Humankind has had a long history of mining the earth for metal minerals, dating back thousands of years. Over three quarters of the chemical elements that occur naturally on our planet are metals. Today, virtually everything we interact with in our daily lives has in one way or another, been made with mined minerals. From toothpaste and electric vehicles, to our smartphones.
When we talk about metals, we’re usually referring to chemical elements that are solid, hard, strong and durable. They are good conductors of electricity and heat, and very malleable, so are easy to work into various different shapes and forms (such as thin sheets and wires). Most metals are opaque (unless extremely thin), shiny and silvery grey in color. Some metals, however, have differing colours; the best-known examples are gold, which has a yellowish colour and copper, with its characteristic reddish tones, although it turns blue after exposure to air converts it into copper oxide. Some metals are photoluminescent, magnetic, or antimicrobial, making them particularly interesting for art and design applications.