Boron is an indispensable element, mostly found in soil, water and rocks across the globe. The average soil boron concentration is in the range of 10 to 20 ppm, however most of the areas across the globe is boron deficient. High concentration of boron in soil has found in western part of the U.S. and area in between Mediterranean to Kazakhstan. The average sew water boron concentration is ranges from 0.5 to 9.0 ppm, while fresh water has very low boron concentration. Highly concentrated and economically feasible boron sources are generally found in the in arid areas with a history of volcanism or hydrothermal activities such as Turkey and United States. Open-pit mining method is used to mine large deposits of high grade beds of crude borax at the Kramer deposit in California and the Kirka deposit in Ankara, Turkey.
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Boron minerals concentrates and chemicals are commercially produced and consumed worldwide. Borax pentahydrate, Borax (tincal), Colemanite, Ulexite, Boric Acid and Anhydrous borax are the important boron minerals and chemicals which widely used by chemical industry to manufacture variety of products such as detergents and laundry bleaches, glass, adhesives, agrochemicals and fire retardants among others. Boron is an essential element for plants, which help the transfer of sugar from leaves to reproductive system, and enable pollination and seed development. Boron minerals has found great application in manufacturing variety of glass such as borosilicate glass, insulation fiberglass, textile fiberglass, enamels and glazes. Borosilicate glass has more thermal shock resistance due to the presence of boron trioxide which lowers the expansion coefficient. In fiberglass, boric acid offers desirable quality drawing and improves its mechanical and chemical properties such as strength and durability. Boron is also used to treat wood, in order to protect it against delay by white/brown rots. Boron exhibits excellent metal oxide stabilizing ability and used in welding rods and fluxes. Boric acid, borates and tetraborates are widely used by pharmaceuticals industries to manufacture personal care products such as bath products, oral hygiene products and talc.
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Glass and ceramic and chemicals are two industries which accounts for major consumption of boron minerals and its compounds. Recovering construction industry especially after financial downturn in North America and Western Europe is expected to drive demand for boron composite fiberglass. Agriculture is an essential need of a community and agriculture industry is expected to grow linear with growth in population. Growing demand for reinforced materials especially in Asia Pacific will drive the consumption of boron compounds. Value added application of boron compounds in alloy and metal industry is expected to drive overall consumption of boron minerals and its compounds at steady rate. However growing regulations over use of boron in personal care products may restrain the consumption of boron and its compounds.
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