Mineral resources are all natural mineral matters of organic and inorganic origin which can be economically valorized with available technologies.
According to industrial usage mineral resources are classified into:
- Combustible or energetic
- Non metallic and
- Hydro metallic
Combustible or energetic mineral resources are: coal, oil, natural gas and oil shale. Besides for creating energy these materials are used as resources for production of various organic products.
Metallic mineral resources are carriers of metals. Depending on characteristics of metals extracted from them, they can be classified into: ores of ferrous metals (Fe, Ti, Cr, Mn), ores of non-ferrous metals (Cu, Pb, Zn, Sb, Ni), ores of light metals (Al, Li, Be, Mg), ores of precious metals (Au, Ag, Pt, Os, Ir), ores of radioactive metals (U, Ra, Th), ores of scattered elements (Sc, Ga, Rb, Ge, Cd etc.) and ores of rare elements (La, Ce, Pr, Nd etc.).
Non metallic mineral resources are ores and rocks that are used as resources for chemical industry, artificial fertilizer industry, ceramic and brick industry, industry of fireproof materials, for production of abrasives, concrete, as decorative and construction rock crushed, broken, cut, as solvents, fillers, pigments, etc.
Hydro metallic resources are drinkable, spas, mineral and technical waters.
Components that constitute mineral resources are classified into: basic useful components, accompanying useful components, gangue and harmful components and tinges.
Basic useful components are minerals that are carriers of chemical elements that are the reason the mineral war material is exploited and valorized. The basic mineral component in copper ores is copper minerals, iron ore minerals of iron, etc. Usually ores from one deposit have only one basic useful component, although it is not uncommon that there can be two or three basic useful components. Mostly those are minerals of lead and zinc, that is, minerals of copper, lead and zinc.
The accompanying useful components appear in paragenesis with the basic ones. Their separation would not be economically justified if there were no basic useful component. The usual accompanying useful components and additives in non-ferrous metal ores are gold, silver, platinum, etc. Their extraction makes exploitation more profitable (their presence increases the price of the ore). When the participation of the accompanying useful minerals and non-metal metals is more significant, then it is discussed about the accompanying useful components, and when the content is small about tinges.
Gangue components are minerals of the basic rock mass in which mineralization was deposited. Unprocessed components pass the entire process of exploitation and mineral processing. A part of the useless components are subjected to metallurgical processing with useful components, and the largest part is distinguished as tailings. In modern practice in the mineral industry, development without waste technologies is preferred, in which all the ingredients are classified into separate products that can be placed on the market.
Harmful components and tinges are followed by the previous ones and their presence is harmful as it reduces the scope of application of useful components or completely disables their use. A characteristic example is arsenic and mercury that are desirable only as a basic useful component, and as an accompanying component are always harmful and their grade is always strictly limited.
The quality of mineral resources is measured by: the grade of useful component or components, the grade of the accompanying useful components and tinges, the chemical and mineralogical form of appearance of useful components, the participation of harmful components and tinges. For most mineral resources, the content is expressed in percentages, unit weight of the useful component per unit weight of the mineral resource (g/t) or in parts per million (ppm). The quality of coal is expressed through: the heating value (kJ/kg), the content of ash (%) and the participation of pollutants, in the first row of sulfur and nitrogen oxides