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Bentonite Processing

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Bentonite production in the world

Bentonite and bentonite Fuller’s earth are mined worldwide. The USA is the major producer of bentonite Fuller’s earth . Approximately 90% of world bentonite production is concentrated in 13 countries: the USA, Greece, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, South Africa, and Australia . The USA, Greece, and the Commonwealth of Independent States account for roughly 55% of the annual world production of 10 million tonnes. Wyoming produces the bulk of bentonite mined in the USA (Ampian, 1985). In 2002, the bulk of US production was used domestically, and only a small fraction, 11%, was exported worldwide. In addition to the mining of natural deposits, small amounts of bentonite, are produced synthetically in both Europe and the USA for use as a catalyst.


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Most bentonite is mined by stripping methods from open pits after removing any overburden, although underground methods are used in a few places, such as the Combe Hay district in the United Kingdom . Since deposits are often not uniform in composition, bentonite from a single pit may be separated into several stockpiles, which subsequently are blended to obtain the desired composition. Bentonite is usually processed by breaking large pieces into smaller fragments, drying at low to moderate temperatures to remove water and other volatiles without altering the molecular structure of the bentonite, and grinding to the desired size. The desired size is generally 200 mesh or finer, which is equivalent to particle diameters of less than 70 µm. A coarser granular material is also produced for kitty litter applications. Processing may also include beneficiation, which may involve removing sand and other impurities as well as modifying the type of exchangeable ions in the crystal lattice.