Boron is an element that is widely present on the earth in soil, rocks and water. Boron content of soil is 10-20 ppm (parts per million) in average with an apparent high concentration in western areas of the States and throughout the region spanning from Mediterranean to Kazakhstan. Boron concentration is 0.5-9.6 ppm in sea water, and 0.01-1.5 ppm in fresh water. Boron deposits with high concentration and economical value are mainly found in the form of boron compounds bound with oxygen in Turkey and in arid, volcanic and highly hydrothermal regions of U.S.
Boron Reserves Around the Globe
The most critical boron deposits around the globe are in Turkey, Russia and USA. Commercial boron reserves worldwide are concentrated in 4 regions. These are; “Mojave Desert” to the south of California, USA, “Andean Zone” in North America, “South-Middle East Orogenic Zone” covering Turkey, and Eastern Russia. Data from different sources reveal that reserve distribution of boron deposits with significant boron reserves other than Turkey are as follows:
Boron (Cramer) Deposits, North America: The total reserve of the deposit mined by the company Rio Tinto by open cast method is, according to the company's annual report data for 2012, 26 million tonnes (B2O3).
Fort Cady Calcium Boron Deposit, Mojave Desert, California: The deposit is mined by Fort Cady Minerals by solution mining. Due to the fact that the deposit is deep-seated (~410 m) and off-grade, it is both costly and challenging to mine and process. There is currently no active mining in the deposit.
Death Valley, Boron Deposits/Billie Mine: The deposit mined by the underground cast method accommodates colemanite, ulexite and probertite. However, there is currently no active mining in the deposit.
Serbia: The Jadar Bor Basin was discovered by the company Rio Tinto in 2004, and then the company acquired the mining right for the basin in 2005. The basin hosts a Li2O content of 1.8% and B2O3 content of 13.1%. The deposit is made up of colemanite and jadar minerals.
Rio Tinto's annual report for 2012 reports that estimated possible reserve of the basin is 19 million tonnes (B2O3).
It is estimated that, the Piskanja boron deposit within the Jarandol Basin to the south of Serbia co-developed by Canada's Erin Ventures and Serbia's JP PEU accommodates a reserve of 7.5 million tons, and the Pobrdje deposit accommodates a reserve of 250,000 tons with a valuable B2O3 content of 36.39%. Colemanite, ulexite and howlite (calcium borosilicate hydroxide - Ca2B5SiO9(OH)5) are the mostly found minerals. The company announced that the groundwork was completed in January 2013 and proceeded with licensing.
Boron Deposits in South America: The most remarkable feature of these deposits is that they are composed of small reserves scattered over a very wide area. Another important feature is the limited process time due to the deposits' location at high elevations (>4000 m) on Andes Mountains. In addition, the ores are generally low grade. A large part of South American deposits is composed of ulexite (sodium calcium borate base).
Tincalayu, Argentina: According to the 2007 data, the deposit hosts 300 thousand tonnes of tincal and kernite reserves (B2O3 ). The depth has a width of 1,500m, length of 500m and depth of 100m. Primary boron minerals of the reserve are tincal, ulexite, colemanite and kernite.
Rio Tinto's annual report for 2012 reveals that the output (B2O3) of the deposit is 18 thousand tons in 2010, 18 thousand tons in 2011 and 9 thousand tons in 2012.
Salar de Surire Boron Ore Deposit, Chile: Located at an altitude of 4,050m in Arica, Chile, the site is one of the biggest ulexite deposits of the world with its huge run-of-mine reserve of 1.5 billion tons (30 million tons for B2O3). This deposit is mined by QuiBorax with key focus in boric acid production.
Salar de Carcote and Salar de Ascotan, North Chile: Mined by SQM Salar, Salar de Corcete and Salar de Ascotan hosts an ulexite reserve of 7 million tons (B2O3).
Asian Boron Deposits: Boron reserves in Asian countries are generally made up of magnesium borate (Ascharite) and tincal and borosilicate in limited coverage. Generally, these ores are low grade and their composition leads to technological challenges in refined product production. Ascharite is mainly found in China and Kazakhstan with an average B2O3 grade of 8-10%. Despite broad natural boron deposits in China, B2O3 grades are below 12% for more than 90% of the deposits.
Chinese boron deposits are predominantly found in the Liaoning and Jilin regions. These are primarily ascharite based metamorphic deposits with magnesium borate content. Boron resources of Qinghai nearby the Qinghai-Tivet plateau are ulexite, hydroboracite and borax. Metamorphic and sedimentary deposits of China are of low-grade with high purity. It is reported that ascharite deposits in Liaoning are depleted very fast.
As Qinghai (China) boron deposits are located at an elevation of 4000 meters and contain inter-related mineral groups (boron, lithium and potassium), they are similar to the boron deposits in North America.
The Jammu and Kashmir region of India host a boron reserve of 74,204 tonnes. Moreover, there are boron formations reported in the Surendangener region as well as Gujarat and Nagaur regions (at the border-district). 0.5%-grade borax is found in Sampar Lake (Rajastjhan) of the Jaipur region.
Russian Boron Deposits: The most prominent boron deposit of Russia is Dalnegorsk (Russia), also one of the three known major datolite boron deposits of the globe with an average B2O3grade of 9-10% B2O3 , and a total reserve of 230,000,000 tonnes.
To summarize, Turkey is ranked top with its share of almost 73% in the global boron reserve standing. Given total boron reserve worldwide and current consumption, it may be argued that the world will suffer no paucity of boron ores for a long time.
Distribution of Boron Reserves Around the Globe (2012)
Boron Reserves in Turkey
Known boron deposits in Turkey are primarily found in Kırka/Eskişehir, Bigadiç/Balıkesir, Kestelek/Bursa and Emet/Kütahya. The most common boron ores reserve in Turkey are tincal (Na2O.2B2O3.10H2O) and colemanite (2CaO.3B2O3.5H2O). Major important tincal deposits of Turkey are found in Kırka, and major colemanite deposits are around Emet and Bigadiç. Additionally, a small ulexite reserve is found in Bigadiç and we sometimes see ulexite yield as a byproduct in Kestelek.
Distribution of Boron Reserves in Turkey (by Mineral - 2012)
Eti Maden's Report for Boron Industry (2012)
Eti Maden's Strategic Plan ( 2009-2013)