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MINERALS ZINC ORES AND CONCENTRATES Zinc is the 23rd most abundant element in the earth's crust. Sphalerite, zinc sulfide, is and has been the principal ore mineral in the world. Zinc is necessary to modern living, and, in tonnage produced, stands fourth among all metals in world production - being exceeded only by iron, aluminum, and copper. Zinc uses range from metal products to rubber and medicines. About three-fourths of zinc used is consumed as metal, mainly as a coating to protect iron and steel from corrosion (galvanized metal), as alloying metal to make bronze and brass, as zinc-based die casting alloy, and as rolled zinc. The remaining one-fourth is consumed as zinc compounds mainly by the rubber, chemical, paint, and agricultural industries. Zinc is also a necessary element for proper growth and development of humans, animals, and plants; it is the second most common trace metal, after iron, naturally found in the human body. SPHALERITE Sphalerite ((Zn,Fe)S) is a mineral that is the chief ore of zinc. It consists largely of zinc sulfide in crystalline form but almost always contains variable iron. When iron content is high it is an opaque black variety, marmatite. It is usually found in association with galena, pyrite, and other sulfides along with calcite, dolomite, and fluorite. Miners have also been known to refer to sphalerite as zinc blende and black-jack.