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Silica

Silica, or silicon dioxide (SiO2), occurs as the MINERAL quartz and is the most abundant mineral of the Earth's crust. It also occurs in the skeletal parts of some animals (eg, certain protozoa) and various plants.

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Silver

Important producing countries now are Mexico, Peru, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the US, Canada, Australia, Chile, Poland and China. Photographic films and papers account for about 25% of the demand for silver.

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Titanium

Titanium (Ti) is a metallic element estimated to form about 0.5% of the rocks of the Canadian SHIELD. Titanium minerals of commercial importance include the dioxides rutile and anatase, which are polymorphs of TiO2 and ilmenite (FeO.TiO2), a mineral that contains 52.7% TiO2.

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Zinc

Zinc (Zn) is a bluish-white metal of low to intermediate hardness that melts at 419°C and is estimated to comprise about 0.013% of the earth's crust. Zinc is an essential element for human health; over 200 enzymes in the body require zinc for proper functioning.

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Mica

Phlogopite can be found in metamorphosed LIMESTONES, dolomites, serpentines and IGNEOUS ROCKS. It is light to dark brown and has properties and uses similar to muscovite.

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Barite

Barite (BaSO4) is a white, colourless, gray, brown, yellow, blue or red mineral found in sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks. It is composed of 65.7% barium oxide (BaO) and 34.3% sulphur trioxide (SO3).

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Platinum

Platinum (Pt) is the best known of the 6 greyish-white, metallic, platinum group elements, which also include palladium (Pd), iridium (Ir), rhodium (Rh), osmium (Os) and ruthenium (Ru). Platinum and palladium are more commonly used than the other elements in the group.

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Gemstone

Canada's first DIAMOND mine - the Ekati mine near Lac de Gras, NWT - began production in 1998. Most of the diamond production is exported, but a small percentage is reserved for cutting in Canada.

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Antimony

Antimony (Sb) is a silvery-white, lustrous, crystalline solid. Uncharacteristically for metals, it is brittle and conducts heat and electricity poorly. Antimony melts at 630°C and boils at 1380°C. The mineral stibnite is the most important source of antimony.

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Gypsum

The principal use for gypsum is wallboard. Crude gypsum is pulverized and heated to form stucco, which is mixed with water and aggregate (sand, vermiculite or expanded perlite) and applied over wood, metal or gypsum lath to form interior wall finishes.

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Mercury

Mercury (Hg) is a silvery white metal also known as quicksilver. Mercury is named for the Roman god of commerce, travel and thievery. It has been used for over 3000 years. Its chemical symbol, Hg, is derived from the Latin word hydrargyrum, which means "liquid silver.

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Soapstone

Soapstone's use dates back to antiquity: early Egyptians carved it into scarabs and seals; in China and India it was used for ornaments, implements and domestic utensils. It was similarly used at various times over the past 7,500 years by First Nations, Inuit and Norse in Canada (see Inuit Art).

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Columbium

Columbium (Cb), or niobium, is a grey, ductile, tarnish-resistant and superconductive metal with a melting point of 2468°C. The name niobium (Nb) was officially adopted in 1951 by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, after 100 years of controversy.

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Feldspar

Most of the world's feldspar is used in glass-making and in the production of ceramics such as wall and floor tiles and sanitaryware. It is also used to produce glazes and enamels and electrical porcelain. Feldspar occurs

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Chromium

Chromium (Cr) a hard, brittle, silver-white metal (melting point 1875° C), is widely known for its use as decorative trim on home appliances and automobiles. However, its most important use is in the manufacture of stainless STEEL, which typically contains about 20% chromium.

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Gold

Gold (Au) is a bright, shiny, yellow metal, notable for its high density (19.3 times the weight of an equal volume of water) and valued for its extreme ductility, strong resistance to corrosion, lustrous beauty and scarcity.

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Aluminum in Canada

Aluminum is a lightweight, strong and flexible metal that resists corrosion and is 100 per cent recyclable. It is a common material in vehicles, buildings, consumer goods, packaging, power transmission and electronics. Canada’s aluminum industry began at the turn of the 20th century and grew quickly during both World Wars. Today, Canada is the world’s fourth largest producer and second largest exporter of aluminum. The country nevertheless accounts for less than 5 per cent of global production. Aside from one smelter in Kitimat, British Columbia, all Canadian plants are in the province of Quebec.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Commodities in Canada

In commerce, commodities are interchangeable goods or services. Many natural resources in Canada are viewed as commodities. They are a major source of the country’s wealth. Examples of commodities include a barrel of crude oil, an ounce of gold, or a contract to clear snow during the winter. Commodity products often supply the production of other goods or services. Many are widely traded in futures exchanges (see Commodity Trading).