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Industrial minerals include both common and uncommon minerals and some rocks. Construction raw materials such as aggregates are included. Industrial minerals can be categorized according to their market characteristics as bulk minerals, either within or outside a vertically integrated industry, national or regional commodities, internationally traded commodities, dual-purpose metal ores, or very high-value minerals. Bulk minerals are almost entirely used for construction. National and regional commodities in general supply the needs of basic industries in a country. Internationally traded commodities are less widespread. They are often marketed through an industrial minerals trader, with no direct relationship between the producer and consumer.

A broad correlation can be established between the industrial mineral categories and the terrain in which they can be found. A passive continental margin with a sequence of sedimentary rocks can contain many of the industrial minerals used as national or regional commodities. Many bulk minerals are also found here. Internationally traded commodities tend to be found in either basement strata, active continental margins or in rift-valley terrains. Weathering processes lead to further industrial minerals found either as residual or alluvial and placer deposits.

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