Feldspar is commonly used to make dinnerware and tiles, but crafters also use Feldspar as a flux for glass production and ceramics. Feldspar works well as a flux material to lower the melting temperature of another material. In 2022, the Feldspar mining market is expected to each up to two billion dollars due to the growing demand for mining, improving technologies, and emerging markets. However, the production of Feldspar does face obstacles such as worker safety and industry regulations.
What Is Feldspar?
Feldspar is actually a group of minerals containing alumina and silica, including aluminum silicates of lime, soda, or potassium. Feldspar is the single most abundant mineral group on Earth, accounting for approximately 60% of soils, clays, and exposed rocks, and makes up principal components in rock classification schemes.
History Of Feldspar Mining
Mining history for Feldspar dates back to 1874, when General George Armstrong Custer led an expedition into the Dakota Territory. In the Black Hills, General Custer and the 7th Calvary discovered gold as they were camping next to a small stream. Here the mining town of Custer, South Dakota, began, and in 1928 the first Feldspar milling operation opened for business. Now, high-quality Feldspar is still being produced from the rich ore deposits and pegmatite of the Black Hills mines and many states across the country.
How Feldspar Is Mined
Feldspar is mined from massive bodies of granite, sands, and pegmatites. Pegmatites are formed during the final fluid stages of crystallizing granite. The granite becomes concentrated in small vapor-rich pockets and liquid that promote the growth of very large crystals.
Because Feldspar is a significant component of the Earth's crust, its supply is more than adequate to meet demand. Hard-rock mining of Feldspars is primarily done by open-pit methods by contractors and mine owners. Once the Feldspar ore is drilled and blasted, it undergoes a secondary breakage with a conventional drop ball. The ore is then loaded onto trucks using hydraulic shovels and hauled to a crushing plant that is usually located next to the flotation plant.
Substitutes For Feldspar
Even though Feldspar is a primary material used in high-end glass making and ceramics, it can be substituted with alternative sources. Minerals that can be replaced for Feldspar include clays, pyrophyllite, talc, and quartz mixtures. However, the abundance of Feldspar makes substitutions unnecessary for crafters for the foreseeable future. When working with pottery and glass, Feldspar is still one of the best choices of materials.
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