Primary versus secondary materials

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  • A primary material or mineral deposit exists in nature as a natural resource. Economic considerations decide when a mineral deposit should be called an ore.
  • Secondary materials have already been exploited. They may result from chemical processing e.g. waste residue, by-products or scrap from mines and smelters, metal bearing scrap, ashes from combustion plants and wastes derived from other industrial processes. Secondary materials can be looked upon as sources of raw material that can be reprocessed to recover desired metal.

Reprocessing of secondary materials by leaching to recover desired metal is still only experimental. (Is this true?)


  • Minerals that result from crystallisation during the cooling of magma are primary or igneous minerals.
  • Minerals that result from chemical alteration (weathering or diagenesis) of primary minerals are known as secondary minerals.
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