• The Most Common Mineral on Earth


    September 13, 2017

    Did you know that the most abundant minerals in Earth’s crust are feldspars? That is a significant fact and so worth understanding more about them.

    Feldspar refers to a group of silicate minerals that contain different ratios of the elements potassium, sodium, and calcium in combination with silicon and oxygen. Feldspar is a main ingredient in granite (orange crystals in the polished sample, right) but it is common in all three main rock types. Depending on their composition, feldspars range in colour from pinkish orange to white, grey, green, blue and black. They are all light weight, very hard, shiny and break in two prominent cleavage directions.

    Some varieties of feldspar are semi-precious gems. One that is special to Canada is Labradorite, named for its occurrence in Labrador. It is bluish-black or greenish-black, and displays a beautiful iridescence (middle photo, right).

    Large deposits of gabbro containing this beautiful mineral are commonly called (but not properly named) black granite. It is quarried for decorative facing stone on buildings and countertops (bottom photo, right).

    Run of the mill feldspar is mined in many places all over the world, extracted from granites, pegmatites and certain sandstones. It is considered an industrial mineral that is used in the manufacture of glass, in ceramic glazes, paints, and a host of other familiar materials we use every day.

    Learn more:


    Industrial Mineral Association-North America

  • The Importance of Moly


    August 30, 2017

    Molybdenite – moly for short - is another essential mineral. Its key ingredient is the element molybdenum (Mo) that is combined with sulphur. Molybdenite commonly occurs with other metal sulphides, especially copper. A number of metal mines in BC produce moly concentrate.

    Moly is silvery grey, very soft, like graphite, and slippery. No surprise that it is useful as a lubricant, particularly in high temperature applications, such as big engines. Surprisingly, moly added to steel improves the alloy's strength, toughness, resistance to wear and corrosion, and hardness.

    Molybdenum is also essential to all life. Bolstering food production, molybdenum is used by bacteria in soil to turn nitrogen into a form that plants can use to promote healthy growth and better crop production. In humans and other animals, molybdenum is an essential trace element, part of specific enzymes involved in metabolism of protein, detoxifying cells of sulfite, and other processes.

    We get the molybdenum we need through our food. Good sources of molybdenum in our diets are leafy vegetables and legumes. The molybdenum in those foods and many others, comes from the breakdown of moly minerals, like molybdenite, in the soil.

    Learn more:

    International Molybdenum Association

    Molybdenum, the Chemical Element

    Mo - Periodic Table Video

    Molybdenum Enzymes 


  • A Mineral We Cannot Live Without


    August 16, 2017
    Sphalerite crystals on dolomite.

    If there was ever a mineral that we cannot live without it is sphalerite! Its key ingredient is the element zinc. Zinc, also known as the great protector, has many uses, the most familiar being as a coating of steel to prevent it from rusting. But zinc oxide is also an ingredient in sunscreen and diaper ointment, and zinc is alloyed with copper to make brass.

    Zinc is essential to all living things, including us. It is used to generate cells, to make our bones and organs grow, and to develop healthy functioning brains. We ingest zinc in our food – especially things like meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, and dairy. Whether we eat plants or animals, the zinc ultimately comes from minerals broken down in the soil.

    The World Health Organization estimates that 2 billion people do not have enough zinc in their diets because their diets are mostly plant-based and/or the soils in the region are zinc poor. Many organizations are partnering with zinc-producers, including Vancouver-based Teck Resources, to provide zinc therapies and supplements to those in need, to add zinc to fertilizers to improve poor soils, and to fortify food products, such flour and rice, to improve nutrition and health around the world.

    Zinc Oxide & You 

    International Zinc Association

    Zinc and Health