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Mining

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Types of Minerals

An introduction to the mineral groups and their members

Base Metals

In mining, these are nonferrous, non-precious metals that are one of the most common metal groups and a key Australian export. Common base metals include copper, lead, nickel, tin, titanium, aluminum and zinc. 

Battery Metals

These are metals commonly associated with the electric vehicle supply chain and energy storage industry. Constituents include lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite. 

Coal

These are rocks composed mainly of carbon and used in the power and steel industry. Coal is often categorised into two segments: 

  • Thermal coal which is used for generating electricity; and 

  • Metallurgical coal which is processed into coke for use as fuel and reactant in steelmaking blast furnaces.

Ferrous Metals

Refers to metals that contain iron and magnetic qualities. Iron ore is the main ferrous metal produced in Australia, and commonly processed into steel, pig iron and stainless steel.

Noble Metals

These are metals that are resistant to corrosion and oxidation in moist air. They tend to have high economic value and commonly used in jewelry, currency or investments. They include gold, silver, platinum, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium, iridium and osmium among others. 

Oil & Gas

Involves the extraction of hydrocarbon from underground sources. 

  • Conventional methods involve drilling of oil wells through cap rock and allowing the flow of crude oil, condensate or natural gas to the surface. 

  • Unconventional petroleum refers to oil and gas extraction that requires additional technology in order to liberate the hydrocarbons. A common technology is hydraulic fracturing and used when underground formations have low permeability and low porosity. Examples of unconventional resources include coal seam gas, tight gas, shale gas and shale oil. 

Rare Earths Elements

These metals infrequently occur in commercial quantities on earth, but recent technological advances have led to its growing importance in supply chains. 

  • They are commonly used in magnets, motors, semi-conductors, medical imaging and lasers. 

  • The family contains 15-18 element depending on categorization.

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