Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties
Kumas-Kuthaya Magnesite Works
Korea General Magnesia Clinker Industry Group
Industrias Penoles, Ube Material Industries
Haicheng Houying Group
Haicheng Magnesite Refractory
Haicheng Huayu Group
Liaoning Jinding Magnesite
Liaoning Wang Cheng Magnesium Group
Qinghua Refractory Group
Dashiqiao Huamei Group
Hartley (Haicheng) Magnesite
Weifang Qiangyuan Chemical Industry
Magnesium. Magnesium is the lightest structural metal used today, some 30% lighter than aluminium, and is generally used in alloys. Pure magnesium burns vigorously once molten, but magnesium alloys have higher melting points and are widely used in the automotive and aircraft industries.
Magnesium oxide, also called magnesia with chemical formula MgO, is a white solid mineral that occurs naturally as periclase and is a source of magnesium. MgO is used as an insulator in industrial cables, as a basic refractory material for crucibles and as a principal fireproofing ingredient in construction materials. Magnesium oxide is also utilized in the agricultural, chemical, food, pharmaceutical, environmental and industrial applications.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is the lightest of all commonly used structural materials with a density of 1.7g/cm3 (106.13lb/ft3) approximately 1/3 lighter than aluminum. It is the 8th most abundant element in the earth’s crust however, it is rarely found in its pure form due to the fact that it bonds with other elements easily. It was first produced in 1808 in small quantities by Sir Humphrey Davy and industrial production first began in 1886 in Germany. Magnesium was first found in an area of Thessaly/Greece called Magnesia. The ore got its name from this location and can still be found in great quantities there.
Where is Magnesium Found?
Most magnesium produced globally comes from natural minerals such as dolomite and magnesite in the form of magnesium carbonate. It can also be found in seawater which contains 0.13 percent of the element in the form of magnesium chloride, and in salt lakes brines or underground mineral salt deposits. Magnesium can be produced through several different methods including the electrolytic process or thermal-reduction as practiced in the most commonly used Pidgeon process.
The electrolytic process involves the electrolysis of molten magnesium chloride between 655°C and 720°C which produces molten magnesium and chlorine. The magnesium chloride comes either from salty brines after solar evaporation and chemical treatments or solid carnallite (KCl.MgCl2.6H20) dehydrated. The metal is cast into ingots for further processing as needed and the chlorine by product may be sold for use in the production of polymers (e.g. PVC).
In the thermal-reduction method calcined magnesium containing ores (magnesite and dolomite) are broken down into fine powder and mixed with reducing agents and catalyst agent. The mixture is heated up to 1200°C in a vacuum chamber producing magnesium vapors which later condense into crystals. The crystals are then melted, refined and poured into ingots for further processing.
The Pidgeon process, using ferrosilicon as the reductant and CaF2 as catalyst, is most commonly used for production of magnesium due to the fact that its operation is relatively easy, versatile and has low capital cost. The traditional process using horizontal retorts is high in energy consumption and has low productivity; however more modern vertical designs are more efficient. In the horizontal process, magnesium is generally collected from a condenser on the outside of a furnace. High purity magnesium can be obtained from the condenser since the vapor pressure of impurities that may be in the magnesium are low under the conditions in the retort.
The largest producers of magnesium are China, USA, Israel, Brazil, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkey. New plants have been built in Malaysia, South Korea and Iran, and pilot plants for future operations have been constructed in Australia and Canada.
Advantages of Magnesium Use
There are many advantages to using magnesium and its alloys. With the lowest density of all commercial casting alloys, magnesium is 33 percent lighter than aluminum and 75 percent lighter than steel. Despite the lower density, magnesium alloys have a comparable strength to weight ratio to aluminum. Magnesium and its alloys also have a high vibration damping capacity making them an ideal material choice for many high speed applications. Electromagnetic interference reduction is another desirable quality that magnesium can offer as a material. In an increasingly environmentally conscious world, the full recyclability and ample availability of the metal also make it a suitable choice.
Courtesy of intlmag.org
USGS Information for magnesium is below.
[Data in thousand metric tons of magnesium oxide (MgO) content unless otherwise noted]2
Domestic Production and Use: Seawater and natural brines accounted for about 70% of U.S. magnesium compound production in 2017. The value of production of all types of magnesium compounds was estimated to be $250 million. Magnesium oxide and other compounds were recovered from seawater by one company in California and another company in Delaware, from well brines by one company in Michigan, and from lake brines by two companies in Utah. Magnesite was mined by one company in Nevada. One company in Washington mined olivine and processed it for use as foundry sand. About 60% of the magnesium compounds consumed in the United States were used in agricultural, chemical, construction, environmental, and industrial applications in the form of caustic- calcined magnesia, magnesium chloride, magnesium hydroxide, and magnesium sulfates. The remaining 40% was used for refractories in the form of dead-burned magnesia, fused magnesia, and olivine.
Salient Statistics—United States:
Production (shipments) Shipments (gross weight)
280 285 425 435 439 515
71 79 648 721 250 250
280 292 424 441 621 401
83 99 818 594 260 260
330 490 400 110 620 260
47 or for use as
Imports for consumption
Exports 3Consumption, apparent Employment, plant, number
Net import reliance4 as a percentage
of apparent consumption
Recycling: Some magnesia-based refractories are recycled, either for reuse as refractory material construction aggregate.
Import Sources (2013–16): Caustic-calcined magnesia: China, 49%; Canada, 20%; Australia, 11%; Brazil, 11%; and other, 9%. Dead-burned and fused magnesia: China, 56%; Brazil, 25%; Ukraine, 6%; Turkey, 6%; and other, 7%. Magnesium chloride: Israel, 62%; Netherlands, 28%; China, 3%; India, 2%; and other, 5%. Magnesium hydroxide: Mexico, 32%; Israel, 21%; Austria, 19%; Netherlands, 12%; and other, 16%. Magnesium sulfates: China, 76%; Germany, 19%; Canada, 2%; Mexico, 2%; and other, 1%.
Dead-burned and fused magnesia Caustic-calcined magnesia Kieserite
Magnesium hydroxide Magnesium chloride
Magnesium sulfate (synthetic)
2519.10.0000 2519.90.1000 2519.90.2000 2530.20.1000 2530.20.2000 2816.10.0000 2827.31.0000 2833.21.0000
Normal Trade Relations 12–31–17
3.1% ad val.
1.5% ad val.
3.7% ad val.
Depletion Allowance: Brucite, 10% (Domestic and foreign); dolomite, magnesite, and magnesium carbonate, 14% (Domestic and foreign); magnesium chloride (from brine wells), 5% (Domestic and foreign); and olivine, 22% (Domestic) and 14% (Foreign).
Government Stockpile: None.
Events, Trends, and Issues: Global consumption of dead-burned and fused magnesia increased by about 5% during the first 8 months of 2017 compared with that in the same period of 2016, as world steel production increased in 2017. Prices for dead-burned magnesia and caustic-calcined magnesia increased as steel production increased, despite abundant supplies from China. Consumption of dead-burned and fused magnesia increased slightly in the United States in 2017 and was expected to increase at a gradual rate in the foreseeable future.
Consumption of caustic-calcined magnesia continued to increase for animal feed supplements and fertilizer as the importance of magnesium as a nutrient gained recognition. Environmental applications, such as wastewater treatment, also accounted for increasing consumption of magnesium compounds, including caustic-calcined magnesia and magnesium hydroxide.
Prepared by E. Lee Bray [(703) 648–4979, firstname.lastname@example.org]
At the end of 2016, China eliminated its quotas on magnesia exports. This action was not expected to result in increased exports in the near term as magnesia exports in previous years have been below quota levels. A small amount of production capacity closed at magnesia plants in China during the first part of 2017; however, stronger enforcement of environmental regulations by the Government of China resulted in more shutdowns in the second half of the year, but employment concerns limited shutdowns at the Provincial level in China. Particularly, the magnesia industry in Liaoning Province (the leading magnesia-producing Province) was still generally composed of companies with small capacities and obsolete equipment.
Although magnesia from North Korea has been sold in China for many years, imports from North Korea were restricted by the Government of China in 2017. Significant price increases were reported for magnesia exports from China during the second half of 2017. With lower production in China and reduced imports to China from North Korea, decreased supplies and increased prices were expected to continue.
World Magnesite Mine Production and Reserves:6 In addition to magnesite, vast reserves exist of well and lake brines and seawater from which magnesium compounds can be recovered. Reserves for Australia, Brazil, China, Greece, and Turkey were revised based on Government reports.
United States W Australia 425 Austria 710 Brazil 1,100 China 18,600 Greece 400 India 317 Korea, North 700 Russia 1,300 Slovakia 560 Spain 300 Turkey 2,700 Other countries 9 770
World total (rounded) 27,900
W 450 730 1,200 18,000 400 300 300 1,300 570 310 2,7009 770 27,000
Mine production e
8 35,000 320,000 50,000 390,000 1,000,000 280,000 90,000 1,500,000 2,300,000 120,000 35,000 230,000 1,400,000 7,800,000
World Resources: Resources from which magnesium compounds can be recovered range from large to virtually unlimited and are globally widespread. Identified world magnesite and brucite resources total 12 billion tons and several million tons, respectively. Resources of dolomite, forsterite, magnesium-bearing evaporite minerals, and magnesia-bearing brines are estimated to constitute a resource of billions of tons. Magnesium hydroxide can be recovered from seawater. As serpentine could be used as a source of magnesia, a project in Canada was exploring a method to produce magnesia from serpentine in tailings of an asbestos mine in Quebec.
Substitutes: Alumina, chromite, and silica substitute for magnesia in some refractory applications.
Magnesium Production Case Study: