What are minerals used for?
Since ancient civilization, humans have applied mining techniques when mining rocks and minerals on Earth’s surface. The importance of minerals in our everyday lives can be recognized all around us. From eating nutrient-rich foods to powering smartphones with copper, almost everything we use is a mineral resource. Here are a few common ways we use minerals today.
Minerals are common in vitamin products
Mined minerals are an important part of human nutrition. Iron, manganese, selenium, and calcium all provide day-to-day nutrients that the body needs in order to function. Foods that are full of micronutrients (or vitamins and minerals) can help strengthen cells, fight against harmful viruses, and boost the immune system.
We use minerals in school, on the farm, and in the kitchen
Minerals?can be found in many of the products that we know and love. In fact, we use or consume more than 25 minerals daily. Some of these include:
- Graphite is often referred to as the most stable form of carbon. Since the early 17th century, the Greeks have used graphite as a writing tool–or pencil.
- Also known as brown coal, Lignite is a mineral that takes millions of years to form. Lignite helps to generate electricity and can be found in plant fertilizer products.
- Every cell in our bodies uses Phosphorus because it promotes growth and energy. This reactive mineral is an active ingredient in items like baking soda, glass, and kitchenware.
- Minerals can be found in batteries, jet engines, and other modern technologies
Minerals and metals became an integral part of modern technology because they have the power to create everything from home energy storage to AA batteries.
Every mined product tells a story.
Here are three of the earth’s most common minerals and their uses:
|Copper was originally refined from its ores to make instruments, weapons, and hunting tools.
This popular metal is applied to a number of minerals, such as cuprite (copper oxide) and bornite.
Copper is also one of the best conductors of electricity, which is why it’s used to make computer chips, wiring, smartphone displays, and car parts.
Learn more about how copper shapes our lives.
|Nickel is a silvery chemical element that is typically made from two mineral deposits, pentlandite and pyrrhotite.
Since the 19th century, nickel has been a component of coins in the United States, India, Switzerland and Canada.
We now use nickel to make electric guitar strings, microphone capsules, jet engines, and power cells.
|Lithium is a soft chemical element that gained praise after being discovered to treat psychiatric diseases in the mid-1800s. Today, lithium and its compounds have been used to:
- Make Li-Ion batteries
- Produce commercial electric vehicles
- Create underwater subsea electrification
- Power telecommunication devices
Minerals are only one piece of a giant puzzle that helps us meet the demands of the modern world. Learn more about other mined products by reading these articles: