There are many misconceptions regarding mineral usages.
Most people do not know or do not think about just how many minerals, metallic or non-metallic, form an essential part of their lives from the food they eat, to the structure of their homes, their household devices, their gadgetry, their automobiles, even their toothpaste.
That is not even to mention the vital role of minerals in the greater infrastructure such as transportation, communications and energy. Indeed the old adage will always remain true, “if you don’t grow it or hunt it, you have to mine it”. Everything that’s not a plant or animal is a mineral.
Far from being an industry of the past, as our paramount demands and the demands of the world population become greater, the need for minerals becomes greater. Consider the enormous increase in minerals production and consumption required as the developing nations, where the bulk of the world’s population and population growth is located, improve their infrastructures and standards of living. Minerals are required for a society’s basic needs and for its higher aspirations.
Consider our most basic requirement, food. Most people know that we need small quantities of minerals such as iron, salt, and zinc in our diets to remain healthy. But they rarely think of the huge quantities of fertilizer minerals such as potash and phosphates, which are required if crop yields are to be maintained at a high level. Metals are used in all of the machines and equipment used to cultivate, harvest, and process these crops and transport them to markets.
Rocks and minerals play a major role in transportation. Gravel, crushed stone, cement tar, and asphalt are needed to build roads and all manner of vehicles from tricycles to jet liners require minerals.
Minerals are literally today’s building blocks. Skyscrapers, hospitals, bridges, factories, restaurants, railroads, driveways – rocks and minerals are everywhere.
Modern medicine relies on many drugs and instruments also made from minerals. Protection from X-rays is offered by a lead apron. Sulphur and salts are basic ingredients in many drugs and pharmaceuticals. Many other minerals are used in vitamins, mineral supplements, and medicines.
Virtually all consumer products contain natural resources from the earth whether it is soapstone for powders, trons for glass, or petroleum products for plastics.
Do you enjoy music and the arts? Think of wind instruments without brass or silver, pigments for paints, marble and other rocks for statues and architecture, gems and precious metals for jewelry.
It’s hard to find an industry that doesn’t use some form of rock or mineral for manufacturing a product or providing a service.
Imagine how very difficult it would be to face the challenges of this ongoing pandemic if we did not have the minerals to confront it with – from the mineral supplements that we take, to the PPEs that we use, to the laboratory instruments needed to develop the vaccine against COVID-19.
Minerals are an essential part of our everyday life – especially now, when people are fighting for their lives.
(Adapted from IEC material