• Definition:
– Minerals with micaceous morphology commonly formed by the alteration of biotite and Iron-bearing phlogopite. – Supergene alteration product formed by the combined effects of weathering and circulating groundwater. – (Mg,Ca,K,Fe2+)3 (Si,AL,Fe3+)4O10(OH)2O4H2O, Hydrated Magnesium Iron Aluminum Silicate Hydroxide

Vermiculite - Class
• Class: Silicates

• Subclass: Phylosilicates

(The Sheet Structures)

• Groups: The Clays and the

Monmorillonite / Smectite Group

(It is sometimes put in the Mica group but recent analysis has excluded it from that group)

Vermiculite- Physical Characteristics
• Color: Brown to golden brown, can also be
white, colorless, or yellow Pearly to greasy • Luster: • Transparency: Translucent crystals • Cleavage: Perfect in one direction • Fracture: Uneven to lamellar • Hardness: About 1.5, which can sometimes leave marks on paper • Specific Gravity: 2.3-2.5 • Streak: white • Crystal System: monoclinic, 2/m
(Hindman, 2006)

Vermiculite- Physical Characteristics
• Crystal Habit: Pseudohexagonal tabular
crystals (“books”), also compact or lamellar masses or microscopic crystals • Other Characteristics: When heated, crystals expand to many times their original volume. • Sintering temperature: 1260 Degrees C • Melting Point: 1330 Degrees C • Specific Heat: 1.8 kJ/kg.K. • pH value: 8.0-9.5 • Thermal Conductivity: 0.0620.0656W/mK

Vermiculite- Associated Minerals
• Corundum • Apatite • Serpentine • Talc • Stellerite • Biotite • Other clay minerals

Vermiculite- Physical Characteristics
• There are water molecules within
the internal structure of vermiculite, that when it is heated to high temperatures, the water transforms to steam, causing the particles to increase in volume. • The thermal exfoliation increases the volume usually 10 to 20 times

(Hindman., 2006)


Typical Chemical

(Hindman., 2006)

Vermiculite- Uses
• It is used in three primary forms:
– – – Untreated Concentrate Thermally Exfoliated The ground products of chemical or thermal exfoliation
Vermiculite: Unexpanded, Expanded and a Single Particle

Vermiculite- Uses (continued)
• Acoustic finishes • Air setting binder • Board • Fire protection (internal/external) • Floor & roof screeds (lightweight • Insulating concrete) • Gypsum plaster • Loft insulation • Sound deadening compounds (Kogel et al, 2006)

Vermiculite- Uses (continued) • HORTICULTURAL
• • • • • • • • •
Blocking mixes Hydroponics Micro-propagation Potting mixes Rooting cuttings Seed germination Seedling wedge mix Sowing composts Twin scaling bulbs (Kogel et al, 2006)

Vermiculite- Uses (continued)
• Animal feed • Anti-caking material • Bulking agent • Fertilizer • Pesticide • Seed encapsulant • Soil conditioner (Kogel et al, 2006)

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Vermiculite- Uses (continued)
Absorbent packing Brake pads & brake shoes Castables Dispersions Drilling muds Filtration Fireproof safes Fixation of hazardous material Furnaces Insulation blocks & shapes Insulation - high & low temperature Molten metal insulation Molded products Nuclear waste disposal Paints Perfume absorbent Sealants (Kogel et al, 2006)

Exfoliated Vermiculite is great for thermal insulation and can withstand temperatures over 1000 degrees Celsius. Vermiculite is easy and clean to handle, odorless, sound absorbent, non-abrasive, and will not decay. Vermiculite is used as a packing material because it is lightweight , it can form around objects, it takes shock well, it can absorb leaks, and it is not a fire hazard. Vermiculite of medium grade will improve drainage when added to heavy soils. Fine grade mixed with peat is a great compost for growing seeds. Vermiculite also helps fertilizers release more nutrients which is more economical and efficient. Vermiculite is also used in the friction industry.

Vermiculite- U.S. Occurrences

(Hindman, 2006)

Vermiculite- World Occurrences

(Hindman, 2006)

Vermiculite- Production

Vermiculite- U.S. Production and Trade

(Hindman, 2006)

Vermiculite- Processing

(Hindman, 2006)

Vermiculite- Production
Mining Concentrate Drying Ore Transport Concentrate Classifying Ore Storage Concentrate Storage Ore Screening Exfoliating Ore Storage Product Classifying Ore Blending Wet Processing Product Storage
Most unexfoliated ore (640- 1,120 kg/m3) is shipped in 100-ton hopper railcars in the U.S. and Canada from the mills to the exfoliation plants. Shipping in 10 to 20 ton trucks is becoming

Concentrate Crushing

Product Grinding

ttp:// Kogel et al., 2006)

Vertical furnace: Rotary drum furnace: (Hindman, 2006)used outside North used in United States (Picured below) America

Vermiculite- Exfoliation

Principle of the Pipe-Exfoliation 1: unit of dosage 2: heating pipe 3: deflection plates 4: radiation elements 5: cooling system



TABLE 2 ACTIVE VERMICULITE EXFOLIATION PLANTS IN THE UNITED STATE IN 2005 Company   County  State Isolatek International, Inc.  Sussex   New Jersey. J.P. Austin Associates, Inc.  Beaver   Pennsylvania. Palmetto Vermiculite Co., Inc. Spartanburg South Carolina. P.V.P. Industries, Inc.   Trumbull Ohio. Schundler Co., The   Middlesex New Jersey. Southwest Vermiculite Co., Inc. Bernalillo New Mexico. Sun Gro Horticulture, Inc.  Jefferson Arkansas. Do.   La Salle   Illinois. Thermal Ceramics Inc.   Macoupin Do. Thermo-O-Rock East, Inc.  Washington Pennsylvania. Thermo-O-Rock West, Inc.  Maricopa Arizona. Verlite Co.   Hillsborough Florida. Vermiculite Industrial Corp. Allegheny Pennsylvania. Whittemore Co., Inc.   Essex   Massachusetts. W.R. Grace & Co.   Maricopa Arizona. Do.   Broward Florida. Do.   Greenville South Carolina.

TABLE 3 ESTIMATED EXFOLIATED VERMICULITE SOLD OR USED IN THE UNITED STATES, BY END USE 1 (Metric tons)     2004   2005   Aggregates2 24,300 22,300 Insulation3 W   W   Agricultural: Horticultural 22,200 24,600 Soil conditioning 22,800 W Fertilizer carrier W   W   Total W W Other4 9,830   12,500   Grand total5   90,000   85,000   W Withheld to avoid disclosing company proprietary data; included in "Grand total." 1Data rounded to no more than three significant digits; may not add to totals shown. 2Includes concrete, plaster, and premixes (acoustic insulation, fireproofing, and texturizing uses). 3Includes loose-fill, block, and other (high-temperature and packing insulation and sealants). 4Includes various industrial and other uses not specified.

Vermiculite- Geologic description • Most mines today are deposits

that were formed in the preCambrian and Archean (1.5-3.0 billion years ago).
– – – Palabora region, South Africa Northwestern corners of China Eastern Appalachian range in U.S. (Virginia and South Carolina)

• Younger deposits are Triassic in
age (225million years ago)
– Libby, Montana deposit
(Kogel et al., 2006)

Vermiculite- Geologic description
• The formation of vermiculite is

basically the supergene alteration of biotite at near surface conditions.


• When biotite turns into vermiculite,
(Hindman, 2006)

there is a 10% to 40% volume increase of particle size. • It will not form as a primary mineral, and it is not stable under hydrothermal conditions.
(Roy and Romo, 1957)

Vermiculite- Exploration
• Near surface • Large grain size for commercial

criteria-look at structures that contain large biotite crystals • Ultramafic intrusives: Coarsegrained pyroxenites; metamorphic bodies with biotite schists and gneisses.
(Hindman, 2006)

Vermiculite- Exploration
Bush (1976): Three Classes Type 1 deposits: in large ultramafic intrusions such as pyroxenite. These are often zoned. (Libby, Montana and
Phalaborwa, Republic of South Africa)

Borovikov (1962): Four Groups Group 1: deposits in ultrabasic and alkaline rock complexes.
(Major deposits at Kovdor and Buldym in Russia.)

Type 2 deposits: formed in smaller ultramafic intrusions (dunite, peridotite, and unzoned pyroxenite).
(North Carolina)

Group 2: deposits in altered carbonate rock. Group 3: occurrences in reaction zones of pegmatites, talc, corundum, asbestos, and other deposits, and also in metasomatic veins in serpentines. Group 4: deposits and occurrences in micaceous

Type 3 deposits: formed from metamorphic rocks (biotite schists and amphibole schists). (Enoree,
South Carolina; Elk Gulch, Montana; most deposits in Colorado, Nevada, Texas, and Wyoming.)

Vermiculite- Health Risks?
• There are no health risks known for
general handling and exposure to vermiculite. • Vermiculite was found with the asbestiform amphibole minerals of the Rainy Creek vermiculite ore body near Libby, Montana. Health issues associated with the asbestos and former mine workers resulted in shutting the Libby mine down (19211990).
(Hindman, 2006)

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Bush. 1976. Vermiculite in the United States. Pages 146-155 in 11th Industrial Minerals Forum. Special Publication 74. Montana Bureau of Mines. Borovikov, P.P. 1962. Genetic types, conditions of formation and economic evaluation of vermiculite deposits. Pages 139-176 in Perlite and Vermiculite (Geology, Exploration and Production Technology.) Edited by V.Kh. Daragan. Translated from Russian. New Delhi: Indian National scientific Documentation Centre. Conrad Fafard, Inc. (accessed March 26, 2007) Hoben International. (accessed March 2, 2007) Hindman, James R. 2006. Vermiculite: Industrial Minerals and Rocks: Commodities, Markets, and Uses. Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc. K’s Chimney. (accessed February 28, 2007 Kogel, Jessica E., Trividi, Nikhil C., Barker, James M., and Krukowski, Stanley T. 2006. Industrial Minerals and Rocks: Commodities, Markets, and Uses. Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc. Potter, M. J., 2007. U. S. Geological Survey Minerals Yearbook-2005: U. S. Department of the Interior. (accessed February 13, 2007) Roy, R., and L.A. Romo. 1957. Weathering studies. 1. New data on vermiculite. Journal of Geology 65:603-610. Vermiculite Home Page for Information about Vermiculite---A Mineral with Many Uses: Naturally Occuring, Safe, and Plentiful. (accessed February 13, 2007) The Vermiculite Association. (accessed February 13, 2007) Vermiculite (Hydrated Magnesium Iron Aluminum Silicate Hydroxide). (accessed February 26, 2007) Yanxi Minerals Co. Ltd. (accessed March 2, 2007) 77 Hydro. (accessed February 28, 2007)