Fascinating features of ores and minerals

We come across several metals in our daily life that we use directly or otherwise. The most common ones that come to our mind immediately are of course gold and silver. They are mainly used for making jewellery and other ornaments (they do have many industrial applications as well).

But what about Iron, Aluminium, Zinc, mercury and a host of others.  They are also used but in different forms. For instance Iron as part of steel  is used in the production of a large number of articles of household and industrial  use.

Have you ever thought about how we get them and from where? Some of us have and many of us already know the answer.

This intention of this article is to mainly highlight the original form in which these metals exist. Perhaps at a later date discuss the methods or extraction and then how they are converted to a usable form and utilised in our daily life.

These minerals have often beautiful shape and color. One is mesmerized at the attractive colours and shapes too.

In Bangalore the famous Raman Research Institute has a separate unit consisting of a huge collection of these minerals and precious stones (Gathered by the Nobel laureate, Sir CV Raman himself from various parts of the world) some of which are extremely expensive. The authorities permit a visit to this exhibition with prior permission. it is definetly worth a visit.

OK back to our subject, let us first clarify the difference between a ore and a mineral.

A mineral is the native form in which the metal exists. Example magnetite is a mineral of Iron of the formula Fe3O4, which is extracted from the soil which is rich in it.

An ore is a mineral from which the metal can be extracted economically.  If you scoop a little mud from your garden it might contain traces of iron. But it cannot be called an ore because you cannot extract iron out of it in a profitable way.

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C.V. Raman
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