McGill Research Group Investigating
Canadian Mining in Latin America

The formation and types of mineral deposits 

A mineral is a naturally occurring element or chemical compound that has been formed through geologic processes. Mineral deposits form because a transporting agent (such as groundwater, seawater, or magma) is forced to precipitate or deposit the minerals. Latin America has a wide variety of mineral deposits due to the varying environmental conditions under which the minerals were precipitated.

Minerals are classified into silicates, native elements, sulfides, oxides, halides, carbonates, sulfates, and phosphates.

Oxides (hydroxides): a large group of ore minerals with a structure based on closely-packed oxygen atoms in which smaller cations occur in the intervening space. Include aluminum, iron, manganese, titanium, chromium, tin, tungsten, tantalum, niobium, and uranium.

Carbonates: Carbonate minerals all have the carbonate ion as the basic structural unit and are one of the most widely distributed minerals in the Earth’s crust, but only a few such as iron, manganese, magnesium are ore minerals.

Silicates: Any of the silicon-oxygen compounds. The most important are beryllium, zirconium, and lithium. (Certain Nickels).

Halides: Minerals with a dominant halide anion including Halite, Sylvite, Flurite, Bararite, and Cryolite.

Phosphates: Minerals that contain a phosphate anion with free substitution of arsenate and vanadate. Only a few species are common such as the apatite group, lazulite, and turquoise.

Sulfates: Has a large number of minerals but few are common. Includes barite, celestite, anglesite, anhydrite, and gypsum.

Sulfides: Contain sulfide as the major anion. Sulfide ores are an important source for the production of nickel, copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, molybdenum, antimony, mercury, and bismuth.

Native Elements: Minerals which occur in nature with an uncombined form and a distinct mineral structure. Includes (but not exclusive to) aluminum, antimony, arsenic, bismuth, carbon, chromium, copper, gold, iron, lead, mercury, nickel, platnum, silver, sulfur, silicon, tin, zinc, titanium.