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Common Minerals & Their Uses

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  • 0:03 Common Minerals
  • 0:24 Aluminim, Clay, and Copper
  • 1:52 Gold, Lithium, and Mica
  • 3:03 Nickel, Quartz,…
  • 4:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Minerals are used in everything from batteries to clocks. After completing this lesson, you'll have a better understanding of some common minerals and their uses in everyday life.

Common Minerals

Minerals are naturally-occurring solid inorganic substances. All you have to do is to look around: you'll see many products that use common minerals. For example, your soda can is made from a common mineral. Many watches are also powered by one. Let's take a look at some of these common minerals.

Aluminum, Clay, and Copper

This first common mineral is aluminum. It's a grayish-colored metal that occurs naturally as bauxite ore in the earth's crust. This particular metal is also the most abundant. It's found mostly in Jamaica, Brazil, Guinea, and other similar areas. Aluminum is processed from the oxide alumina. It is this aluminum that makes up your soda can or aluminum wrap for leftovers. Many cars are also made with aluminum.

Clay

Next on the list is clay. Clay, a fine-grained sediment, comes in different colors. It's a very common mineral, and clay is produced in 40 states in the U.S. Bricks and earthenware are made from clay, and some dishes that you'll find at department stores are made out of clay, too. Some pizza places use ovens made of clay.

Copper

Copper is another mineral that has many practical uses. It's a natural, reddish-colored metal that's found the world over. The United States has copper mines in several states: Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Montana. China, Chile, Australia, and Peru also have copper mines. Pennies that were minted before 1982 contain copper, and nickels also contain 75 percent copper. Some kitchenware is made from copper: you've probably seen those shiny, reddish bowls around.

Gold, Lithium, and Mica

Another common mineral is gold, a yellowish precious metal. Gold is found naturally in mines in the United States, China, Russia, Australia, and Canada. This metal is used for jewelry and dentistry. Some people get gold fillings or caps instead of silver or aluminum. Electronics use gold as it is an excellent conductor of electricity. Headphones use gold-plated connectors to increase the quality of the sound connection.

Lithium

Lithium is an alkali metal. It is processed from brine in the United States, Australia, China, and Chile. You can find lithium in batteries for cell phones and other portable electronic products. It's also an ingredient for a mood-stabilizing medical drug.

Mica

Mica is a silicate mineral with natural layers. As of 2012, Russia and China are main producers of mica. If you live in an area with lots of natural sand, you'll probably see mica on the ground as you walk; it appears as bits of shiny material. Paints and mixed concrete use mica. You can tell when the concrete by the tiny, shiny specks.

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