National Minerals Information Center

Bauxite and Alumina Statistics and Information

Full view of Bauxite sample

Mineral: Bauxite
Mineral Origin: Les Baux, France (Sample donated by Gary Kingston)
Primary Commodity: Aluminum and Gallium
Primary Commodity Uses: Aluminum is one of the most used metals on the planet, finding roles in transportation, construction, packaging, electronics, and other consumer goods. Gallium is primarily used in integrated circuits and LEDs. The United States is currently 100% reliant on foreign sources for gallium used here.

(Credit: Scott Horvath, USGS. Public domain.)

Bauxite is a naturally occurring, heterogeneous material composed primarily of one or more aluminum hydroxide minerals, plus various mixtures of silica, iron oxide, titania, aluminosilicate, and other impurities in minor or trace amounts.  The principal aluminum 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 aluminum metal by the electrolytic reduction of alumina in a molten bath of natural or synthetic cryolite (Na3AlF6), the all-Héroult process.

 

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    E Lee Bray

    Mineral Commodity Specialist
    National Minerals Information Center
    Phone: 703-648-4979