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Here Bentonite

Uses and Sources

 Made up mainly of montmorillinite,
 Formed from the weathering of
volcanic ash beds
 Named for Fort Benton, WY, where it
was first described as part of a
Cretaceous tuff sequence
 Grades vary, but it is generally
impure, with inclusions of other
(IMA-NA 2007) minerals, as well as quartz,
feldspar, calcite, and gypsum
Properties &
 Thixotropy
– Can be semi-solid at rest, but
will be liquid when agitated
– Used as a thickening and suspension
agent in paints, dyes, and varnishes

(KSGS 2002)
Properties &
 Cohesion
– Binder and pelletizer
– Ironworks: ore pellets for
feeding into furnaces, and
as a binder in casting sand

(MiningLife 2005)
Properties &
 Absorption / Adsorption
– Can absorb several times it dry
weight in water
– Pet litter, impermeable clay liners,
wastewater treatment, detergent
purification, paper pulp purification,

(IMA-NA 2007)
Properties &
 Inertness
– Won’t kill you to eat it!
– Filler in pharmaceuticals, animal
feed, and cosmetics
– Purifier and clarifier in beer, wine,
and honey

(WSGS 2007)
Properties &
 Viscosity and Plasticity
– Drilling: vertical and horizontal
– Lubricates the bit, seals the walls of
the borehole, removes drill cuttings
– Additive in Portland cement,
mortars, and specialized

(WSGS 2007)
Bentonite as a Value-Added
 Bentonite is not often taken straight
from the ground to market.
 Much purification is often undergone
to specialize the product
– Sieving (for granular bentonite)
– Milling (fine and superfine powdered
– Removal of associated gangue minerals
– Treated with acids (“bleaching earths”)
– Treated with organics (“organoclays”)
(IMA-NA 2007)
Bentonite Producers &
 AMCOL International (miner, refiner,
large producer of bentonite products)
 Aqua Technologies (organoclay water
 Black Hills Bentonite LLC (miner and
1st-stage refiner)
 BPM Minerals LLC (producer)
 CETCO (special-purpose bentonite
 Montana Bentonite LLC (producer and
Production Methods
 Drilling & Sampling
 Soil Profiling (to aid
in speedy recovery
after reclamation)
 Topsoil &
removal (usual with
 Quarrying with
loader & truck
 Only economic to
mine bentonite with
no more than 50
(WMA-Minelife 2007)
feet of overburden
Simplified Bentonite Mill

(WMA Minelife, 2007)

World Reserves and
Production Statistics
 Reserves of all
clays used by man
are extremely
large, and are
thought to be
inexhaustible on
human timescales
 As a result, no
measurements of
world reserves have
been performed
 It is still a very
lucrative sector. US (Numbers are in thousands of metric tons)
production in 2005
2007) to 42
million tons worth
Worldwide Distribution

(Mindat 2007)
End Use Statistics
(USGS 2005)
Works Cited
 Industrial Minerals Association of North America,,
(Accessed March 23, 2007).
 Kansas State Geological Survey,,
(Accessed March 27, 2007).
 Mindat,, (Accessed March 27, 2007).
MiningLife Media,,
(Accessed March 25, 2007).
 WMA-Minelife,
, (Accessed March 27, 2007).
 Wyoming State Geological Survey,, (Accessed March 27,
 USGS,, (Accessed
March 27, 2007).
 USGS, 2005, Bentonite statistics, in Kelly, T.D., and Matos, G.R.,comps., Historical statistics
for mineral and material commodities in the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series
140, available online at . (Accessed March 27, 2007.)