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Mining jargon


Peat is a renewable, natural, organic material of botanical origin and commercial significance. Peatlands are situated predominately in shallow wetland areas of the Northern Hemisphere, where large deposits developed from the gradual decomposition of plant matter under anaerobic (low oxygen) conditions. Peat has widespread use as a plant-growth medium in a variety of horticultural and agricultural applications because its fibrous structure and porosity promote a combination of water-retention and drainage. Commercial applications include potting soils, lawn and garden soil amendments, and turf maintenance on golf courses. In industry, peat is used primarily as a filtration medium to remove toxic materials from process waste streams, pathogens from sewage effluents, and deleterious materials suspended in municipal storm-drain water. In its dehydrated form, peat is a highly effective absorbent for fuel and oil spills on land and water.

Phosphate Rock

Phosphorus is an essential element for plant and animal nutrition. Most phosphorus is consumed as a principal component of nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium fertilizers used on food crops throughout the world. Phosphate rock minerals are the only significant global resources of phosphorus. The United States is the world's leading producer and consumer of phosphate rock, which is used to manufacture phosphate fertilizers and industrial products.

Platinum-Group Metals

Naturally occurring platinum and platinum-rich alloys have been known for a long time. The Spaniards named the metal "platina," or little silver, when they first encountered it in Colombia. They regarded platinum as an unwanted impurity in the silver they were mining. The catalytic properties of the six platinum group metals (PGM)—iridium, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhodium, and ruthenium–are outstanding. Platinum's wear and tarnish resistance characteristics are well suited for making fine jewelry. Other distinctive properties include resistance to chemical attack, excellent high-temperature characteristics, and stable electrical properties. All these properties have been exploited for industrial applications. Platinum, platinum alloys, and iridium are used as crucible materials for the growth of single crystals, especially oxides. The chemical industry uses a significant amount of either platinum or a platinum-rhodium alloy catalyst in the form of gauze to catalyze the partial oxidation of ammonia to yield nitric oxide, which is the raw material for fertilizers, explosives, and nitric acid. In recent years, a number of PGM have become important as catalysts in synthetic organic chemistry. Ruthenium dioxide is used as coatings on dimensionally stable titanium anodes used in the production of chlorine and caustic. Platinum supported catalysts are used in the refining of crude oil, reforming, and other processes used in the production of high-octane gasoline and aromatic compounds for the petrochemical industry. Since 1979, the automotive industry has emerged as the principal consumer of PGM. Palladium, platinum, and rhodium have been used as oxidation catalyst in catalytic converters to treat automobile exhaust emissions. A wide range of PGM alloy compositions is used in low-voltage and low-energy contacts, thick- and thin-film circuits, thermocouples and furnace components, and electrodes.


Potash is used primarily as an agricultural fertilizer (plant nutrient) because it is a source of soluble potassium, one of the three primary plant nutrients; the others are fixed nitrogen and soluble phosphorus. Potash and phosphorus are mined products, and fixed nitrogen is produced from the atmosphere by using industrial processes. Modern agricultural practice uses these primary nutrients in large amounts plus additional nutrients, such as boron, calcium, chlorine, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, sulfur, and zinc, to assure plant health and proper maturation. The three major plant nutrients have no substitutes, but low-nutrient-content, alternative sources of plant nutrients, such as animal manure and guano, bone meal, compost, glauconite, and "tankage" from slaughterhouses, can be used. Potash denotes a variety of mined and manufactured salts, all containing the element potassium in water-soluble form.

Pumice and Pumicite

The main use for pumice is as an aggregate in lightweight building blocks and assorted building products. The other major applications for pumice and pumicite include abrasive, absorbent, concrete aggregate and admixture, filter aid, horticultural (including landscaping), and the stonewashing of denim.


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