We get the minerals so you can be comfortable
Minerals have provided some of the oldest building materials known to man, many of which are still in use today. As well as providing shelter to protect us from the elements, minerals also make our lives more comfortable.
Minerals help us by contributing to the daily items we use, including furniture and decorative materials making our living environment more pleasant. In helping to meet our basic human needs, minerals have enabled people to create family and social networks. Having buildings to meet and gather in means that our lives have been enriched through forging meaningful relationships with other people.
Used in the construction industry, Calcite is the principal constituent of chalk, limestone and marble, which have been used as blocks and mortar for centuries. It is still used in cement and concrete ensuring buildings are stable and solid. It’s also used in paints and as an abrasive, helping to keep our homes clean.
Most notably used as a modern construction material, gypsum is perhaps best known as the basis for the production of plasterboard to create internal walls. However, its use as a building material can be traced back to ancient Egypt.
Similarly, clays have a long tradition of being used to produce bricks, cement and mortar as well as all sorts of earthenware and ceramics. Kaolin (or China Clay) is particularly valued for its whiteness and fine particle size for use in ceramics. From tableware to the bathroom sink, clays help to make our homes more convenient.
The use of silica (or silicon) for glass production goes beyond windows to include special glass fibres used in fibreglass and glass wool for insulation as well as the optical fibres required for high speed communication services, providing our homes with broadband and satellite TV services.
Glass and ceramics require feldspar as part of the production process. The chemical composition of feldspar helps reduce the melting point of glass, allowing viscosity to be better controlled and in ceramics allows the materials to better work together, improving appearance, strength and durability of the material.
Other minerals we encounter in our homes include Manganese, essential to steel production and a key component of low-cost stainless steel. It is also used as an alloy with aluminium to resist corrosion. This makes manganese common in the home through domestic appliances (such as washing machines), kitchen utensils and containers for food and drink.
Antimony helps keep us safe from fire, it’s used to make a flame retardant in fabrics and plastics, particularly children’s clothes and toys. One of its more unusual applications is to help remove microscopic bubbles in glass used for TV screens.
Minerals and the Economy
An example: Calcite
We interact with minerals all the time and it is thanks to minerals that we are able to live our lives comfortable. Minerals are so important to society and helped us to get to where we are today.
If you want to learn more about working with minerals then download our pamphlet that we produce for our Minerals Week, below. We have even more facts on more minerals in the pamphlet.
Fascinated by all the ways we use minerals in our lives and want to find out how you can be involved. We are always on the look out for new talent to support, recognise and train on their quarrying journey. Sound like something you would be interested in, visit our quarrying faces to have an insight into the lives of the people who get you your minerals.