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Industrial minerals

Industrial minerals are vital to a modern economy – they underpin manufacturing industry, construction and agriculture – they also have important environmental applications. The Mineral Planning Factsheets provide key information on minerals that are of economic importance to Britain, including a wide range of industrial minerals.

The following table of UK minerals production data shows the importance of industrial minerals.

Download a table of minerals produced in the United Kingdom (pdf)

INEOS Fluor's ZEPHEX plant, inhalers and non-stick pans. © Ineos Fluor

The need for indigenous fluorspar production in England

In partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), BGS has published a research report on ‘The need for indigenous fluorspar production in England’. This report examines the contribution of indigenously produced fluorspar to the English economy and the likely economic impacts on the chemical industry in England should production cease.

Industrial minerals: issues for planning

In 2003, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) commissioned research into the planning issues relevant to the supply of non–energy minerals other than aggregates in England (‘Industrial Minerals’). The summary (Industrial minerals: issues for planning) and full technical (Planning issues for industrial minerals) reports were produced by the BGS, Green Balance Planning and Environmental Services and DTZ Pieda. The technical appendix to the latter report is regularly updated as the Mineral Planning Factsheets.


Brick clay

Extraction of fireclay for brickmaking. BGS©NERC

Bricks are an important building material and are one of the most visible components of the built environment. The ODPM commissioned the BGS to carry out research into planning issues related to the supply of clay raw materials to the brick industry in mainland Britain. The report, Brick Clay: Issues for Planning. Executive Summary, details recommendations for a number of changes to the planning process for the supply of brick clay, which aim to provide the brick industry with a sustainable supply of raw materials at the least cost to the environment. Detailed findings and recommendations are set out in the technical report, Brick Clay: Issues for Planning, which is aimed at specialists in the brick industry and planning community. Further information can be found on the on Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) mineral planning website.

Fireclay

BGS was commissioned by the British Ceramic Confederation (BCC) and the Confederation of UK Coal Producers (CoalPro) to produce a brochure on Fireclays in Ceramic Production. For further information please contact BCC or CoalPro.

Extraction of ball clay – vital in the manufacture of sanitaryware and whiteware ceramics – in north Devon, BGS©NERC

Ball clay

Ball clays are a vital raw material in the manufacture of high quality ceramics. The restricted distribution of ball clay resources in the UK has led to a number of difficult planning issues. This is the case in the Wareham Basin of East Dorset where working of the internationally important deposits of ball clay is severely constrained by extensive landscape and nature conservation designations.

The ODPM commissioned the BGS to undertake a study of the inter–relationships of the mineral, land–use and environmental resources of the Wareham Basin. The research included detailed geological mapping, drilling, sampling, analytical work and the collation of data on the environmental constraints. The reports, maps and databases are intended to deliver information that will assist sustainable resource management, planning and policy development in the Wareham Basin.

To supplement this research thematic maps on a scale of 1:30,000 have been produced.

Maps 1 and 2 Distribution of clay and sand resources in the Wareham Basin

Maps 3 and 4

Mineral planning permissions, mineral workings, and preferred areas, ball clay Area of Search and Ball Clay Consultation Area on Map 1 and 2 bases

Maps 5 and 6

International nature conservation designations on Maps 1 and 2 bases

Maps 7 and 8

National landscape and nature conservation designations (SSSIs, NNRs, AONB, Heritage Coast, Scheduled Monuments) on Map 1 and 2 bases

Maps 9 and 10

Other land–use factors (MOD land, National Trust, groundwater, agricultural, conservation, pipelines and commercial forestry) on Map 1 and 2 bases

The results of the study are summarised in Sustainable development issues for mineral extraction in the Wareham Basin of East Dorset (to purchase full report quote: BGS CR/01/137N). The background to the research is given in the report Mineral Resources of East Dorset (to purchase quote BGS CR/01/138N). Reports plus maps and GIS (under licence) are available from the BGS Sales Desk.

BGS Industrial Mineral Resource Assessment

Clive Mitchell assessing limestone resource, BGS©NERC

The BGS industrial minerals consultancy service is founded on the extensive UK and international experience of its staff and the well-equipped laboratory facilities.

The services offered include:

  • Consultation: impartial advice on resource assessment, laboratory test work, mineral processing & commodity evaluation by BGS industrial minerals experts.
  • Resource assessment: involving reconnaissance surveying of resources, field sampling, GIS-based resource maps, reports and investment promotion brochures.
  • Technical evaluation: involving characterisation, mineral processing and evaluation test work to determine the end-use suitability of industrial mineral commodities.
  • Industrial minerals markets: the value of the technical evaluation can be enhanced by advice on potential markets, market survey research and investment promotion activities.
  • Industrial minerals training and workshops: training modules and workshops cover the importance of industrial minerals, markets, concepts, commodities, exploration, characterisation, mineral processing and end-use testing.

For further information contact BGS Industrial Minerals Specialist: Clive J Mitchell