Industrial minerals are geological materials mined and processed for their commercial use. They are sources of non-metallic minerals and are used in their natural form, or as additives or raw materials, for a broad range of applications.
Typical examples of industrial minerals include talc, gypsum, barite, silica, bentonite, kaolin, diatomite, gravel, sand, clays, and limestone. In some cases organic materials, such as peat, and industrial by-products, such a silica fume, slag, and cement, are also referred to as industrial minerals. Some of the key applications of industrial minerals include paper manufacturing, detergents, glass, plastics, filtration, electronics, paints, ceramics, and construction.
All industrial minerals are mined either by surface or underground mining, and processed to refine the crude mineral ore into a processed grade for sale. Finally, the processed ores are then transported to another plant for further processing, or directly sold to the consuming markets.
Various raw materials are evaluated to determine their suitability for application as industrial minerals, based on technical test work, end-product evaluation, and several mineral processing trials. Since industrial minerals serve a wide range of markets, the pattern of mineral trade can be easily affected, such that a single industrial mineral source can supply various customers due to the type and geography of market.