This glossary is intended to explain technical terms used in the commodity profiles. It will be extended as more profiles are added to the series.
Adit common mining term for a horizontal to sub–horizontal tunnel driven into a hillside to access an ore body.
Agglomerate a volcanic rock consisting of fragments of pyroclastic rocks more than 2 cm in size.
Alkaline a term applied to igneous rocks which are characterised by relatively high concentrations of sodium and potassium.
Alluvial deposits of sediment, usually sand and gravel, transported and deposited by a river.
Anode a plate of metal cast in a shape suitable for refining by the electrolytic process.
Archean period of geological time that is the older of the two main Precambrian divisions. Ends 2500 million years ago.
Argillaceous rocks a group of detrital, fine grained, sedimentary rocks subdivided into silt grade (particle size range 1/16 to 1/256 mm) and clay grade (particle size < 1/256 mm).
Arsenide a mineral formed by the combination of arsenic with another chemical element e.g. sperrylite, PtAs2.
Autocatalyst a cylinder made from ceramic or metal formed into a fine honeycomb and coated with a solution of chemicals and platinum–group metals. It is used to control the emissions of pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons, produced by motor vehicle exhaust systems. It is mounted in the exhaust system between the engine and the silencer and converts the noxious substances into harmless species.
Barite a white, yellow or colourless mineral, BaSO4. The principal ore of barium used in paints, drilling muds and as a filler for paper and textiles. Syn: baryte, barytes.
Basic describes an igneous rock with a relatively low silica content (between 45–52% SiO2). Basic rocks are relatively rich in iron, magnesium and calcium and thus include most mafic rocks.
Beneficiation the process of concentration of the valuable components of an ore or other mineral commodity. Commonly includes multiple stages such as crushing, grinding, washing, screening, flotation, roasting, etc.
Bituminous type of coal that contains a naturally occurring tar–like hydrocarbon mineral of indefinite composition. It ranges in consistency from a thick liquid to a brittle solid.
Boghead coal a type of coal comprising mostly algal material with fungal matter. See sapropelic.
Breccia a rock that has been mechanically, hydraulically or pneumatically broken into angular fragments and re–cemented. (brecciated, adj).
Calcination the process of roasting metallic concentrates to remove sulphur prior to smelting.
Calcite a very common rock forming mineral comprising calcium, carbon and oxygen (CaCO3).
Cambrian period of geological time from 545 to 495 million years ago. Marks the beginning of the Paleozic Era.
Cannel coal sapropelic coal type.
Carat term used in gemology to describe the weight of a semi–precious or precious stone (1 carat = 2.4 g). Derived from the ancient practice of using carob seeds as comparative weights for gems.
Carbonate a mineral characterised by a fundamental structure of CO3. Common examples include calcite, dolomite, magnesite and siderite.
Carbonatite a magmatic rock consisting of calcium carbonate, usually associated with nepheline–syenite systems.
Carboniferous period of geological time from 354 to 292 million years ago. So named because of the globally extensive occurrence of coal and limestone (CaCO3) that was formed during this time. In the UK the Lower Carboniferous is dominated by marine sediments. Upper Carboniferous rocks are almost entirely fresh–water and lacustrine sediments. The bulk of coal deposits in the UK occur in Upper Carboniferous strata.
Cathode a plate of metal produced by electrolytic refining. Subsequently melted and cast into bars, ingots, etc.
Cenozoic Era period of geological time extending from 65 million years ago to the present.
Chert sedimentary rock that is ultra–fine grained and composed almost entirely of silica. May be of organic or inorganic origin.
Coking coal trade category of coal that is used in the steel industry to de–oxidise iron ore in the blast furnace.
Core strategy: sets out the long-term spatial vision for the local planning authority area, the spatial objectives and strategic policies to deliver that vision. The core strategy will have the status of a development plan document.
Cretaceous period of geological time from 142 to 65.5 million years ago. Marks the end of the Mesozoic Era.
Dalradian late Precambrian metamorphosed marine sedimentary rocks found in the Grampian Highlands of Scotland and in Ireland.
Development plan: as set out in Section 38 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, an authority's development plan consists of the relevant regional spatial strategy (or the spatial development strategy in London) and the development plan documents contained within its local development framework.
Development plan documents: spatial planning documents that are subject to independent examination, and together with the relevant regional spatial strategy, will form the development plan for a local authority area for the purposes of the Act. They can include a core strategy, site specific allocations of land, and area action plans (where needed). Other development plan documents, including generic development control policies, can be produced. They will all be shown geographically on an adopted proposals map. Individual development plan documents or parts of a document can be reviewed independently from other development plan documents. Each authority must set out the programme for preparing its development plan documents in the local development scheme.
Devonian period of geological time from 417 to 354 million years ago.
Diamagnetic having a small negative magnetic susceptibility.
Dolomite a common rock forming mineral comprising calcium, carbon, magnesium and oxygen (CaMg(CO3)2.
Electrolytic the process of extracting metal based on passing an electric current through a solution containing dissolved metals, causing the metals to be deposited on the cathode.
Evaporite a sedimentary rock composed mainly of minerals produced by evaporation, normally from an enclosed body of seawater or a salt lake. Minerals formed in this way include gypsum, rock salt, and various nitrates and borates.
Exinite one of the three types of macerals that make coal.
Extrusive describes igneous rocks that have been formed by solidification of magma on or above the Earth's surface.
Ferromagnesian describes rock–forming silicate minerals which contain essential iron (Fe) and/or magnesium (Mg). The most common ferromagnesian minerals include olivine, pyroxene, amphibole and mica.
Fluorite a common mineral comprising, when pure, of 51.1% calcium and 48.9% fluorine.
Fluorspar the commercial name for the mineral fluorite.
Footwall the name given to the host rock of an ore deposit that is physically below the ore deposit.
Froth flotation a process by which some mineral particles are induced to become attached to bubbles and thereby to float, while others sink. Thus valuable minerals in an ore are separated from other components and concentrated.
Gabbro a coarse–grained mafic igneous rock consisting of plagioclase feldspar and pyroxene. Olivine may also be a major constituent, while hornblende, biotite, quartz, magnetite and ilmenite are common minor phases.
Gangue the undesirable or unwanted minerals in an ore deposit.
Goaf name given to the collapsed hanging wall resulting from longwall mining.
Hanging wall the name given to the host rock of an ore deposit that is physically above the ore deposit.
Highwall mining – mining method used to maximize the output of an open–pit coal mine. Remotely operated cutting or boring machines are used to penetrate the coal seam at the foot of the highwall (the final wall in an open–pit) to extract coal.
Holocene period of geological time from 11,500 years ago to the present day. The youngest epoch and series of the Cenozoic Era.
Humic type of coal that is predominantly composed of mixed plant debris. These typically contain the maceral minerals. See also sapropelic.
Hydrometallurgy the treatment of ores by wet processes, resulting in the dissolution of a particular component and its subsequent recovery by precipitation, adsorption or electrolysis.
Igneous one of the three main groups of rocks on Earth. They have a crystalline texture and appear to have consolidated from a silicate melt (magma).
Inertinite one of the three macerals that make coal.
Intrusion, n. a body of igneous rock emplaced into pre–existing rocks, either along some structural feature such as a fault or by deformation and rupturing of the invaded rocks.
Jurassic – period of geological time from 205.1–142 million years ago.
Kaolin group of pale coloured clay minerals. In the UK kaolin is an industrial mineral extracted from kaolinised granites in south–west England. It is used as a paper filler and coater, and for high grade ceramics and pottery (china clay).
Karat the proportion of pure gold in an alloy. Pure gold is 24 karat, with lesser quantities of gold represented by a fraction. For example, 18 karat gold is 18/24 or 75% gold, 25% non–gold alloying metal.
Leach a chemical process in which certain components of the ore are dissolved to extract and concentrate valuable minerals.
Lenticular lens shaped body of rock.
Limestone any sedimentary rock consisting mostly of carbonates (calcite and/or dolomite).
Local development document: the collective term in the Act for development plan documents, supplementary planning documents and the statement of community involvement.
Local development framework: the name for the portfolio of local development documents and related documents. It consists of development plan documents, supplementary planning documents, a statement of community involvement, the local development scheme and annual monitoring reports. It may also include local development orders and simplified planning zone schemes. Together all these documents will provide the framework for delivering the spatial planning strategy for a local authority area.
Local development scheme: sets out the programme for preparing local development documents. All authorities must submit a scheme to the Secretary of State for approval within six months of commencement of the Act.
Lode mining term for a mineralized vein (used irrespective of whether the vein can be economically extracted).
Longwall mining type of mining that is typically found in underground coal mines. The coal seam is mechanically extracted and the hanging wall is allowed to collapse, under controlled conditions, to fill in the void. The collapsed hanging wall material is known as the goaf.
Macerals in coal, the organic equivalent of minerals. These are typically vitrinite, exinite and inertinite.
Mafic composed of one or more ferromagnesian (iron–magnesium), dark–coloured minerals, such as olivine and pyroxene, in combination with quartz, feldspar or feldspathoid minerals.
Magnetic susceptibility a measure of the degree to which a rock is attracted to a magnet. A dimensionless constant which determines the degree to which a body is magnetised. Used in the interpretation of geophysical magnetic surveys.
Marl a calcareous mudstone.
Matte a product of a smelter that is composed of a metal, or metals, combined with sulphur. Requires further treatment to remove the sulphur.
Mesozoic Era period of geological time from 250 to 65.5 million years ago. Subdivided into the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
Miocene period of geological time from 23.8 to 5.32 million years ago.
Mississippi Valley type, (MVT) a type of stratabound deposit of lead and/or zinc in carbonate rocks, as occurring in the Mississippi valley, USA.
Mudstone fine grained sedimentary rocks that are similar to shales in their non–plasticity, cohesion and low water content but lack fissility.
Natural coke coal that has been carbonized by contact with an igneous intrusion or natural combustion.
Natural gas hydrocarbons that occur as a gas or vapour. Usually methane, but propane may be present.
Neogene part of the Cenozoic Era, comprising the Miocene and Pliocene epochs from 23.8 to 1.81 million years ago.
Oligocene period of geological time from 28.5 to 23.8 million years ago.
Ophiolite a distinctive assemblage of mafic and ultramafic igneous rocks which occur in sequence from a basal ultramafic complex upwards to a gabbroic complex, a mafic sheeted–dyke complex and an uppermost mafic volcanic complex. Commonly associated with deep–water sediments such as shales and cherts. Generally interpreted to be derived from oceanic crust and upper mantle. Ophiolites may contain important deposits of chromite, copper and the platinum–group elements (PGE).
Ordovician period of geological time from 495 to 440 million years ago.
Paleogene part of the Cenozoic Era comprising the Paleocene, Eocene and Oligocene epochs, from 65.5 to 23.8 million years ago.
Paleozoic Era period of geological time from 545 to 245 million years ago. Subdivided into the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous and Permian Periods.
Pegmatite a very coarse–grained igneous rock characterized by crystals > 3 cm in length.
Peridotite a class of ultramafic rocks consisting of predominantly olivine, with or without other ferromagnesian (Fe–Mg) minerals.
Permian period of geological time from 280 to 255 million years ago, marks the end of the Paleozoic Era. Globally important source of coal.
Pliocene period of geological time from 5.3 to 1.81 million years ago.
Porphyry deposit a mineral deposit comprising veinlets and disseminated grains of ore minerals, commonly hosted by an igneous rock, known as a porphyry, in which relatively large conspicuous crystals (phenocrysts) are set in a fine–grained groundmass. Porphyry deposits are important sources of copper, molybdenum and gold.
Precambrian extensive period of geological time used literally as ‘before the Cambrian’. Contains around 90% of all geological time and ends approximately 545 million years ago.
Proterozoic a period of geological time that is the uppermost of the two main Precambrian divisions. Runs from 2500 to 545 million years ago.
Pyroclastic fragmental volcanic material that has been blown into the atmosphere by an explosive eruption.
Pyrometallurgical the treatment of ores by processes involving heating.
Quarrying (mining) the extraction of rock from an open pit site.
Quaternary the uppermost part of the Cenozoic Era from 1.81 million years ago to present day.
Refractory a general term for a material that resists chemical or physical change.
Refractory ore ore from which it is difficult to extract the valuable constituents. May require special treatments, such as pressure leaching, to recover the valuable minerals.
Regional spatial strategy: sets out the region's policies in relation to the development and use of land and forms part of the development plan. Planning Policy Statement 11 ‘Regional Spatial Strategies' together with the document ‘Planning Policy Statement 11: Regional Planning Strategies (2004), technical amendments’ provide detailed guidance on the function and preparation of regional spatial strategies. Guidance will change if the ‘Draft Policy Statement on Regional Strategies’ is approved as scheduled in early 2010.
Residual material left behind in situ after chemical weathering of a rock has removed completely removed some components. Laterite and bauxite are examples of residual deposits.
Room and Pillar mining common mining method most suitable for thick, flat lying, laterally homogeneous, ore bodies. Pillars of ore are left behind after mining to support the hanging wall. Also called Pillar and Stall mining.
Sapropelic type of coal that is composed mostly of algae and plant spores.
Sedimentary exhalative (Sedex) an ore deposit formed from hydrothermal fluids discharged onto the sea–floor and hosted by sedimentary rocks such as black shale, siltstone and chert. Deposits comprise sheets or lenses of fine–grained laminated sulphides. Sedex deposits are important sources of zinc, lead and silver.
Sedimentary rocks rocks formed from material derived from other rocks by weathering. Deposited by water, wind or ice.
Shale a fine–grained, indurated, sedimentary rock of detrital origin formed by the consolidation of clay, silt or mud. Characterised by finely stratified structure and/or fissility approximately parallel to bedding. Composed mainly of clay minerals and detrital quartz.
Silurian period of geological time from 440 to 417 million years ago.
Sinter roasting of fine–grained ore to produce larger particles for further treatment.
Skarn metamorphic rocks formed around an igneous intrusion where it comes into contact with limestone or dolomite. Many skarns contain iron ore and various sulphide minerals and are important sources of metals including tin, tungsten, copper, lead, zinc, iron, gold, silver and molybdenum.
Steam coal trade category of bituminous coal that is used for burning in power stations and other industrial/domestic uses.
Stope mining term for the underground void left after ore extraction has taken place.
Stratabound an ore deposit that is confined to a single stratigraphical bed or horizon but which does not constitute the entire bed.
Stratiform an ore deposit that occurs as a specific stratigraphic (i.e. sedimentary) bed.
Sulphide a mineral formed by the combination of sulphur with another chemical element. Most economic deposits of non–ferrous metals occur as sulphide minerals e.g. galena, PbS; sphalerite, ZnS; chalcopyrite, CuFeS2.
Supplementary planning documents: provide supplementary information in respect of the policies in development plan documents. They do not form part of the development plan and are not subject to independent examination.
Telluride a mineral formed by the combination of tellurium with another chemical element e.g. calaverite, AuTe2.
Triassic period of geological time from 250 to 205.1 million years ago. Marks the beginning of the Mesozoic Era.
Ultrabasic describes an igneous rock containing less than 45% silica (SiO2), including most ultramafic rocks.
Ultramafic composed chiefly of ferromagnesian (Fe–Mg) minerals, such as olivine and pyroxene.
Vein A tabular or sheet–like assemblage of minerals that has been intruded into a joint or fissure in rocks.
Vitrinite one of the main groups of macerals that make coal.
Volcanogenic massive sulphide, VMS an ore deposit typically comprising a lens of massive sulphide minerals (>60% sulphide) formed by volcanic processes normally on the sea–floor. VMS deposits are important sources of copper, lead and zinc.
Wall rock an economic geology term used to describe the rock adjacent to an accumulation of ore minerals (veins, layers, disseminations, etc).
Workings the current or past underground or surface openings and tunnels of a mine. More specifically, the area where the ore has been extracted.
Xenolith a discrete and recognizable fragment of country rock in an igneous intrusion.
Yellow copper ore a historically common, but now rare, mining term for the mineral chalcopyrite.
Zoning in economic geology, the spatial distribution of distinct mineral assemblages or chemical elements associated with an ore–forming process.