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Minerals and Their Uses, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 367

Essay

Abstract

Using the information in Table 1.1 of the textbook, identify five different materials that you encounter or use on a daily basis, and identify a mineral that is mined to supply each of those materials. Can you think of any considerations, other than economic, that might prohibit or limit the mining of certain minerals?

Five different materials/minerals which the general public encounter on a daily basis are:

-Gold (Au), which occurs in much of the jewellery worn by people.

-Graphite (C), which is used in pencil lead.

-Copper (Cu), which occurs in electrical wires and plugs.

-Halite (NaCl), which is common salt, and used in food as well as elsewhere.

-Calcite (CaCO3), which is mined to be used in cement, in turn used in construction work.

Issues which might surround the extraction and mining of these minerals are often complex. Firstly, especially in countries such as the USA, Canada or Australia, First Nations and Native peoples may have rights to the lands where the minerals are in the earth. There are often strong cultural or religious reasons for people not wanting a landscape destroyed in order to extract precious minerals. An example of this is the Black Hills of Dakota in the United States, an area rich in gold, but also sacred to the Lakota people.

Secondly, there is an obvious environmental risk to any mineral extraction programme. Land which is of ecological value can often be destroyed or severely disrupted by the mineral extraction process, leaving a scarred landscape. Water courses can also be polluted, and air quality lowered by certain extractive processes.

Thirdly, the proximity of large population centres might also limit the extraction of some minerals. Mining and other extractive processes can cause land to shift and move, and might place large population centres in some danger.

Lastly, minerals may well be in remote or hard to access areas of the world. Gold and diamonds, for example, can be found in abundance in certain areas of Africa, but these areas are often very remote with few facilities. Political strife can also make it even harder to reach mineral deposits in areas such as this.

References

Lutgens, F. K., E. J. Tarbuck, and D. Tasa. Foundations of Earth Science. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Prentice Hall, 2010 p.31

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