reaction as a fuel for nuclear reactors. Uranium is found in nature in the form of ores.
Uranium Producing Regions:
Production from the top uranium-producing countries has risen fairly steadily over the last decade or so, going from 41,282 tonnes in 2007 to 53,656 tonnes in 2019. Output of the energy fuel peaked during that period when it topped 62,638 tonnes in 2016.
The majority of the uranium mined around the world ends up as U3O8, a vital component of the atomic energy sector that is used to power nuclear reactors.
Currently 10 percent of the world’s electricity is generated by nuclear energy, and that number is expected to grow. Another by-product of mined ore is uranium oxide, which is used in glass, ceramics and for optic applications.
Uranium Producing Countries of the World:
As mentioned, Kazakhstan had the highest uranium production in the world in 2019. In fact, the country’s total output of 22,808 tonnes accounted for 43 percent of global uranium supply.
When last recorded in 2017, Kazakhstan had 745,300 tonnes of known recoverable uranium resources, second only to Australia. Most of the uranium in the country is mined via an in-situ leaching process. Kazataprom, the country’s national uranium-mining company, is the world’s largest uranium producer with a number of projects and partnerships in various jurisdictions.
Canada was the world’s second largest uranium-producing country in 2019, accounting for 13 percent of global output at 6,938 tonnes of uranium. That was a decrease from the 7,001 tonnes it produced in 2018, and a significant decline from 2017’s 13,116 tonnes.
Saskatchewan’s Cigar Lake and McArthur River are considered the the world’s two top uranium mines. Both projects are operated by sector major Cameco (TSX:CCO,NYSE:CCJ).
Australia’s uranium production rose in 2019 to 6,613 tonnes, up from 2018’s 6,517 tonnes. The island nation holds 29 percent of the world’s known recoverable uranium resources.
Australia is home to Olympic Dam, the largest known single deposit of uranium in the world. While the country does permit some uranium-mining activity, it is opposed to using nuclear energy. During his 2019 re-election campaign, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a radio station he is not totally opposed to looking at nuclear energy to power the country. The statement instantly brought media scrutiny, and Morrison’s opponent latched onto the idea that the prime minister was considering atomic energy.
Namibia’s uranium production rose to 5,525 tonnes in 2018, but slipped slightly in 2019. Despite the small decline, production still topped 5,000 tonnes to come in at 5,476 tonnes.(e). Niger:Niger’s uranium production increased slightly year-over-year, with output totaling 2,983 tonnes in 2019. The African nation has two uranium mines in production, SOMAIR and COMINAK, which account for 5.5 percent of the world’s uranium production.Both projects are operated by subsidiaries of Orano, a private uranium miner with projects in top uranium-producing countries Kazakhstan and Canada.
Russia was in sixth place in terms of uranium production in 2019. Output has been steady in the country since 2011, usually coming in near the 3,000 tonne range.
The top uranium-producing country is expected to increase its production in the coming years to meet its energy needs and growing uranium demand around the world. However, Russian uranium has been an area of controversy in recent years, with the US conducting a Section 232 investigation around the security of uranium imports from that region.
In terms of domestic uranium production, Rosatom, a subsidiary of ARMZ Uranium Holding, owns the country’s Priargunsky underground mine and is working on developing the Vershinnoye deposit in Southern Siberia through a subsidiary.
In 2019, Uzbekistan produced an estimated 2,404 tonnes of uranium. Domestic uranium production has been locked at the 2,404 tonne per year level since 2016. Although the country is seventh in terms of global uranium output, it is expanding production via Japanese and Chinese joint ventures.
(2). Other Metallic Minerals:
1. Iron Ore:
In nature, iron is not found in pure form but exists in the shape of compounds with other elements. These compounds are called iron ores such as Hematite (Fe2O3 ), Magnetite (Fe3O4 ) and Iron pyrite (Fe2O2) . Occurrence of Iron is mainly obtained from the following ores of the world:
- Magnetite (72%).
- Mematite (70%).
- Limonite (50%).
- Siderite (48%)
List of Major Iron Producing Countries is as under:
Copper is another important metal which has been serving man since ancient times. it is used in ship building, locomotives, electric wires and utensils. Copper occurs in the following regions.
(3). Non-Metalic Mineral:
Non-metalic minerals of thw world include sulphur, marble, salt and coal.
(a). Sulphur: It is yellow non-metallic solid element which occurs in crystalline and amorphous forms. Large deposits of sulphur are found in Iraq and Pakistan.
(b). Marble: Marble is a rock comprising of limestone. Pure marble is white calcite but impurities such as silica, dolomite or clay minerals give it various colours. It is found in many countries such as Pakistan, Italy, Lebanon.
(c). Salt: Salt is the name given to sodium chloride which is a crystalline solid. Similarly, other compounds formed by the action of acid with a base are also called salts.
Rich deposits of salt are found in Pakistan.
(d). Coal: Coal is a carbonceous mineral deposit which results from compaction and heating of fossil matter under the surface of Earth. Coal is used as fuel and raw material for the plastics and chemical industries. Rich deposits of coal are found in China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Romania, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, UK, USA and Vietnam.
(4). Fuel Mineral:
Fuel minerals include Coal, Petroleum, gas and other metallic fuel minerals. Petroleum or Crude Oil is the main raw material of the petroleum industry. At international level, the petroleum industry explores, extracts, refine and sells petroleum products. Detail of Coal and uranium has been given in the above headings. While main Petroleum producing countries are as under.
- Oil Producing Nations: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Russia, Norway, Venezuela, Nigeria, Libya, Algeria, Mexico, Angola, Kazakhstan and Canada are the top oil producing countries. These countries export millions of barrels of either refined or crude oil per day.
- Oil Consuming Countries: The biggest consumers of oil are USA, China, Japan, Germany, S.Korea, France, India, Italy, Spain, Taiwan, Netherland, Singapore, Belgium, Turkey and Pakistan.
- OPEC: Organization of petroleum exporting countries (OPEC) was established in 1960. Presently, it consists of 12 countries viz. Algeria, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Venezuela. headquarter of OPEC is located in Vienna since 1965. According to a recent survey, the OPEC accounts for two third of world’s total oil reserves and 33 percent of production.
Natural Gas is also extracted from Earth. It is also made from the fossilized bodies of living things. Natural gas is the product of Hydrogen and Carbon. It is very essential fuel source, which is largely used in households, internal combustion engines, factories and other machinery. Natural gas is found in three form viz. Liquid Petroleum Gas, Compressed Natural Gas and Liquified Natural Gas. Main producers of the Natural Gas are:
Regional Gas production since 1990 to 2019 and its growth.