Mineral sand deposits contain a concentrated amount of economically important minerals known as heavy minerals, which are much heavier than common sand minerals.
Mineral sands typically comprise zircon, rutile, leucoxene, ilmenite, monazite and xenotime, which are commonly found together as coarse and fine grain sands.
Originally formed as crystals in igneous rocks, such as granite, basalt and some metamorphic rocks, these minerals were eroded by wind, rain and rivers over millions of years. The resulting grains washed down to the sea to become part of the coastal sands of ancient beaches.
Tidal movements washed away the lighter mineral sand grains, such as quartz sands, leaving the heavier mineral sands on beachlines. As the world’s oceans subsided, the deposits were left exposed which is why they are now often found more than 100 kilometres from modern day beaches.
The natural weathering process formed the two main types of mineral sands deposits that exist today.
Coarser sands that remained on shorelines, due to their larger size are often referred to as strandline deposits, whereas finer mineral sands, which typically settled in the basin of the ocean, are referred to as WIM-style (Wimmera Industrial Minerals) or offshore deposits. WIM-style deposits are generally larger overall than strandline deposits.
The Murray Basin, which covers parts of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, is an ideal location for this weathering process. Home to an ancient sea during the Cenozoic Era (up to 66 million years ago), large deposits of heavy mineral sands formed when heavy minerals entered the Murray Basin through river systems.
For more information, please read the Mineral Council of Australia fact sheet found here.
How are mineral sands mined?
Mineral sands can be extracted by either dry mining or wet mining techniques.
Wet mining involves dredging the ore from a pond, whereas dry mining uses traditional earthmoving equipment such as dozers and trucks.
RZ Resources will employ wet mining techniques due to the abundance of highly saline water in the area.
What are mineral sands used for?
Mineral sands are vital and valuable natural resources which supply raw titanium materials for the manufacturing of titanium oxide pigments and metal.
Mineral sands also includes zircon, which has many uses including the production of tiles, bathware, crockery and ceramics.
RZ RESOURCES LIMITED
Australian owned – established 2012
Mineral Sands – from deposits in the North Murray Basin (NSW)
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