Unveiling the Essential Roles of Bauxite: Diverse Applications and Practical Examples

Bauxite may not be a resource that receives much attention, but it contributes to many aspects of daily life and work. What is bauxite used for? Bauxite ore is the world’s primary source of aluminum production.

With aluminum appearing in products ranging from airplane parts to beverage cans, many manufacturing markets need a steady source of this metal. Bauxite ore can deliver on these needs. It is also a key component of cement, food additives, and glass. 

How Bauxite Becomes Aluminum

To understand what bauxite is used for and how it becomes aluminum, start by looking at the composition of bauxite. Some of the compounds found in bauxite include:

  • Aluminum oxide
  • Iron oxide
  • Silica
  • Titanium dioxide

Aluminum oxide, or alumina, is the primary component of bauxite. Processors remove the impurities from the bauxite ore through bauxite beneficiation and separate the aluminum.

Ore washing is a standard means of performing bauxite beneficiation, as it represents the most effective means of obtaining the highest level of aluminum-silicon concentrates. Acid leaching and filtration are common methods to separate aluminum and silicon.

Uses for Alumina From Bauxite

Eventually, the bauxite processing results in alumina. It then undergoes a smelting process to become a metal. Some of the leading products that include aluminum metal include:

  • Beverage cans
  • Beer kegs
  • Furniture
  • Picture frames
  • Cooking utensils
  • Window frames
  • Airplane parts
  • Cooking foil
  • Car parts
  • Roofing panels
  • Roof flashing

Some manufacturers mix aluminum powder with other metals to create alloys. Such alloys can appear in cosmetics, deodorants, toothpaste, and antacids. 

Aluminum appears in some food additives, usually to improve the texture or taste of certain foods. Some local governments add non-toxic alum, which is aluminum sulfate, to drinking water and lake water to improve water clarity.

Other Uses for Bauxite

Beyond aluminum production, bauxite is a source of minerals used to manufacture other everyday products. 

  • Cement: When manufacturers include bauxite in cement formulations, it delivers improved water resistance for the hardened material, which prevents premature crumbling. Bauxite has calcium carbonate that improves the durability of cement, too.
  • Fertilizer: Because bauxite contains a significant amount of calcium, fertilizer manufacturers will use it to provide this vital mineral for plant growth. Magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, and potassium also appear in bauxite, further aiding plant health.
  • Glass: Bauxite ore is common in window glass because of aluminum oxide. Bauxite sometimes appears in enamels, too.
  • Paint: The alumina from bauxite processing can improve the texture and color of certain kinds of paint.

History of Bauxite

Learning what bauxite is used for is easier when you understand the discovery of bauxite. More than 200 years ago, French geologist Pierre Bertheir worked in Les Baux-de-Provence, a village in southern France. He discovered a reddish brown rock that contained alumina, calling it bauxite to honor the location of its discovery.

Mining of bauxite deposits occurs throughout the world but primarily in Australia, Brazil, China, and India. Strip mining is the most common means of obtaining bauxite ore. Afterward, miners can replace the topsoil because of the mining process. This process returns much of the mined land to its original appearance.

SteqTech Can Help With Bauxite Processing

When you need a solution that delivers reduced costs and better energy efficiency with your bauxite processing, ST Equipment & Technology (STET) can help. Our bauxite processing equipment also improves the overall quality of the output material. 

We have over 25 years of experience and a track record of success in helping customers with equipment to extract valuable products, like aluminum ore from bauxite. When you understand what bauxite is used for, you know the importance of having the right equipment to do the job cost-effectively. 

To learn more about our bauxite production options, contact STET today.