Magnesium: Environmental Metal of the Future

The ultra lightweight metal magnesium is under considerable research at present with the aim to create lighter and therefore less energy consumptive airplanes and cars. About 30% of the magnesium needed every year is mined. The rest needs to be mined. Think about that the next time you pop your vitamins! Making lighter vehicles will be new for the metal which is currently has the following primary uses:

Products and uses

Used as a filler in plastics and paints and as an agricultural fertiliser.

Caustic calcined magnesia (caustic magnesia)
Formed by calcining magnesite at 700–1000ºC to produce a form of magnesia with high specific surface area and high reactivity.

Variety of applications including:

  • Animal feeds and fertilisers
  • Magnesia cements, flooring compounds and other building materials
  • Environmental (water and effluent treatment, and flue gas desulphurisation)
  • Metallurgical flux
  • Flame retardants
  • Source of magnesium chemicals for industries, including the pharmaceutical industry.

Dead burned magnesia (a sintered magnesia)
Formed when magnesia is calcined at temperatures of 1600–2000ºC. Main use is in heat resistant linings.

Electrofused magnesia
A strong, abrasion-resistant material used in premium grade refractories and ceramics.

Magnesium metal
Can be produced from magnesite by electolysis of magnesium chloride. World production of magnesium metal in 2006 was estimated at 726 000t.

A strong lightweight metal used in the automotive industry. Predictions for strong growth in demand in has resulted in feasibility studies for magnesium production in many parts of the world, including South Australia.

SAMAG Ltd invstigated magnesite deposits northwest of Leigh Creek as possible feedstock for a proposed magnesium metal production facility in the upper Spencer Gulf region (Horn, 2000).