Metals and Minerals

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Metals are opaque, lustrous elements that are good conductors of heat and electricity. Most metals are malleable and ductile and are, in general, denser than the other elemental substances.

Metal, any of a class of substances characterized by high electrical and thermal conductivity as well as by malleability, ductility, and high reflectivity of light.

Metals are used in:

  • Transportation - Cars, buses, trucks, trains, ships, and airplanes.
  • Aerospace - Unmanned and manned rockets and the space shuttle.
  • Computers and other electronic devices that require conductors (TV, radio, stereo, calculators, security devices, etc.)
  • Communications including satellites that depend on a tough but light metal shell.
  • Food processing and preservation - Microwave and conventional ovens and refrigerators and freezers.
  • Construction - Nails in conventional lumber construction and structural steel inother buildings.
  • Biomedical applications - As artificial replacement for joints and other prostheses.
  • Electrical power production and distribution - Boilers, turbines, generators, transformers, power lines, nuclear reactors, oil wells, and pipelines.
  • Farming - Tractors, combines, planters, etc.
  • Household conveniences - Ovens, dish and clothes washers, vacuum cleaners, blenders, pumps, lawn mowers and trimmers, plumbing, water heaters, heating/cooling, etc.

What are minerals?
A mineral is a natural substance with distinctive chemical and physical properties, composition, and atomic structure. The definition of an economic mineral is broader, and includes minerals, metals, rocks and hydrocarbons (solid and liquid) that are extracted from the earth by mining, quarrying and pumping. Economic minerals are used in a wide range of applications related to construction, manufacturing, agriculture and energy supply.

Economic minerals include: energy minerals, metals, construction minerals and industrial minerals.

Energy Minerals are used to produce electricity, fuel for transportation, heating for homes and offices and in the manufacture of plastics. Energy minerals include coal, oil, natural gas and uranium.

Metals have a wide variety of uses. For example, iron (as steel) is used in cars or for frames of buildings, copper is used in electrical wiring, and aluminium is used in aircraft and to make drink cans. Precious metals are used in jewellery and mobile phones.

Construction Minerals include sand and gravel, brick clay and crushed rock aggregates. They are used in the manufacture of concrete, bricks and pipes and in building houses and roads.

Industrial Minerals are non–metallic minerals used in a range of industrial applications including the manufacture of chemicals, glass, fertilisers and fillers in pharmaceuticals, plastics and paper. Industrial minerals include salt, clays, limestone, silica sand, phosphate rock, talc and mica.

Buildings and Advantages:
The kinds of advantages and disadvantages that you may face from using metal depend on how you intend to use it. If you wish to construct a metal building, such as an addition to your home like a garden shed, it has the advantage of being sturdy enough to not require the use of concrete pillars to keep it upright. Buildings made of metal also stand up well to weather -- unlike buildings made of wood -- and are less prone to burning.

Roofs and Advantages:
Some people view metal roofs as being good for the environment. Because metal is a good conductor of heat, it reflects the harsh midday sun, reducing cooling costs. This can save you money in energy bills. Metal roofs are also more durable than nonmetal roofs because they usually only need to be replaced every 50 years.

A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance that is formed through geological processes and that has a characteristic chemical composition, a highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not have a specific chemical composition. Minerals range in composition from pure elements and simple salts to very complex silicates with thousands of known forms. The study of minerals is called mineralogy.

Metals and Minerals