People can conserve mineral resources by utilizing renewable resources. For example, using hydroelectricity and solar power as sources of energy may conserve mineral resources such as coal. Mineral resources may also be conserved through recycling. A good example is recycling of scrap metal. In addition, the use of new technological methods of mining and the training of miners conserves mineral resources by ensuring minimal wastage during the mining.
Examples of minerals include iron, oil, copper, salt, gold and lead. Unlike natural resources, mineral resources are nonrenewable, are unevenly distributed in the world and take many years to form. An important way to conserve some minerals is by substitution, when the plentiful resources are substituted for scarce ones. Mineral resources that require a small amount of power during refining, such as aluminum, should be recycled.
Mining and refining activities have adverse effects on the environment, including destruction of habitat land and air and water pollution. These negative impacts can be minimized through conservation of mineral resources. Mineral resources increasingly influence international relations. In countries where mineral resources have been discovered, their economies have improved significantly. For example, oil-producing countries in Africa are considered rich because of the revenues generated from oil and its products.