Coverage of Minerals and Current Focus

The term "minerals" is strictly defined in mineralogical disciplines. In this chapter, however, I use the term more flexibly to refer to a group of resources extracted by mining and quarrying; this includes metals, semi-metals, industrial nonmetal minerals, and construction minerals. Although the primary focus will be on metals, I will also discuss common issues that are shared with other minerals. The fossil energy resource is sometimes grouped with mineral resources as "nonrenewable resources," but I will not address the sustainability of energy resources here (see Loschel et al., this volume). It should be noted, however, that plastics—one of the key industrial materials groups—are produced from fossil resources. Therefore, some of the issues discussed herein (e.g., recycla-bility of materials) apply as well to materials derived from fossil fuels.

The nonenergy minerals addressed in this chapter include:

1. Metals a. Base: iron, aluminium, copper, zinc, lead b. Precious: gold, silver, platinum group metals (PGM)

c. Rare: indium, gallium, tellurium

2. Nonmetal minerals a. Industrial: limestone, dolomite b. Fertilizer: potash, phosphate rock c. Construction minerals: crushed stone (aggregate), sand, gravel

Industrial and construction minerals are often used as extracted, without further conversion or processing, whereas metals are mined as ores and require beneficiation and processing.

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