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Ore, as mined, contains ore minerals, gangue minerals, and country rock. A mass of mineral matter is not considered ore unless one or more of its ore minerals can be recovered on a profitable basis. As originally used, ore minerals were metal bearing (see Metallic Minerals). More recently, nonmetallic minerals of commercial importance are considered ore minerals (see Mineral Industries).
The name, ore, appears to have been derived from the Middle English, oor, but its similarity to earlier names for copper ore and brass suggest a deviation. Gangue is from the Greek, gang, meaning “vein of metal,” the form gangue being of French derivation.