Your automobile came from the mines!

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Minerals and how they are used

This information was compiled to accompany an exhibit sponsored by The Smithsonian Institution, General Motors and the Michigan Mineralogical Society. The exhibit includes a Chevrolet Lumina Minivan cut away and painted to show the places where the various minerals are used, and mineral specimens. The exhibit was featured at the gemshow last held last May in Waterloo The exhibit will be on display soon at the Cranbrook Institute, in the Bloomfield Hills section of Detroit. The Cranbrook Institution has an excellent earth sciences exhibit, including a world-class mineral collection.

Aluminum: Bauxite - hydrous aluminum oxide.
Separated by digestion, precipitation and electrolysis.
Automotive use: Air conditioner parts, transmission, trim, radiators, engine and moulds for fabricating other metal and plastic parts. Alloyed with silicon and copper cast, rolled, stamped and drawn.

Antimony: Stibnite - antimony sulphide.
Separated by smelting and refining.
Automotive use: Composite body panels, dash boards andother items. Mixed into heat resistant and flame retardant resins used to make plastic parts and alloyed with lead in solder.

Asbestos: Chrysotile - calcium magnesium aluminum silicate.
Separated by hand sorting and fiberizing.
Automotive use: Friction surfaces on breaks and clutch.

Barium: Barite - barium sulphate.
Separated by selective mining and gravity concentration.
Automotive use: Surface and primer paints; air bubble control agent in making glass. Added as a powder to paint formubtions and to the melt during glass making.

Bentonite: Bentonite clay - sodium- calcium aluminum magnesium hydrous silicate.
Separated by washing, drying and grinding.
Automotive use: Coatings and adhesives. Mixed with other materials to make resins, adhesives, sealants and pigments for paints.

Borates: (Borax); Kemite and Colmanite - hydrous sodium and calcium borates.
Separated by magnetic removal of impurities, dissolution and recrystallization
Automotive use: Component of glass manufacture. Used as a flux to melt minerals and to make glass.

Beryllium: Beryl and Bertrandite - beryllium silicates
Separated by selective mining, hand sorting, fusion, leaching, and precipitation
Automotive use: Electrical contacts and on-board computers Alloyed with copper and used as heat-conducting electrical insulators for high-power electronic components in computer and audio systems.

Brucite: Brucite - Magnesium hydroxide
Separated by selective mining, washing, and grinding
Automotive use: Smoke and fire retardant in plastics. Compounded with other minerals, resins, and pigments to make electrical insulation and other plastic components.

Calcium carbonate: Calcite (Limestone and marble) - Calcium carbonate
Separated by selective mining, grinding, and sizing
Automotive use: Iron, paints, plastics, carpet, and glass. Calcium carbonate is the most common filler and extender mineral. It is compounded with other minerals, resins, and pigments to make paints, adhesives, sealants, and carpet backing. It is added to glass melt to produce soda-lime glass. It is used as a flux in smelting iron and copper.

Chromium: Chromite - Iron-chromium oxide
Separated by smelting and electrolysis
Automotive use: Exposed trim parts and steel for frame, suspension components, engine parts, and body reinforcement members. Alloyed with iron and molybdenum to make high-strength steels.

Copper: Chalcopyrite, Chalcocite, Azurite, Malachite, Chrysocolla, (and other sulfides and oxides of copper) - Copper-iron sulfide, copper sulfide, copper carbonates, copper silicate compounds.
Separated by smelting or leaching, and electrolysis.
Automotive use: Electrical wiring, motor windings, radiators, bushings, instruments, and electronic parts. Drawn into electrical wire, alloyed with tin and zinc to make brass castings.

Diatomaceous earth: Diatomite or Diatomaceous earth - Amorphous silica skeletons of diatoms.
Separated by selective mining, drying, air classification, and calcining.
Automotive use: Under-coat sound and thermal insulation, abrasives. Compounded with other minerals, resins, and pigments to make undercoating and in metal processing to remove machining burrs.

Dolomite: Dolomite, (dolomitic limestone) - Calcium-magnesium carbonate.
Separated by selective mining, crushing, and sizing.
Automotive use: Glass, dashboard, body panels. Compounded with other minerals, resins, and pigments to make composite body panels and added to glass melt to make windows.

Feldspar: Orthoclase and Plagioclase - Sodium-calcium-magnesium aluminum silicates.
Separated by selective mining, grinding, flotation, and fine grinding.
Automotive use: Paint, composite body panels, spark plugs, sensors, radio, computer, and windows. Compounded with other minerals, resins, and pigments to make body panels and paints. Fused with other minerals including clays to make ceramic parts, and a component in manufacturing glass.

Fluorspar: Fluorite - Calcium fluoride.
Separated by selective mining, flotation, and conversion to fluorine chemicals.
Automotive use: Engine, wheels, air conditioner, and ceramic parts. Processed to make "ozone layer friendly" refrigerants. Used in refining and casting iron and steel. Used as a flux in ceramics.

Garnet: Garnet (from placer sands) - Silicates of calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, aluminum, chromium, and vanadium.
Separated by placer gravity recovery, screening, specialized crushing.
Automotive use: Manufacturing process Used in metal part-making to remove burrs and polish surfaces.

Gold: Gold ore and native placer gold - Native gold naturally alloyed with silver and as minute amounts contained in copper, lead, silver, zinc ores.
Separated by gravity separation, cyanidation, flotation, smelting, and electrolysis.
Automotive use: Electronic components and special wiring connectors for "air bags." Used pure and plated onto the surface of other metals.

Gypsum: Gypsum - Hydrous calcium sulfate.
Separated by selective mining and grinding.
Automotive use: Carpets, compounded with other minerals and resins to make fire retardant backing on carpets.

Iron: Hematite - Iron oxide.
Separated by smelting, open hearth, blast furnace, basic oxygen furnace.
Automotive use: Castings for engines, pumps, axles, brakes, steel parts for gears, shafts, and sheet metal. Alloyed with chromium, nickel, and molybdenum and rolled. Stamped, forged, and cast into many varied parts.

Kaolin: Kaolinite - Hydrous aluminum silicate.
Separated by washing and drying, fine grinding, classification, and calcining.
Automotive use: Paint, tires, plastics, and ceramics. Compounded with other minerals, resins, and pigments to make interior door panels, upholstery, dashboards, and composite body panels. Combined with natural and synthetic rubber to make tires and coolant, vacuum, and fuel hoses.

Lead: Galena and as a by-products from mixed copper-lead ores - Lead sulfide.
Separated by flotation, roasting, sintering, smelting, and electrolysis.
Automotive use: Batteries, solder, lubricants, wheel weights, and lock pendulums for seat belts. Alloyed with tin, zinc, and antimony to make solders, alloyed with antimony to make battery plates.

Magnesite: Dolomite and Magnesite - Magnesium carbonate.
Separated by selective mining and calcining.
Automotive use: Refractory high temperature insulators in exhaust system and catalytic convertors. Cast and molded into high temperature insulators.

Manganese: Pyrolusite, Manganite, and wad - Oxides and hydrous oxides of manganese.
Separated by flotation and sintering.
Automotive use: Castings for engines, pumps, axles, brakes, steel parts for gears, shafts, and sheet metal. Alloyed with iron.

Mercury: Cinnabar - Mercury sulfide.
Separated by electrolysis, thermal reduction.
Automotive use: Batteries, electronics, and manufacturing process. Alloyed with silver and as mercury compounds.

Mica: Mica (Pegmatite and mica schist deposits) - Sheet structured potassium-aluminum silicates.
Separated by selective mining, hand sorting or flotation, and wet or dry grinding depending on use.
Automotive use: "Metallic" paints, interior trim, dash board, steering wheel, tires, sound proofing, weather stripping, and other plastics and rubber parts. Compounded with other minerals, resins, and pigments to make paints, interior door panels, trim parts, dash boards, and composite body panels. Combined with natural and synthetic rubber to make tires and coolant, vacuum, and fuel hoses.

Mineral Pigments: Hematite, carbon black, titanium dioxide, others - Oxides and elements.
Separation method varies from being manufactured from minerals while others are naturally occurring. They all are finely ground before use.
Automotive use: Included in all nonmetal parts and as coatings and paint on metal parts. Compounded with other minerals, resins, and pigments to make interior paint, coatings, door panels, upholstery, dash boards, and composite body panels. Combined with natural and synthetic rubber to make tires and coolant, vacuum, and fuel hoses.

Molybdenum: Molybdenite - Molybdenum sulfide.
Separated by Flotation, roasting, sintering.
Automotive use: Special steels and lubricants. Alloyed with steels, added to greases.

Nickel: Pentlandite - Ferrous nickel sulfide.
Separated by roasting, smelting, leaching, electrolysis, and gas reduction.
Automotive use: Steel shafts, electric parts, magnets, and plating. Alloyed with iron and copper.

Perlite: Perlite - Amorphous silica with contained water.
Separated by crushing and popping at high temperatures to produce a light weight powder.
Automotive use: Caulking, adhesives, and sealants. Compounded with other minerals, resins, and pigments to make caulks, adhesives, and sealants.

Petroleum derivatives: Coal, oil sands, oil shale, tar sands - Hydrocarbons in the form of sedimentary rocks or liquid-saturated sedimentary rocks.
Separated by crushing, grinding, roasting, gassifying, cracking, distillation, refining, chlorination, hydrogenation, and polymerization.
Automotive use: Plastic parts, rubber parts such as seats, cushions, dashboard, carpet fibers, vacuum, fuel, hydraulic, and air hoses, tires, body panels; and indicator lenses Compounded with other minerals, resins, and pigments to make interior paint, coatings, door panels, upholstery, dash boards, and composite body panels. Combined with natural and synthetic rubber to make tires and coolant, vacuum, and fuel hoses.

Platinum and platinum group metals: Palladium, Rhodium, Ruthenium, Osmium, and Iridium (Ores of nickel, gold, and platinum group metals) - Native elements disseminated in ores of other metals.
Separated by chemical and pyrometallurgical processes and recovery from refinery slimes produced from other metals.
Automotive use: Ignition parts, catalytic convertor, and electronic components. Used as pure metals plated onto spark plug electrodes, ceramic meshes, conductors and semiconductors.

Pyrophylite: Pyrophylite - A platy aluminum silicate.
Separated by selective mining, grinding, and sizing.
Automotive use: Interior trim, dashboard, steering wheel, tires, sound proofing, weather stripping, and other plastics and rubber parts. Compounded with other minerals, resins, and pigments to make interior door panels, trim parts, dashboards, and composite body panels. Combined with natural and synthetic rubber to make tires and coolant, vacuum, and fuel hoses.

Salt: Halite - Sodium chloride.
Separated by mining of pure deposits or solar evaporation from brines.
Automotive use: Intake manifold, transmission housing and other cast aluminum parts, plastic parts. As a flux in recycling aluminum and in preventing oxidation during casting of aluminum parts, as feed stocks for chlorine manufactured to produce resins to make paints, interior door panels, trim parts, dashboards, and composite body panels.

Silica: Quartz - Silicon dioxide.
Separated by selective mining, crushing, screening, fine grinding, and size separation.
Automotive use: Glass, electronic parts, paints, plastics, composites, engine, manifolds, rubber parts, lightbulbs, and more Compounded with other minerals, resins, and pigments to make paints, interior doorpanels, trim parts, dash boards, and composite body panels. Combined with natural and synthetic rubber to make tires and coolant, vacuum, and fuel hoses. It is the primary constituent of glass. Used as a flux to smelt iron and copper. Used in molds for cast parts. Used to make sodium silicate "water glass" for adhesives and sealants.

Silver: Argentite and silver minerals disseminated in ores of other metals, especially lead and copper - Silver sulfide.
Separated by smelting and electrolysis.
Automotive use: Sound system, on board computers, mirrors, and electrical connectors. Used as pure silver for plating and as part of electronic components.

Sodium carbonate: Trona - Sodium carbonate.
Separated by selective mining, size reduction, and cleaning.
Automotive use: Glass, adhesives, and sealants. Added to glass-making minerals to reduce the melting temperature. Used to make sodium silicate 'waterfalls' for adhesives and sealants.

Talc: Talc - Magnesium silicate.
Separated by selective mining crushing, delamination, and particle size separation.
Automotive use: Spark plugs, high temperature ceramic paints, plastics, composites, rubber parts, tires, light bulb bases, and more. Compounded with other minerals, resins, and pigments to make paints, interior doorpanels, trim parts, dashboards, and composite bodypanels. Combined with clays, feldspar, silica, and fluorspar to make ceramic parts. Compounded with natural and synthetic rubber to make tires, vacuum, and fuel hoses.

Tin: Cassiterite - Tin oxide.
Separated by roasting, smelting, and electrolysis.
Automotive use: Battery, solder, plating, lubricants, bushings, tires, glass, and electronics Alloyed with zinc, lead, antimony, then used to float glass, and to produce tire compounds.

Titanium dioxide: Rutile and Ilmenite - Titanium dioxide, iron-titanium oxide.
Separated by gravity recovery from placer deposits and chemical conversion to white titanium dioxide.
Automotive use: Titanium dioxide is the white pigment in every white coloured object in the automobile and the base colour pigment in every light coloured object. It is also the ultraviolet light ray blocker that prevents solar deterioration of all nonmetal parts exposed to sunlight. Compounded with other minerals, resins, and pigments to make paints, interior doorpanels, trimparts, dashboards, and composite body panels. Compounded with natural and synthetic rubber to make tires, coolant, vacuum, and fuel hoses.

Tungsten: Wolframite and Scheelite - Iron tungstate, calcium tungstate.
Separated by flotation, caustic, digestion, and chemical combination with heat.
Automotive use: Lamp filaments, radio, computer, and machined metal parts. Used as a pure tungsten metal for lamps, plated onto other materials for electronic components, and used in cutting tools to make machined parts.

Wollastonite: Wollastonite - Calcium silicate.
Separated by selective mining, crushing, grinding, and particle size separation
Automotive use: Spark plugs, high temperature ceramic paints, plastics, composites, and rubber parts Compounded with other minerals, resins, and pigments to make paints, interior doorpanels, trim parts, dashboards, and composite body panels. Combined with days, feldspar, silica, and fluorspar to make spark plugs and other ceramic components

Zeolites: Zeolite deposits - A group of silicate minerals.
Separated by selective mining, chemical and thermal preparation.
Automotive use: Gasoline, used in catalytic refining of petroleum and filtering constituents of gasolines.

Zinc: Sphalerite - Zinc sulfide.
Separated by flotation, roasting, electrolysis, and gas reduction.
Automotive use: Solder, plating, battery, electronic components, tires, and rust proofing Used as a pure metal for galvanizing, alloyed with copper, tin and aluminum. As a white oxide pigment for compounding with other minerals, resins, and pigments to make paints. Compounded with natural and synthetic rubber to make tires coolant, vacuum, and fuel hoses.

Zircon: Zircon - A silicate of zirconium.
Separated by gravity separation from placer deposits.
Automotive use: Ceramics and cast metal parts. Used as a constituent of specialty ceramics, and for molds for casting metal parts.

Ken A. Phillips
(Chief Engineer, Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources.)