Aggregate of economically important minerals that is sufficiently rich to separate for a profit. Although more than 3,500 mineral species are known, only about 100 are considered ore minerals. The term originally applied only to metallic minerals (see native element) but now includes such nonmetallic substances as sulfur, calcium fluoride (fluorite), and barium sulfate (barite). Ore is always mixed with unwanted rocks and minerals, known collectively as gangue. The ore and the gangue are mined together and then separated. The desired element is then extracted from the ore. The metal may be still further refined (purified) or alloyed with other metals.

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