A mineral is a naturally occurring inorganic element of compound having an orderly internal structure and characteristic chemical composition, crystal form, and physical properties. Minerals may be metallic, like gold, or nonmetallic, such as talc. Coal, oil, and natural gas are generally considered to be “energy minerals.”
A mineral deposit is a mineral occurrence of sufficient size and grade (concentration) that it might, under the most favorable of circumstances, be considered to have economic potential.
A mineral occurrence is a concentration of a mineral (usually considered in terms of some commodity, such as gold) that is considered valuable by someone somewhere or that is of scientific or technical interest. In rare instances, the commodity might not even be concentrated above its average crustal abundance.
Additional mineral resource terms are:
Aggregate is a rock or mineral material used separately and as filler in cement, asphalt, plaster, and other materials.
Alloy is a substance having metallic properties and composed of two or more chemical elements, of which at least one is a metal.
In the MEC Minerals Database, this commercial term is used to distinguish some geologically-derived bulk products, such as sand and gravel, that do not fit into the individual element, mineral or rock categories.
Element is a substance whose atoms have the same atomic number and cannot be decomposed into simpler substances by ordinary chemical processes.
Metal is a class of chemical elements, such as iron, gold, and aluminum. Metals have a characteristic luster, are good conductors of heat and electricity, and are opaque, fusible, and generally malleable and ductile.
Ore is the naturally occurring material from which a mineral or minerals of economic value can be extracted.
Rock is a naturally formed material composed of a mineral or minerals; any hard consolidated material derived from the Earth.
(Source: USGS, The Life Cycle of a Mineral Deposit, 2005)