rusty metal tools at Geevor

Metals are vital in everyday life.

Out of the ninety four naturally occurring elements around seventy are classified as metals. When we describe something as being metallic it is often because it is hard, heavy, lustrous, formed from a metal and strong enough to be made into huge variety of tools, machines and structures.Humans first used metals about 8000 years ago and by 6500 years ago began to extract metals from ores.

Ores are rocks that contain enough metal minerals to make it worthwhile extracting them. For example, tin or (Cassiterite) is used to make tin and iron ore (Haematite) is used to make iron and steel. The ore needs to be heated to extreme temperatures in order to turn it into metal. 

The first metals people used were native metals like copper, silver and gold, which can occur naturally as metals rather then an ore. These occur as metal deposits in the ground and are easy to make into objects like jewellery and tools.


Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of the T Grevatt collection held by Cornwall Council


Tungsten (W)

Click to see a larger version of this imagetungsten filament in a light bulb

Switch on a light bulb and it's there for all to see. 

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Copper (Cu)

Click to see a larger version of this imagecopper mineral specimen

It’s hard to imagine a world without copper. We rely on copper for supplying power, lighting, heating, communications, and water.

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Lead (Pb)

Lead is one of the oldest metals known to humans.

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How is Tin used?

Click to see a larger version of this imagetin can

Tin is used in a number of industrial processes throughout the world.

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Comment left by scott peisley on 2010-04-28 02:55:59



Comment left by geo on 2010-08-01 15:31:08



Comment left by toasty redhead on 2011-05-29 10:54:31

I never thought of it that way, well put!


Comment left by Polo on 2011-09-08 23:10:25

Trends in global tin production have changed significantly since the 1985 tin crisis. In 2009 statistics for the world’s major tin producing countries is estimated as China (44%), Indonesia (21%), Peru (14%), Bolivia (7%), Brazil (5%) and Dem Rep of Congo (4%).


Comment left by James Lever on 2011-11-21 02:58:09

Some of the arsenic exported to America may have been re-imported to Lancashire carried in cotton bales as calcium arsenate pesticide used to combat the boll weevil. Seven million tons of American cotton were imported to Lancashire from 1920-1950


Comment left by frederick jatong on 2012-05-19 08:39:52

I pray one day to visit a mine like this.


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