Borates are a group of boron-bearing minerals containing boric oxide or B2O3. The common commercially valuable varieties are:
|Mineral||Composition||B2O3 weight %|
|Tincal (or borax)||Na2B4O7.10H2O||36.5|
Borate ores are found in young continental sedimentary basins associated with metamorphic core complexes. The relationship to the core complexes is an important one because the probable source for the boron-rich fluids that led to the formation of the borates was likely from fluids released during metamorphism of older sediments making up the base of the core complexes. The boron-rich fluids released during the deformation of the core complexes travelled up structures such as detachments faults that feed into the base of the neighboring sedimentary basins. Episodic pulses of the boron-rich fluids into the growing basins resulted in the formation of beds concentrated in primary Na-boron minerals that are often converted into secondary Ca-borate minerals during diagenesis. Some borates are sourced from saline brines in evaporate basins.
Borates are the primary source and feed stock for commercial boron compounds.
Boron compounds have a number of unique, highly technical, energy saving uses for which substitution with other compounds is difficult. Some of the applications for borates are:
Borate consumption areas (from Roskill Information Services):
The primary boron compounds that are marketed to commercial consumers are colemanite and boric acid. Boric acid is produced from colemanite and it is the principal feedstock used to produce other boron compounds.
Pricing for colemanite and boric acid is typically on a contract basis between producers and consumers. There is price information available from various sources (US Bureau of Mines, Roskill) that relates to current contract pricing.
Most recent price information places chemical grade boric acid at around $US700/tonne.
Colemanite prices vary from $US200/tonne for "lump" colemanite from Turkey to $US350 for 80% colemanite concentrates.
Bacanora's strategy will be to initially produce a marketable colemanite concentrate, then if conditions permit, upgrade it's facilities to produce a chemical grade boric acid derived from its colemanite.
January 25, 2013
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