Boron – Industrial Minerals

Jul 2, 2021 | DECARBONIZATION

Boron boric acid

Boron minerals are an important mineral in the Earth’s crust; they come from a variety of geological structures, such as pegmatite and metamorphic rocks. The most common boron minerals that form on Earth include Tincal, Tincalconite, Colemanite, Kernite, Ulexite, Pandermite, Boracite, Hydroboraclite, Inderite, Ascharite, Datolite, Sassolite, Meyerhofferite, Inyoite, Probertite. 

Boron Mining Companies

A number of companies specialise in the mining and refining of boron minerals. tes einlcude Rio Tinto, Eti Maden and emerging companies such as American Pacific Borates. They use various methods for extraction, such as open-pit or underground mining.

The mined boron minerals are then converted to profitable, sustainable goods. Boron can be found as raw resources for glass production among other industries including the use of compounds like detergents or cleaning agents which make it useful across many fields such as agriculture where we need healthy soil composition with phosphates and nitrates from fertilizers containing this element.

Major Boron Minerals with Commercial Importance

Kernite

Kernite, also known as rasorite, is a hydrated sodium borate hydroxide mineral with the formula Na2B407.4H2O. It is a colorless to white mineral crystallizing in the monoclinic crystal system typically occurring as prismatic to acicular crystals or granular masses. It is relatively soft with Mohs hardness of 2.5 to 3 and light with a specific gravity of 1.91. It exhibits perfect cleavage and a brittle fracture. Kernite is soluble in cold water and alters to tincalconite when it dehydrates. It undergoes a non-reversible alteration to metakernite when heated to above 100 °C.

Kernite was named for “Kern” county where it was discovered in 1926 — at the US Borax Mine, Boron, Kramer District, eastern Kern County, western Mojave Desert, Southern California, U.S. More recently it was discovered—now mined in Argentina, Spain, and Turkey.

Uses:

Kernite produces a white crystalline substance known as borax, best known for being used in soaps.

Tincalconite 

Tincalconite is a hydrous sodium borate mineral closely related to borax and is a secondary mineral that forms as a dehydration product of borax. Its formula is Na2B4O7·5H2O or Na2[B4O5(OH)4]·3H2O. Tincalconite typically occurs as a fine-grained white powder. It crystallizes in the hexagonal crystal system and has been found as primary euhedral di-rhombohedral, pseudo-octahedral crystals.

It is also found pseudomorphically replacing borax crystals. It has a specific gravity of 1.88 and a Mohs hardness of 2.  While most tincalconite is created by man through exposing borax to dry air, there are natural occurrences of tincalconite, as in Searles Lake, California where it was first described in 1878. In addition to several California and Nevada locations, it is reported from Argentina, Italy, Turkey, and Ukraine.

Uses:

Tincalconite, a boron-bearing mineral that’s great for absorbing odors while being gentle on surfaces and perfect as an all-purpose cleaner.

Probertite

The new borate described in this paper occurs as one of the minerals of the kernite deposit in the Kramer District, Kern County, California, and the name “probertite” NaCaB5O9·5H2O A colorless mineral crystallizing in the monoclinic system, consisting of hydrous sodium calcium borate is proposed for the mineral, in honor of Frank H. Probert, Dean of the Mining College, University of California, to whom the writer is indebted for specimens, photos, and notes of its occurrence.  

Uses:

People have sought out proberite, a mineral, for its jewelry and decorative uses. The stone is durable against water and is often mistaken to be hematite due to its similar colors. With buyers’ desires continuing to change, probertite at Stone Lines has received a dramatic increase in popularity over the years.

Ulexite 

Ulexite (NaCaB5O6(OH)6·5H2O, hydrated sodium calcium borate hydroxide), sometimes known as TV rock, is a mineral occurring in silky white rounded crystalline masses or parallel fibers. The natural fibers of ulexite conduct light along their long axes, by internal reflection. Ulexite was named for the German chemist Georg Ludwig Ulex (1811–1883) who first discovered it.

Ulexite is a structurally complex mineral, with a basic structure containing chains of sodium, water, and hydroxide octahedra. The chains are linked together by calcium, water, hydroxide, and oxygen polyhedra and massive boron units. The boron units have a formula of [B5O6(OH)6]3– and a charge of −3. They are composed of three borate tetrahedra and two borate triangular groups.

Uses:

Boron is one of the most abundant elements in Earth’s crust. It can be found not only as a mineral but also used to protect wood and pottery glazes. Additionally, when you dissolve ulexite into solutions with calcium carbonate it will form on its own.

Colemanite 

Colemanite (Ca2B6O11·5H2O) or (CaB3O4(OH)3·H2O) is a borate mineral found in evaporite deposits of alkaline lacustrine environments. Colemanite is a secondary mineral that forms by alteration of borax and ulexite. It was first described in 1884 for an occurrence near Furnace Creek in Death Valley and was named after William Tell Coleman (1824–1893), owner of the mine “Harmony Borax Works” where it was first found.[3] At the time, Coleman had alternatively proposed the name “smithite” instead of after his business associate Francis Marion Smith.

Uses:

A boron ore, Colemanite is an important material that has many uses. It can be used to make heat-resistant glass and was even the most popular usage of boron until 1926 when Kernite became available.

Meyerhofferite 

Meyerhofferite is a hydrated borate mineral of calcium, with the chemical formula Ca2B6O6(OH)10·2H2O, CaB3O3(OH)5·H2O or Ca2(H3B3O7)2·4H2O. It occurs principally as an alteration product of inyoite, another borate mineral. Natural meyerhofferite was discovered in 1914 in Death Valley, California It is named for German chemist Wilhelm Meyerhoffer (1864–1906), collaborator with J. H. van’t Hoff on the composition and origin of saline minerals, who first synthesized the compound.

Inyoite

Inyoite, named after Inyo County, California, where it was discovered in 1914, is a colorless monoclinic mineral. It turns white on dehydration. Its chemical formula is Ca(H4B3O7)(OH)·4H2O or CaB3O3(OH)5·4H2O. Associated minerals include priceite, meyerhofferite, colemanite, hydroboracite, ulexite, and gypsum.

Uses:

Inyoite alters by partial dehydration to meyerhofferite and colemanite, both of which are used as raw materials for borax and other boron-related products.

Pandermite

A white mineral consisting of a hydrated borate of calcium borate mineral species, published in 1877, but by that time the California mineral priceite had already been described, so the name priceite has precedence even though pandermite was known earlier, now regarded as identical with priceite.  The thermal decomposition of pandermite follows the same two-stage decomposition pattern. The first stage involves 3.5 mol of water at 438 °C, following by 0.5 mol of water at 438 °C. A rearrangement then takes place at 525 °C to form a tetraborate.

Uses:

“Pandermite” was originally a white, marble-like rock from the Panderma area used for carving statues. One such statue was analyzed by French amateur chemist Desmazures in 1865 and found to be high in boron.

Inderite

Inderite, also known as Lesserite, is a mineral that was named after its source, the Inder lake, near Inder mountain in Kazakhstan.[1] The samples were described in English by the soviet mineralogist Boldyreva in 1937. It’s a rare secondary mineral but is common in salt, potassium, and borate deposits.

Uses:

Inderite is a hydrated neotriborate boron mineral that can be found in gemology despite its’ qualities. This soft, white-to-reddish brown-colored stone must always be cut on top of the felt to avoid scratching the surface and drying it after cutting for storage purposes. It’s not considered rare because there are only a few mines containing inderite but due to this fact sometimes cabochons are possible cuts when looking at the material size.

Hydroboracite 

Hydroboracite is a hydrated borate mineral (hence the name) of calcium and magnesium, whose chemical composition is CaMgB6O8(OH)6·3H2O. It was discovered in 1834 in Atyrau Province, Kazakhstan. Hydroboracite is a minor borate ore mineral. Hydroboracite is a combination of the minerals calcium, magnesium, and boron. 

Uses :

Hydroboracite, the sodium-based form (borax) is in a highly soluble form and releases boron very quickly. Making it ideal for trees found in forestry environments with acidic soils where they might otherwise not last as long without treatment due to their sensitive nature towards absorbing harmful levels of salt through their roots when exposed at lower pH levels present within such ecosystems.

Boracite 

Boracite is a magnesium borate mineral with the formula: Mg3B7O13Cl. It occurs as blue-green, colorless, gray, yellow to white crystals in the orthorhombic – pyramidal crystal system. Boracite also shows pseudo-isometric cubical and octahedral forms. These are thought to be the result of the transition from an unstable high-temperature isometric form to cooling. Penetration twins are not unusual. It occurs as well-formed crystals and dispersed grains often embedded within gypsum and anhydrite crystals.

It has a Mohs hardness of 7 to 7.5 and a specific gravity of 2.9.  has a conchoidal fracture and does not show cleavage. It is insoluble in water (not to be confused with borax, which is soluble in water). Boracite is typically found in evaporite sequences associated with gypsum, anhydrite, halite, sylvite, carnallite, kainite, and hilgardite. It was first described in 1789 for specimens from its type locality of Kalkberg hill, Lüneburg, Lower Saxony, Germany. It is also found near Sussex, New Brunswick.

Uses:

Boracite is a gemstone that forms in the earth and can be used for cleaning or as an industrial chemical. Some people use it to make boric acid, which has many uses across industries like food production because of its antiseptic properties. 

Ascharite

A hydrated magnesium borate occurring in white lumps with boracite found near Aschersleben, Germany is the mineral of the class of borates, Mg2(OH)[V2O4(OH)]. Ascharite is a rare mineral that forms from the endogenous deposits of boron ores and salt-bearing sedimentary strata. It is found in large clusters within halogenous strata, as well as being common to serpentinite mines with high concentrations such as suanite or kotoites

Uses:

The Ascharite rock was reduced to its base components of boric acid and kieserite by the sulfuric acid method. The results yielded an average recovery rate for both substances, which is 71.06% when it comes to boric acid and 45.03% with regards to kieserite.

Datolite 

Datolite is a calcium boron hydroxide nesosilicate, CaBSiO4(OH). It was first observed by Jens Esmark in 1806. Datolite crystallizes in the monoclinic system forming prismatic crystals and nodular masses. The luster is vitreous and may be brown, yellow, light green, or colorless. The Mohs hardness is 5.5 and the specific gravity is 2.8 – 3.0.

It occurs as a secondary mineral in mafic igneous rocks often filling vesicles along with zeolites in basalt. Unlike most localities throughout the world, the occurrence of datolite in the Lake Superior region is usually fine-grained in texture and possesses colored banding. Much of the coloration is due to the inclusion of copper or associated minerals in progressive stages of hydrothermal precipitation.

Uses:

Datolite is a stone that has many uses. It can be used as a collector’s gemstone, and the nodules from Michigan are sliced and polished to create ornamental stones or minor gemstones.

Sassolite 

Sassolite is a borate mineral and is the mineral form of boric acid. It occurs in volcanic fumaroles and hot springs, as well as in bedded sedimentary evaporite deposits.

Its mineral form was first described in 1800 and was named after Sasso Pisano, Castelnuovo Val di Cecina, Pisa Province, Tuscany, Italy where it was found. The mineral may be found in lagoons throughout Tuscany and Sasso. Usually colored white to gray, it is colorless in transmitted light, and can also take on a yellow color from sulfur impurities, or brown from iron oxides.

Uses:

In nature, boric acid is in the form of a mineral called sassolite. This natural substance can be found all over the world and was first discovered in Italy during an excavation back when Ancient Rome ruled this region. Sassolite has been used for centuries to purify drinking water by filtering out any impurities like bacteria or dirt particles that might have entered with it from outside sources such as rainwater runoff or other contaminated wells nearby. In addition to its use at home, sassolites are also employed industrially wherever there’s a need for cleaner liquids on account of their unique ability to filter without breaking down.

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