high purity quartz resources, deposit
High purity quartz deposit
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High Purity Quartz Resources

In the early 1970s, Brazil was the world's main supplier of high purity quartz based on lascas, a term used to describe manually beneficiated rock crystal. Up to 1974, when the Brazilian government imposed an embargo on exports of lump quartz, export levels rose to in excess of 10,000 tpa. There have been efforts in Brazil to move more into processed high purity quartz supply, led by Mineracao Santa Rosa (MSR), one of the leading lump quartz and lasca suppliers in the country. The other main source of lascas has been Madagascar, which is still producing from small mining operations.

Today, US-based Unimin Corp./Sibelco is the most significant producer of high purity quartz worldwide with deposits and operations in North Carolina, USA. One of the few alternative suppliers, Norwegian Crystallites, has been producing high purity quartz from its Drag plant in western Norway and several underground and open pit mines since mid-1996 when the company changed ownership. Following the acquisition of North Carolina K-T Feldspar (2001) and the Feldspar Corporation (2007) by french company Imerys, Norwegian Crystallites and Imerys joined to form the Quartz Corp. in 2011. Quartz raw material for high purity applications is mined just adjacent to one of the Unimin deposits in North Carolina, then shipped and refined into high purity quartz products at its Drag plant in Norway. Crystalline fillers and high purity quartz sand are produced and exported worldwide to the semiconductor, lighting and other industries. Although mined by two companies (Unimin Corp. and The Quartz Corp.), the geographical monopoly with only one major source for high purity quartz located in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, USA persists.

Potential new entrants into the high purity quartz world market are Moscow-based JSC Polar Quartz, with raw material supply based on the Neroika deposit on the eastern slope of the sub-polar (northern) Urals. After many years of stagnancy Rusnano, wholly owned by the Government of the Russian Federation, Ural Industrial Corporation, and Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug signed a shareholders’ agreement for the Polar Quartz project in 2011.

Kyshtym Mining (also known as KGOK or Russian Quartz), situated on the Eastern slopes of the South Ural mountains, supplied 60% of domestic high purity quartz demand in the Soviet era. A project to technically refine and re-equip the manufacturing processes started in 2011 with financial support from Rusnano. In 2012 the first production line offering a capacity of 6,000 tons per year for dry concentration has been launched. One year later Rusnano announced its partial exit from Russian Quartz selling it to Sumitomo Corporation, a leading integrated business group headquartered in Japan.

By the end of 2012, Nordic Mining released a Scoping Study, describing the current status of development in the Kvinnherad quartz project. During an advanced test program very low final impurity levels with improved melting behaviour were confirmed and reproduced for samples from different locations in the deposit.

Another recent project development located in Mauretania (North-Western Africa) has been presented by MMC (Mauretania Minerals Company) during the Silica Arabica 2012 event in Jeddah, KSA, with more than 150 quartz veins in the desert area and proven high purity of processed quartz.

Little is known about Chinese Jiangsu Pacific Quartz Co., the biggest lamp tubing producer in China. Although extensive exploration work has been carried out in previous years, only small scale deposits have been indentified calling for selective mining and small output serving share of its own quartz glass production.

Given its strategic relevance in the semiconductor and photovoltaic industry many more high purity quartz projects are under development in Angola, Argentina, Australia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Mauretania, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Vietnam or Turkey to name just a few in which ANZAPLAN is involved.