Magnesium, a key industrial metal, can be recovered from a range of different host materials, with magnesite being just one key source of magnesium compounds.
The US Geological Survey estimates that worldwide magnesite and brucite resources stand at 12 billion metric tons (MT) and several million MT, respectively, while resources for dolomite, forsterite and magnesite-bearing evaporite minerals are estimated to have resources of billions of tons.
The US Geological Survey also looks specifically at magnesite production and reserves, noting that worldwide production reached 26 million MT in 2020, with reserves sitting at 7.6 billion MT. But what are the top countries for magnesite mining? Here’s a look at the nations that made the list.
Mine production: 18 million MT
China is the world’s top country for magnesite mining by far, accounting for roughly 66 percent of global output. The country’s production decreased slightly last year compared to 19 million MT in 2019. The Asian nation is imposing stricter laws in favor of reducing pollution; that said, more production at the Qinghai Salt Lake smelter plant could counterbalance any reductions.
Prices for magnesium increased marginally last year due to higher demand from the auto industry. In the years to come, prices could also be favorably affected by a dip in supply from China.
Mine production: 1.5 million MT
Russia shares second place with Brazil. Production from magnesite mining in Russia has stayed flat in recent years. New capacity is expected to come online in the country in the future.
In 2020, Russian Mining Chemical Company (RMCC), a private brucite producer, completed the first stage of development of one of the world’s largest deposits of brucite, located in the Russian Far East. The deposit hosts preliminary estimated reserves of around 25 million MT of brucite. RMCC plans to start production in 2025.
Mine production: 1.5 million MT
Like Russia, Brazil’s magnesite production has remained flat in recent years, although it has increased by 400,000 MT since 2016. This rise is largely due to the 2017 merger of RHI of Austria and Magnesita Refratários of Brazil to form RHI Magnesita, which then became the world’s largest refractories producer.
Following the merger, RHI Magnesita made its first significant new investment in 2019 of US$92 million. The company is reported to own the largest magnesite reserve outside of China.
Mine production: 1.1 million MT
Next up on this list of top countries for magnesite mining is Turkey, whose magnesite output came to 1.1 million MT in 2020; that’s 400,000 MT fewer than it produced in 2019. Magnesite production in the country has significantly decreased in recent years, falling from 2.7 million MT in 2017.
According to Industrial Minerals, Turkey has a long history of magnesite mining, both for export and for use at domestic refractories. Akdeniz Mineral Resources, a joint venture with private company Grecian Magnesite, is a large producer and exporter of caustic calcined magnesite products in Turkey.
The company recently completed the construction of a new magnesite processing line, and commercial production commenced in Q4 2020.
Mine production: 760,000 MT
Austria saw a slight decrease in magnesite mining in 2020, putting out 760,000 MT compared to 780,000 MT in 2019. Austrian magnesite producer Styromag operates five mines in the country; it produces roughly 120,000 MT of material per year.
Mine production: 600,000 MT
Spain’s magnesite output has doubled in the past four years, coming in at 600,000 MT in 2020 compared to 300,000 MT in 2016. Spain’s Magnesitas Navarras is a leading European magnesia producer.
Mine production: 500,000 MT
Greece produced 500,000 MT of magnesite in 2020, a decrease of 30,000 MT from the year before. The country is home to one of the top magnesia producers in the world, Grecian Magnesite, which has facilities in Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands. Greece’s magnesite mines and production facilities are located in the Chalkidiki peninsula in Northern Greece.
Mine production: 460,000 MT
Slovakia produced 460,000 MT of magnesite in 2020, a slight decrease of 15,000 MT versus what it produced a year earlier. Slovakian producer SLOVMAG is majority owned by Russia’s Magnezit Group. It specializes in mining magnesite ore and producing refractory products from sintered magnesia.
Mine production: 310,000 MT
Australia recorded a slight decrease in magnesite-mining output in 2020 — its production fell to 310,000 MT from 320,000 MT the previous year.
Queensland Magnesium is responsible for the bulk of Australia’s magnesite production. Some examples of magnesite-focused junior mining companies operating in Australia include Korab Resources (ASX:KOR) and Volatus Capital (CSE:VC).
Mine production: 150,000 MT
Rounding out the list, India put out 150,000 MT of magnesite in 2020, on par with the previous year. The state of Tamil Nadu is responsible for three-quarters of the country’s magnesite production, with the state of Uttarakhand representing nearly all of the remaining quarter.
Looking forward, Statista estimates that approximately 286 million rupees worth of magnesite will produced in India for 2021.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
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