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Bauxite is a naturally occurring, heterogeneous material composed primarily of one or more aluminium hydroxide minerals, plus various mixtures of silica, iron oxide, titania, aluminosilicate, and other impurities in minor or trace amounts.

The principal aluminium hydroxide minerals found in varying proportions with bauxites are gibbsite and the polymorphs boehmite and diaspore. Bauxites are typically classified according to their intended commercial application: abrasive, cement, chemical, metallurgical, refractory, etc.

The bulk of world bauxite production (approximately 85%) is used as feed for the manufacture of alumina via a wet chemical caustic leach method commonly known as the Bayer process. Subsequently, the majority of the resulting alumina produced from this refining process is in turn employed as the feedstock for the production of aluminium metal by the electrolytic reduction of alumina in a molten bath of natural or synthetic cryolite (Na3AlF6), the Hall-Heroult process.

Bauxite is the only raw material used in the production of alumina on a commercial scale in the United States. However, the vast U.S. resources of clay are technically feasible sources of alumina. Other domestic raw materials, such as anorthosite, alunite, coal wastes, and oil shales, offer additional potential alumina sources. Although it would require new plants using new technology, alumina from these nonbauxitic materials could satisfy the demand for primary metal, refractories, aluminum chemicals, and abrasives. Synthetic mullite, produced from kyanite and sillimanite, substitutes for bauxite-based refractories. Although more costly, silicon carbide and alumina-zirconia substitute for bauxite-based abrasives.

Table of contents
1 History
2 World Bauxite Mine Production, Reserves, and Reserve Base
3 External Links


Bauxite was named after the village Les Baux de Provence in southern France, where it was first discovered in 1821 by the geologist Pierre Berthier.

Due to the exhaustion of its bauxite mines, France has almost completely ceased the exploitation of bauxite since 1991. French mines were located in the Var, Bouches-du-Rhône and Herault departements.

World Bauxite Mine Production, Reserves, and Reserve Base

                       Mine production    Reserves    Reserve base
                        2000     2001
Australia              53,800   53,500   3,800,000     7,400,000
Brazil                 14,000   14,000   3,900,000     4,900,000
China                   9,000    9,200     720,000     2,000,000

Guinea 15,000 15,000 7,400,000 8,600,000 Guyana 2,400 2,000 700,000 900,000 India 7,370 8,000 770,000 1,400,000 Jamaica 11,100 13,000 2,000,000 2,500,000 Russia 4,200 4,000 200,000 250,000 Suriname 3,610 4,000 580,000 600,000 United States NA NA 20,000 40,000 Venezuela 4,200 4,400 320,000 350,000 Other countries 10,800 10,200 4,100,000 4,700,000 ---------------------------------------------------------------- World total (rounded) 135,000 137,000 24,000,000 34,000,000

(Numbers for 2001 estimated)

External Links

See also: List of minerals