Metals are found as minerals (or ‘ores’) in the ground. A few metals, such as copper, gold, silver and platinum, are found as pure metals. But most metals are found combined or joined with other substances scattered thinly in the rocks of the Earth.

Metals can be found in most places but only ores rich enough in metals are worth mining. Geologists can test areas where these ores can be found. Getting metals out of the rocks uses enormous amounts of energy. The supply is limited, so it is vital to conserve metals for the future.

The rock has been drilled from the ground to test for gold.

Forming metals

In the rocks there are pools of molten rock called magma. As the magma cools, rocks begin to form. Any liquid left is a mixture of very hot water and minerals. This mixture may react with nearby rocks and deposit minerals. The hot water may seep into cracks in the rock layers, react with rocks such as limestone or seep through volcanic lava. Rainwater may seep into the rocks, pick up minerals and deposit them in cracks. Ancient sea water trapped in rock layers may warm up and deposit minerals in cracks or seep through the sea bed as springs. Flowing water may carry minerals and deposit them on the sea bed. The inset shows how a typical deposit of minerals may look with the surrounding rocks removed.

Picture Credit : Google