Natural resources are the foundation for our lives and lifestyles.
What would our lives be like without mining? Imagine a world without transportation such as jet planes or railroads, without communications such as cell phones or radar, without decorative items such as art or jewelry, without buildings such as skyscrapers or parking garages, without defense systems items such as missiles or submarines, without medical care items such as X-rays or surgical tools. We wouldn’t have any of these things without mining and minerals.
Chromium (element #24, symbol Cr) is a hard, bluish metallic element. The only ore of chromium is the mineral chromite and 99 percent of the world's chromite is found in southern Africa and Zimbabwe. Geologists estimate that there are about 11 billion tons of mineable chromite ore in the world, enough to supply the current demand for hundreds of years. It is mostly used for making stainless steel and other metal alloys.
Mineral Classification: oxides
Crystal System: isometric
Color: Black, to brownish black; brown to brownish black on thin edges in transmitted light
While China is the leading chromium-consuming country and the leading stainless steel producer, it is not a large producer of chromite ore. The United States, Kazakhstan, India and South Africa are the largest chromite-mining countries in the world. The mining method used for extracting chromite depends greatly on the characteristics of the deposit. These characteristics include whether it is stratiform or podiform, high grade or low grade, subsurface or near surface, or massive or disseminated. Because surface mining typically is less expensive than underground mining, it is preferred, but not always possible.
Like mining, beneficiation (processing, crushing, separating, smelting, refining, etc.) for chromite depends on the characteristics of the ore deposit and on the mining methods used. For example, an operation extracting only high-grade ore may require only hand sorting and screening. Beneficiation is necessary when chromite mineral is mixed with other minerals because of geologic conditions or when mechanized mining methods are nonselective.