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1 - Yellowstone mine in Montana - USA - a magnesium carbonate derivative orebody
The talc results from the transformation of carbonates (dolomite and magnesite) in the presence of silica. The carbonates fix in-situ the magnesium needed to form the mineral, whereas the silica is provided by hydrothermal circulation. This reaction results in a talc which, depending on the composition of the parent rock, is either mineralogically pure or associated with minerals such as carbonates (both residual and reactional), quartz and chlorite. Deposits of this kind represent some 60% of world talc extraction and provide some of the whitest and purest talc ores. Our Yellowstone mine in Montana, USA, yields this type of talc.
2 - Argonaut mine in Vermont - USA - a serpentinite derivative orebody
About 20% of present world production comes from the transformation of serpentinite into a mixture of talc and reactional magnesium carbonates. This ore, commonly called "soapstone", is always grey and never pure. To be used as an industrial mineral, it is often upgraded by flotation to increase the talc content and whiteness. This type of deposit is relatively common and widely distributed along ultra-mafic rock belts. Our deposit in Vermont USA is a serpentinite derivative orebody.
3 - Trimouns mine, France - a silico-aluminious rock derivative orebody
Here, talc results from the transformation of siliceous rocks such as quartzite, which provide the silica needed for the mineral's formation. Magnesium is brought by the migration of hydrothermal fluids. If the parent rock has a silico-aluminous composition, e.g. pelitic schist or gneiss, chlorite can be formed in addition to the talc, the resulting ore being a mixture of both talc and chlorite. This type of deposit can be found in association with the magnesium-carbonate derivative type, as is the case of our Trimouns mine in the French Pyrenees. This kind of deposit represents about 10% of world production.
Talc is one of the common minerals in metamorphic rock. Although talc deposits can be found throughout the world in various geological contexts, economically viable concentrations of talc are not that common.
Talc deposits result from the transformation of existing rocks under the effect of hydrothermal fluids carrying one or several of the components needed to form the mineral MgO, SiO2, CO2. Tectonics plays a major role in the genesis of a talc deposit. It enables hydrothermal fluids to penetrate the rock, creating a micro-permeability that facilitates reactions in the mass. The size and shape of talc deposits depend upon the intensity of this hydrothermal activity which corresponds to the climate of a low temperature metamorphism. Pressure and deformations, both concurrent with and subsequent to this transformation, determine the crystallinity of the talc ore in the deposit. Talc deposits differ according to the parent rock from which they are derived.
There are four main categories of talc deposit: magnesium carbonate; serpentinite; silico-aluminous; and magnesium sedimentary orebodies - the last of these are not economically viable. These deposits yield a wide variety of ores that differ in terms of:
These three parameters govern the specific nature of each commercial talc grade and what it will be used for.