There are 4 types of minerals:

  1. Neutronium is the super dense mineral used for fuel on starships. It is far too unstable for use in building ship components.
  2. Duranium is a very strong mineral used to build the frame work of starship components and the armor skin of starbases and fighters.
  3. Tritanium is a mineral that can withstand very high pressures and  temperatures. It is used  widely in starship construction.
  4. Molybdenum is used mainly in high power energy wave guides. It is important for weapon construction and engine construction. High tech components tend to use greater amounts of molybdenum than lower tech components.
All unexplored planets will have some minerals sitting on the planet's surface along with minerals buried in the planet's core that can be mined.

Ships can detect the amount of minerals on any unowned planet that it is over. The ship can use its mineral survey or mineral detect screens to view the minerals. Enemy planets can not be scanned for minerals by a ship in orbit.  The enemy colonists are able to jam enemy starship sensors.

New minerals can form in the core of a planet due to the ISOTOPE TRANS-URANIUM MUTATION RATE