Before talking about the uses of minerals, we should know what minerals are. Minerals are the natural materials in which metals occur on the earth. An ore is a mineral from which the metal can be mined easily and economically.
It is obvious that all the ores are minerals, but not all the minerals are ores because metal cannot be extracted conveniently and economically from each mineral.
Minerals are homogeneous solids made up of only one component. The synthetic equivalents of minerals, such as emeralds, diamonds, and other practical gemstones that mimic their natural counterparts, are also created in laboratories. The internal atomic structure of minerals is highly ordered and has a regular geometric shape. Because of this characteristic, minerals fall within the category of crystalline solids.
A mineral's elemental composition is crucial because it influences its characteristics. The geometry of the component atoms and ions and the nature of the electrical forces that bind them influence such characteristics. Thus, internal structure, chemistry, and link types must be addressed for a comprehensive knowledge of minerals.
The formula for any element depends on a fact that whether it exists in native form or combined form. If the element exists in native or uncombined form, their formulas are the same as their chemical symbols. For example, silver (Ag) and gold (Au).
However, most of the minerals exist in the combined form, which consists of more than one element. The relative proportions of the constituent elements are shown by their formulae, which are derived from quantitative chemical studies. For example, on observing the formula ZnS (Zincblende), we can say that the atoms of 'Zn' and 'S' atoms exist in a 1 to 1 ratio.
When we talk about any mineral's physical and chemical properties, we must know that most of it depends on the types and strength of the bonds between the atoms, ions, or molecules of which the mineral is made.
For example, the Hardness and melting point of any mineral is directly proportional to the strength of the bond between its constituents, whereas the thermal expansion coefficient decreases with an increase in the strength of the bonds.
Take MgO and NaCl, for example, both have identical structures, but the melting point of MgO is greater than that of NaCl because atoms of constituents of the MgO are held together by strong forces as compared to that of NaCl. Therefore, it requires more heat to be melted.
In the present time, whatever thing we are using, or whatever we are eating, those are mostly made of minerals.