Importance and applications of Industrial Minerals

Industrial resources (minerals) are geological materials that are mined for their industrial worth, that are not fuel (fuel minerals or mineral fuels) and aren’t sources of metals (metallic minerals) but are utilized in the industries based on their physical and/or chemical properties. they’re utilized in their natural state or after beneficiation either as raw materials or as additives in a very wide range of applications.

Industrial minerals could also be defined as minerals mined and processed (either from natural sources or synthetically processed) for the value of their non-metallurgical properties, that provides for their use in a particularly wide range of industrial and domestic applications.  As a general rule, they’ll also be defined as being non-metallic, non-fuel minerals.

Obvious examples of naturally occurring industrial minerals include:

  • clays
  • sand
  • talc
  • limestone
  • gypsum
  • pumice
  • potash

Other examples of natural industrial minerals include minerals that also have a metallurgical as well as non-metallurgical value, such as:

  • bauxite (aluminium metal + bauxite used in cements, abrasives, refractories & alumina source for many applications)
  • chromite (chrome metal & ferrochrome alloy + foundry sand, chemicals, pigments)
  • rutile (titanium metal + white pigment for paints, paper, plastics)
  • zircon (zirconium metal + source of zirconia for ceramics, glass)
  • manganese (manganese metal + source of manganese dioxide for batteries, pigments)
  • stibnite (antimony metal + source of antimony trioxide used as flame retardant)
  • Quartz (silicon metal + source of silica in glass, ceramics, fillers).

There are also synthetic industrial minerals that are factory-made from natural minerals. Artificial minerals are usually processed as a result of the inferior characteristics and/or scarcity of their natural counterparts.

Quite frankly, without industrial minerals, an enormous range of everyday domestic and important industrial product would simply not exist. In a median 9-5 working day you’ll probably acquire contact with a minimum of 100 things that are factory-made from industrial minerals.

A useful example is a quick examination of your home kitchen to see just how important industrial minerals are to our everyday environment. Industrial minerals in your kitchen:

In essence, wherever there is demand for these industrial and domestic applications, i.e. a market, this will create a trading business specific to that market. The crucial point is that the pattern of industrial minerals trade is utterly dictated by the needs of the population and the performance of the economy, and then combined with mineral availability.

As an industrial minerals consultant once said: “Without a market, an industrial mineral deposit is merely a geological curiosity”. So, put simply, no market demand = no mineral development = no mineral trade.

Mineral consuming market existence and its performance directly affects demand, and therefore trade, for mineral raw materials

The route of a mineral from mine to market may involve more than one stage, i.e. its consumption in manufacturing an intermediate mineral or end product, which is then consumed in the manufacture of another end product, which is then sold to an end-use market.

Many industrial minerals can serve a range of markets, which also impacts the pattern of minerals trade in that a single mineral source can supply several different customers owing to market type, as well as market geography.

For example, bentonite sourced in Wyoming travels to domestic and overseas population centres owing to its widespread use as an absorbent in cat litter products. However, its equally important use as a major component in drilling fluids means that it is also freighted to centres of oil and gas drilling activity, eg. Gulf of Mexico.

Typical examples of industrial rocks and minerals are limestone, clays, sand, gravel, diatomite, kaolin, bentonite, silica, barite, gypsum, and talc. Some examples of applications for industrial minerals are construction, ceramics, paints, electronics, filtration, plastics, glass, detergents and paper.

In some cases, even organic materials (peat) and industrial products or by-products (cement, slag, silica fume) are categorised underneath industrial minerals, further as metallic compounds mainly used in non-metallic type (as AN example most titanium is used as AN oxide TiO2 instead of Ti metal).

The analysis of raw materials to see their suitability to be used as industrial minerals needs technical test-work, mineral processing trials and end-product analysis; free to transfer evaluation manuals are accessible for the following industrial minerals: limestone, flake graphite, diatomite, kaolin, clay and construction materials.

The best way to see who is involved in the industrial minerals business is to examine the mine to market supply chain.

All industrial minerals are mined (surface and underground) and so undergo processing to refine the crude mineral ore into a processed grade or series or grades for sale to the market. These are then transported from the source to a different plant for further process, or directly to the consuming markets.

We at KERONE have experience of 47+ years in helping the industries with their needs. We at KERONE have a team of experts to help you with your need for Industrial Minerals in various products range from our wide experience.

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