The 10 Commonly Mined Minerals and Their Uses
Some common minerals have interesting uses that may not be widely known. With this article we bring you our insight into the various ways some of Africa’s most commonly mined minerals are used in everyday life.
Primarily mined in South Africa within Africa.
Uses: Quartz is able to rotate the plane of polarization of light and is also transparent in ultraviolet light, making it perfect for use in heat-ray lamps, as well as prism and spectrographic lenses. It is also used in the manufacturing of glass, paints, abrasives, refractory materials and precision instruments.
Primarily mined in Africa, along with the West Indies, South America and Australia.
Uses: Bauxite is a rock mineral composed of hydrated aluminum oxides. It is most commonly converted to aluminum, which is the second most used metal globally after steel. Aluminum is primarily used in the manufacturing of automobiles, but is also used in building construction and packaging.
Cobalt is primarily mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo within Africa.
Uses: It is primarily used in super alloys that are used to manufacture:
- aircraft gas turbine engines
- cemented carbides for cutting tools
- wear-resistant applications
- chemicals such as paint dryers, catalysts and magnetic coatings
- permanent magnets
Tin, tantalum and tungsten
Primarily mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo within Africa.
Uses: These three minerals are used in the manufacturing of computers, both laptops and desktops, and mobile phones. These minerals generate $185 million a year from the Congolese mines.
Also known as fluorite, this mineral is primarily mined in South Africa.
Uses: This mineral is used in a variety of ways, including:
- In production of hydrofluoric acid, which is used in the pottery, ceramics, optical, electroplating and plastics industries
- In the metallurgical treatment of bauxite
- As a flux in open hearth steel furnaces and in metal smelting
- In carbon electrodes
- Emery wheels
- Electric arc welders
- In paint pigment
- A key ingredient in the processing of aluminum and uranium
Mined primarily in South Africa and Ghana within Africa.
Uses: One of the more widely known minerals, gold is popular for use in:
- Jewelry and arts
- Dentistry and medicine
- Medallions and coins
- Stores as a measure of value
- Scientific and electronic instruments
- The electroplating industry as an electrolyte.
Platinum Group Metals (PGM)
Primarily mined in South Africa within Africa, and includes platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, osmium and ruthenium.
Uses: Platinum is used principally in:
- catalysts for the control of automobile and industrial plant emissions
- catalysts to produce acids
- organic chemicals
PGMs are used in:
- bushings for making glass fibers used in
- fiber-reinforced plastic and other advanced materials
- electrical contacts
- conductive and resistive films used in electronic circuits
- dental alloys used for making crowns and bridges
Mined in Africa, as well as in South America and Asia.
Uses: Silver is primarily used in the making of:
- electrical and electronic devices
- industrial applications
- catalytic converter
- cell phone covers
- bandages for wound care
Africa is rich in natural resources, being the mining site for many of the world’s most popular minerals. The above listed uses of some of the more common minerals prove that Africa has a lot to offer the global market, explaining why Africa’s economic growth can remain stable in times of global instability.