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Humans have used metals for at least 14 000 years, but their use increased dramatically

when metals were extracted from mineral compounds

The extract metals from the minerals requires an input of energy to break and rearrange
chemical bonds
The first metals to be extracted and widely used were copper an ion. Their widespread
use is marked by the Copper, Bronze and Iron ages
The use of metals are determined by their physical and chemical properties
Aluminium metal was not used widely until a cost-effective methods of extraction was
The current uses of a selection of metals are summarized below

Metal Properties uses
Copper Excellent thermal and
electrical conductor,
malleable and ductile, low
reactivity, readily forms alloys
Electric cables and wiring,
radiators, refrigeration
systems, water pipes, alloys
including bronze and brass
Iron Soft, malleable, magnetic,
good thermal and electrical
conductor, fairly reactive,
readily forms alloys
Due to its susceptibility to
corrosion it is usually
converted to steal which is
used in buildings, bridges,
automobiles, machines etc.
Aluminium Low density, relatively soft
when pure, excellent thermal
and electrical conductor,
malleable and ductile, good
reflector of heat and light,
readily forms alloy
Saucepans, frying pans,
drinking cans, electrical
cables, aircraft construction
Titanium Great strength, high melting
point, low density, low
reactivity, readily forms alloys
In lightweight, high strength
alloys used in high
temperature environments,
spacecraft and aircraft, pipes
Chromium Shiny silver appearance,
resists corrosion, readily
forms alloys
Plating other metals as an
additive in steel alloys,
stainless steel
Cobalt Magnetic, readily forms alloys In alloys such as alnico to
manufacture permanent
Nickel Magnetic, readily forms alloys An additive in steel alloys to
make coins
Gold Shiny gold appearance,
excellent thermal and
Electrical connections,
electrical conductor,
unreactive, readily forms

Few metals are used in their pure form. Most are combined with other elements to form
alloys with modified properties that extend the range of the metals uses
Alloys include various types of steel(iron and other elements), bronze(copper and tin),
brass(copper and zinc), solder(lead and tin)
Alloys are generally harder than the metals from which they are made and often are
more resistant to corrosion
Ores are naturally occurring deposits containing minerals from which a substance,
usually a metal can be economically extracted
The steps in the metallurgical process are : mining, milling or concentration, smelting or
extraction and refining
In metal extraction, less reactive metals are easier to extract from their ores than more
reactive metals
The historical use of metals was determined by the abundance of metal ores and the
ease of extraction of the metal
Copper extraction involves froth flotation to concentrate the chalcopyrite ore, roasting the
ore to separate the FeO slag, further roasting to form blister copper, and electrolytic
refining to produce high-purity copper
Minerals are non-renewable resources. Metal resources are being extended through
improved methods of detecting and accessing new ore deposits, more efficient
extraction techniques, reduction of corrosion and increased recycling
The commercial price of a metal is determined by its abundance, cost of production and
demand for the metal
Aluminium is produced by electrolytic reduction in the Hall-Heroult process. Alumina and
cryolite are melted and electrolysed. Molten aluminium is formed at the cathode. The
carbon anodes burn away as gaseous carbon dioxide
Recycling helps to conserve and extend the use of metals and energy. Many metals
including aluminium, copper and steel are recycled