Minerals are source of almost all material used in industry. Construction materials, metals, glass and even plastics are made of minerals. The economically important accumulations of minerals are called mineral resources.
Types of mineral resources
In terms related to mining also rocks are labeled as a mineral resource, keep in mind that strict mineral definition does not apply here. Even rocks, coal or oil are considered to be minerals. Basic types of mineral resources are ore resources, non-ore resources, coal, oil and gas (alsko known as fossil fuels). Minerals occur on many places which are usually known as occurence – they are either not economically important or there was no prospection done yet. Mineral accumulations with just basic documentation are called inferred mineral resources. Better sampled and more studied mineral resources are called indicated mineral resources. The most extensively studied and measured mineral accumulations are know as measured mineral resources.
The term mineral reserves is usually applied only to defined and well documented deposits. Mineral reserves are resources known to be economically feasible for extraction. Keep in mind that economy of each deposits changes in time with the mineral price. The exactly documented parts of deposit are called proven reserves, the rest of less documented resources is called probable reserves.
Exploration of mineral resources
The process used to find mineral resources is called mineral exploration. Geologists usually use various techniques of mapping, geophysical and geochemical methods and various types of sampling to find economically interesting mineral resource. The positive result of mineral exploration is to define location, tonnage, grade and composition of proven and probable reserves.
Mining mineral resources
Extraction of minerals from the ground is called mining. At first geologists provide detailed documentation of mineral reserves. After that mining engineers prepare the most safe, cost effective and efficient method to extract minerals. The common method to extract rocks in large volumes is called quarrying. Large scale surface mining of ores or coil often results in huge open pit mines. Most ore deposits are located quite deep so underground mining is used. Oil and gas are mined from special oil rigs with deep drills.