What is the difference between a mineral and an ore?

Expert Answers
sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A mineral is a mineral if it fits the following five criteria:

  1. naturally occurring (not man made)
  2. inorganic (not living, which means biomass can not ever be a mineral)
  3. Solid (no liquids, no gasses)
  4. crystal structure (regular repeating molecular structure/pattern)
  5. definite chemical formula (i.e. Halite is always sodium and chlorine; quartz is always silicon and oxygen)

A mineral must have all four characteristics, or it is not a mineral.  Ore, is a mineral deposit that is large enough to make it economically worthwhile to extract.  If you find a chunk of quartz in your backyard, that's a mineral.  But a square mile of quartz could be considered quartz ore.  

Another way to think about it is to say that ore is always made of minerals, but not all minerals can be called ore.  

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