11 Interesting facts about metals & minerals!
Before we start, let’s clarify the difference between the two, so as to address any confusions:
According to icmm.com:
“Minerals are solid, naturally occurring inorganic substances found in the Earth’s crust. They have a unique chemical composition and crystal structure. Metals are elementary substances, such as gold, silver and copper. They are crystalline when solid and naturally occur in minerals.”
Metals & minerals play a huge role in our lives, here’s some facts you may not have known about them:
1. The first metals to be mined out of the Earth by humans were the elements gold and copper. While their mining techniques were not as sophisticated as the ones we have today, humans as far back as 8700 BC were known to have unearthed copper from the ground, and even more surprisingly copper pipes have been found, dating back over 500 years.
2. When considering power consumption, the every American uses about 3.4 tons of coal. Nearly 50% of all electricity generated in the US comes from mined coal and uranium.
3. Petroleum has become so omnipresent that it is present in over 6000 items that we use on a daily basis. Don’t just think gas and oil, but think how many things do NOT have plastics. Nearly everything we use these days has some sort of plastic component.
4. The idiomatic phrase ‘the luck of the Irish’ has its etymology origin in mining. It comes from the fact that during the Gold rush in the US, many of the successful mines were from Irish immigrants. Therefore, the Irish who were involved in mining seemed to be very lucky people indeed, getting their ‘pot of gold’.
5. The typical electronical device contains well over 35 different minerals. Platinum, gold and copper for conducting electricity, aluminum for lightweight frames, zinc for batteries, silicon for making chip wafers just to name a few.
6. Over 80% of the world’s gold supply is still in the earth’s crust and in mountains. Which means we have ourselves used or are keeping in storage 20% of the entire planet’s reserve of gold. It is sobering to realize that gold is a finite resource and we will eventually run out of it, as it is used more and more in electronics.
7. In the 1600 beer brewers in England had shortages of wood, which is used to be burned and the heat then used to dry the malts. As a substitute, they tried using coal to dry their malts, needless to say the idea was not loved by the consumer!
8. It is true that thousands of years ago salt was so valuable that it was worth the same as gold (by weight).
9. While copper is the most widely used in wire and conducting electricity, silver is actually the best conductor, however it is more scarce, therefore more expensive.
10. Silver and copper are naturally anti-bacterial. Bacteria cannot grow on their surfaces. The chemical make up of these elements is such that their ions destroy bacteria in a few ways:
- by binding to receptors on the cell wall, and preventing transport of of some substances
- by blocking the cell’s respiratory system
- by interacting with the cell’s DNA and preventing bacterial cell division
11. Zinc is a vital element for the body’s health and immune system. Zinc is also the fourth most widely consumed mineral.
Want to see some beautiful minerals?
At Kalamazoo, we mine for crushed rock, and our quarries produce rock with THE most amazing colors in the area. Visit our website to see for yourself.