Almost every one of the aluminum that has ever been produced has to be made from bauxiteArticle by: Hobart M. King, PhD, RPG

Bauxite from little Rock, Arkansas, exhibiting a pisolitic habit and characteristic red iron staining. Specimen is approximately 4 inches (10 centimeters) across.

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What is Bauxite?

Many human being are surprised to discover that bauxite is no a mineral. It is a absent composed mostly of aluminum-bearing minerals. It creates when laterite soils are severely leached the silica and other soluble materials in a wet tropical or subtropical climate.

Bauxite is the major ore of aluminum. Almost every one of the aluminum that has ever been developed has been extracted indigenous bauxite. The joined States has a few small bauxite deposits however at the very least 99% of the bauxite used in the United says is imported. The United states is likewise a significant importer the aluminum metal.

What is Bauxite"s Composition?

Bauxite go not have actually a specific composition. The is a mixture that hydrous aluminum oxides, aluminum hydroxides, clay minerals, and insoluble products such as quartz, hematite, magnetite, siderite, and goethite. The aluminum mineral in bauxite have the right to include: gibbsite Al(OH)3, boehmite AlO(OH), and, diaspore, AlO(OH).

Physical properties of Bauxite
Color White, gray, occasionally stained yellow, orange, red, pink, or brown by iron or consisted of iron minerals
Streak Usually white, but iron stain deserve to discolor
Luster Dull, earthy
Diaphaneity Opaque
Cleavage None
Mohs Hardness 1 come 3
Specific Gravity 2 come 2.5
Diagnostic Properties Soft, low details gravity, color. Often exhibits pisolitic habit.
Chemical Composition Variable but constantly rich in aluminum oxides and aluminum hydroxides
Crystal System n/a
Uses The primary ore the aluminum. Man-made bauxite is used as one abrasive and also as a fracking proppant.

Physical properties of Bauxite

Bauxite is commonly a soft product with a hardness of only 1 to 3 ~ above the Mohs scale. That is white come gray to reddish brown v a pisolitic structure, earthy luster and also a low details gravity of between 2.0 and 2.5. These properties are valuable for identifying bauxite; however, they have actually nothing to execute with bauxite"s worth or usefulness. This is due to the fact that bauxite is practically always handle into one more material with physical properties that are distinctly various from bauxite.


Pisolites in bauxite: Close-up check out of the bauxite specimen in the photograph at optimal of page. This photograph shows information of the pisolites.

Bauxite provided for Aluminum Production

Bauxite is the principal ore that aluminum. The first step in developing aluminum is come crush the bauxite and also purify it making use of the Bayer Process. In the Bayer Process, the bauxite is wash in a warm solution of sodium hydroxide, i m sorry leaches aluminum native the bauxite. The aluminum is precipitated the end of equipment in the form of aluminum hydroxide, Al(OH)3. The aluminum hydroxide is then calcined to form alumina, Al2O3.

Aluminum is smelted from the alumina utilizing the Hall-Heroult Process. In the Hall-Heroult Process, the alumina is liquified in a molten bath of cryolite (Na3AlF6). Molten aluminum is gotten rid of from the solution by electrolysis. This process uses an massive amount of electricity. Aluminum is usually developed where electricity prices are really low. Lot of the aluminum used in the United claims is produced in Canada making use of hydroelectric power.


Bauxite there is no pisolites: Bauxite indigenous Demerara, Guyana. Part specimens of bauxite carry out not have actually the pisolitic structures. Specimen is around 4 inch (10 centimeters) across.

Use that Bauxite as an Abrasive

Calcined alumina is a synthetic corundum, i m sorry is a an extremely hard material (9 ~ above the Mohs Hardness Scale). Calcined alumina is crushed, be separate by size, and used together an abrasive. Aluminum oxide sandpaper, polishing powders, and also polishing suspensions space made indigenous calcined alumina.

Sintered bauxite is often used as a sand-blasting abrasive. It is created by crushing bauxite come a powder and then fusing it right into spherical beads at a very high temperature. This beads are really hard and very durable. The beads are then sorted by size for use in different varieties of sandblasting equipment and also for various sandblasting applications. Their round shape reduces wear ~ above the shipment equipment.


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Use of Bauxite together a Proppant

Sintered bauxite is additionally used together an oil ar proppant. In drilling for oil and natural gas, the reservoir absent is often fractured by pumping fluids into the well under very high pressures. The push builds up to really high levels that reason the shale reservoir rock to fracture. When fracturing occurs, water and also suspended particles recognized as "proppants" rush into the fractures and also push them open. When the pumps space turned off, the fractures close, trapping the proppant corpuscle in the reservoir. If an adequate variety of crush-resistant particles continue to be in the reservoir, the fractures will certainly be "propped" open, enabling for a flow of oil or organic gas out of the rocks and also into the well. This process is known as hydraulic fracturing.

Powdered bauxite deserve to be fused into tiny beads at an extremely high temperatures. This beads have actually a an extremely high to like resistance, and that makes them an ideal as a proppant. They can be produced in virtually any size and also in a selection of details gravity. The particular gravity that the beads and also their size deserve to be suitable to the viscosity that the hydraulic fracturing fluid and to the dimension of fractures that room expected to develop in the rock. Produced proppants carry out a wide selection of grain dimension and details gravity compared to a natural proppant known as frac sand.

Substitutes for Bauxite

World bauxite sources are enough for decades of manufacturing at present rates. Various other materials can be used instead of bauxite for alumina production. Clay minerals, alunite, anorthosite, power plant ash, and also oil shale might be provided to produce alumina yet at higher costs, using various processes. Silicon carbide and synthetic corundum are sometimes used in location of bauxite-based abrasives. Synthetic mullite and magnesium oxide do from magnesite are occasionally used in location of bauxite-based refractories.

2017 approximated Bauxite Production
Australia 83,000
China 68,000
Brazil 36,000
India 27,000
Guinea 45,000
Jamaica 8,100
Russia 5,600
Kazakhstan 5,000
nations producing end 5 million metric loads in 2017. Data indigenous the USGS Mineral Commodity Summary.

Bauxite Localities

Bauxite is found in abundance at plenty of locations about the world. In 2017 the ten leading bauxite producing nations were: Australia, China, Brazil, India, Guinea, Jamaica, Russia, and Kazakhstan. Each of these nations has sufficient reserves for countless years of continued production. Some have actually reserves because that over 100 years of production.

The United says has small amounts of bauxite in Arkansas, Alabama, and also Georgia; however, over there is very little mining that bauxite in the united States, and also at the very least 99% of consumption is imported.

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