The minerals are omnipresent in our society, being integral part of everyday life. Our dependence to this non-renewable resource is always growing. Most building materials, for example, are derived from mineral. Besides the construction, they are widely used in the automotive industry, in aerospace as well as in most new technologies. During the exploration, that involves the research of rocks with mineral potential, geologists need to know the minerals. In fact, geologists look for rocks including minerals that contain metals. To understand the exploration, it is significant to know the definition of the rock, a mineral and the ore.
The rocks are materials that make up the earth's crust. So, it is in the rocks that we find minerals. There are three main kinds of rocks:
- igneous rocks,
- sedimentary rocks,
- And metamorphic rocks.
Igneous rocks or magmatic are formed from magma cooling. They can come from a volcanic environment when they are born of a volcano eruption or they may come from a plutonic environment when they not result of a volcanic activity. These are always intrusive while the first can be intrusive or extrusive. The intrusive rocks are formed as a result of slow cooling of magma below the surface of the Earth's crust, while the extrusive rocks are formed as a result of faster cooling of magma to the surface.
Again, for the intrusive igneous rocks, there is a classification. This classification is realized from the texture of the rock. We frequently talk of porphyry and gabbro and these are, in reality, textures of intrusive igneous rocks. The porphyritic texture is characterized by the presence of wide crystals trapped in a smaller grains matrix. The gabbro has coarser grains and contains mostly dark minerals.
A mineral is a pure natural species mainly inorganic. Minerals are combinations of atoms forming the crystal lattices (crystals). Found in the solid state, minerals are defined by specific chemical formulas. Each mineral has very specific properties. These properties; optical, physical, chemical and magnetic are useful to identify minerals. So far, there are over 4000 species of minerals on Earth. A sub category of minerals is the metallic minerals, widely found in Canada. Metallic minerals are melted to extract the metal trapped in the crystal lattice. In popular jargon, the metals are divided into two categories whether precious metals and base metals. However, depending of the classification of minerals, the list is much more exhaustive. As regards minerals, we find two main categories, non-silicate minerals (that do not contain silicon) and the silicates or silicate minerals (containing silicon). In non-silicate minerals, one of the most important categories in exploration is the one of sulphides and sulphosalts. As regards the sulfide, sulfur is combined with one or more metals while suphosalts sulfur is combined with a metal and a semimetal. These compounds are among the most important because they are associated with several base metals (copper (Cu), lead (Pb), zinc (Zn), nickel (Ni) and mercury (Hg)).
The term ore can be changed in the time since it is dependent of supply and demand. So, ores are rocks containing minerals in sufficient quantities to justify its exploitation and thereby, its profitability.