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MINERALS NATURAL GRAPHITE Graphite is rather common, but fine crystals are rare. Most Graphite mining areas produce enormous quantities from a single or several large Graphite veins. Graphite has the same chemical composition as the mineral Diamond, but the atomic structure of Graphite and Diamond is entirely different. This causes almost opposite characteristics in their physical properties. Much care should be given to Graphite specimens, especially thin crystals, which are fragile. It is very hard to wash crystals as they peel off and get ruined. Graphite will also smudge on its surface, and can get worn out if it is moved around too much. Graphite also smudges the hand if handled, and will smudge a paper or cardboard box if it is stored in one. The "lead" in pencils is in fact composed of a mixture of Graphite and clay. There is no lead in pencils at all. Much of the commercially mined Graphite is used for pencil fillings. Its main function, however, is as a lubricant. It has many electrical uses, primarily because it is the only common nonmetal that is a good conductor of electricity.
MINERALS DOLOMITE is used as an ornamental stone, a concrete aggregate, a source of magnesium oxide and in the Pidgeon process for the production of magnesium. It is an important petroleum reservoir rock, and serves as the host rock for large strata-bound Mississippi Valley-Type (MVT) ore deposits of base metals such as lead, zinc, and copper. Where calcite limestone is uncommon or too costly, dolomite is sometimes used in its place as a flux for the smelting of iron and steel. Large quantities of processed dolomite are used in the production of float glass.
MINERALS NATURAL STEATITE, TALC Talc is known for being the softest mineral on earth. It is number 1 on the Mohs hardness scale, and can be easily scratched by a fingernail. Talc is not commonly seen in collections, as it is usually uninteresting and fairly common, although a few deeply colored and crystallized examples are known and well sought after. Also very popular are the Talc pseudomorphs. Talc forms some very interesting pseudomorphs after many different minerals, and certain localities are known for the specific minerals replaced by Talc. Talc is a very important industrial mineral. Talc is crushed into powder to form talcum powder, which is the main ingredient in many cosmetics as well as some baby powders. Talcum powder was also used as a filler to prevent slipping in latex gloves, although its use is being replaced with corn starch which is safer for inhalation. Talc is highly resistance to heat and electricity, and is therefore used in electronics and as an insulator. It is also a filler material for paints, rubber and insecticides.
MINERALS QUARTZ Quartz is a chemical compound consisting of one part silicon and two parts oxygen. It is silicon dioxide (SiO2). It is the most abundant mineral found at Earth's surface and its unique properties make it one of the most useful natural substances. Quartz is one of the most useful natural materials. Its usefulness can be linked to its physical and chemical properties. It has a hardness of seven on the Mohs Scale which makes it very durable. It is chemically inert in contact with most substances. It has electrical properties and heat resistance that make it valuable in electronic products. Its luster, color and diaphaneity make it useful as a gemstone and also in the making of glass.