A mineral is a naturally occurring, typically inorganic substance with a specific chemical composition and structure. An unknown mineral usually can be identified according to known characteristics of specific minerals in terms of certain parameters that include its appearance, its hardness, and the ways it breaks apart when fractured. Minerals are not to be confused with rocks, which are typically aggregates of minerals. There are some 3,700 varieties of mineral, a handful of which are abundant and wide-ranging in their application. Many more occur less frequently but are extremely important within a more limited field of uses.

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