What is mineral?
The word mineral is very closely related to another word - ‘mine’. But it is not true that minerals are found only in mines. Practically minerals are present in all forms of rocks, soil particles and even in water.
On the Earth, minerals are present as chemical compounds. Each of such compounds consists of a metal and a non-metal component. Iron, Copper, Zinc, Silver, Gold, etc., are metals and Oxygen, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Carbon, Sulphur, Phosphorus, etc., are non-metals.
Now we will discuss about the differences between a metal and a non-metal. Metal is an element having shiny look with metallic lusture. Metal can be hammered out into thin sheets and has a property of being drawn out into wire. It develops metallic sound when it is hit by any rigid body since all metals are solid except mercury. Non-metals are also elements but do not possess such properties.
Certain rocks are rich in metallic elements and they are known as ores. Generally ores are present deep under the Earth’s crust and to avail it we have to dig it out. The deep pits, from which we collect the ores, are called mines. When we process a specific ore, we can obtain a metal from it and we get iron, aluminium, copper, gold, etc., from their specific ores.
Besides the metallic ores two other very important materials are obtained from underground, which are the fossil fuels like coal and petroleum. These are not obtained from ores but we can treat these as minerals because these are collected by digging.