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Ores are naturally occurring mixtures of metal-containing minerals that were and are mined as raw materials for metal extraction. Natural concentrations of these minerals that can be extracted economically are called deposits. The distribution of the value minerals and metal contents in the deposits is usually very inhomogeneous. Ores have been mined and processed since the Neolithic period, first copper ores, later also other ores of the metals tin, lead, silver, etc. The prehistorically important epochs of the Copper Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age were named after metal extraction.

Sample properties

As ores are very inhomogeneous in terms of metal and mineral content, a larger sample quantity is generally required for a representative analysis (handpiece). In addition to the analysis of the mineral content and microstructure, the metal contents (major, minor and trace elements) and possibly also the isotopic composition of certain elements (for questions of origin of metal finds) are particularly relevant. For the chemical analysis, the handpiece or the initial sample is crushed, powdered and homogenised. Subsamples are then taken from the powdered sample for the various chemical and isotopic analysis techniques.