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  • Imerys posts strong 2014 results, commit to pursuing growth in new areas

    Friday, 13 February 2015

    As the world’s largest and most diverse industrial minerals producer, Imerys’s results are always a good litmus test for the industry. These are strong results, and indicate that demand is returning to traditional markets, but the company continues to innovate and expand into novel sectors despite several headwinds.

  • Martin Marietta posts growth in FY2014 in magnesia, look to strong 2015

    Tuesday, 10 February 2015

    Martin Marietta’s speciality materials business arm, which encompasses its magnesia business, only accounts for 9% of its revenue stream. However, the company is the largest producer of dolomitic lime in the country and of synthetic magnesia in North America.

  • Slovmag to supply refractories linings to Serbian copper smelter

    Friday, 06 February 2015

    This is the latest in a suite of agreements that Magnezit has signed which underline its commitment to expanding its reach outside of its operating countries.

  • Obama administration ups USGS budget as demand returns

    Friday, 06 February 2015

    The latest set of figures released from the USGS underpins the different trends in mining across the world, as well as in the US. Obama’s pledge to increase the budget for 2016 in an election year perhaps indicates that mining will form a bigger part of political manifestos going forward.

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  • Magnesia: Year in Review 2014

    Wednesday, 31 December 2014

    It has been a year of ups and downs for the magnesia industry as demand has waned and supply has remained robust.

  • Lessons from 100 years of mineral data

    Wednesday, 31 December 2014

    With the recent publication of data for 2012, the British Geological Survey (BGS) has 100 years of continuous mineral production data - but what do they tell us about worldwide industrial mineral production? Teresa Brown analyses some of these trends and what they say about the industry as a whole.

  • Australia: End of the mining gloom?

    Wednesday, 26 November 2014

    The downturn of the global “commodities supercyle” and slowing raw material demand in China has been felt keenly in Australia’s resources sector. But while proponents of Australian mining admit the industry isn’t quite as mighty as it used to be, they say that there are still plenty of reasons to be positive Down Under, Siobhan Lismore-Scott, Editor and Laura Syrett, Prices Editor, discover.

  • Potash and barite supply tightens while fused magnesia faces overcapacity

    Wednesday, 29 October 2014

    Antimony, iodine suffer from slow China growth; Tough times continue for TiO2 pigment market; FM producers storing up trouble for the future

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Market Brief

Magnesia is the term for magnesium oxide (formula: MgO). Magnesia is produced by mining and processing mainly the hard rock mineral, magnesite, which occurs in two main forms: cryptocrystalline and crystalline.


Rarely, magnesia may be produced from other hard rock minerals such as dolomite, brucite, huntite, and serpentinite.


Another commercially important source of magnesia is from chemical processing of seawater and magnesia-rich brines, which produces what is sometimes referred to as synthetic magnesia.


Grades produced include:

·         Crude magnesite

·         Caustic calcined magnesia (CCM)

·         Dead burned magnesia (DBM)

·         Fused magnesia (FM)

·         Magnesium compounds derived from CCM, eg. magnesium hydroxide, magnesium sulphate.


The source of the magnesia determines critical chemical and physical characteristics of the derived magnesia, such as MgO purity (ranges low to high, 85%-99% MgO), ratio of CaO:SiO2, bulk density, and magnesia crystal size.



The world’s total resource of magnesite, the main source of magnesia, is about 13bn tonnes. Six countries host 92% of this, in descending order: China (26%), North Korea (23%), Russia (21%), Slovakia (10%), Australia (7%), and Brazil (5%).


World magnesia production (derived from the magnesite) is about 8.5m. tpa, and is dominated by China (49%). Other leading producers include Austria, Brazil, Greece, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, and Turkey.


World synthetic  magnesia production (derived from seawater, brines) is about 925,000 tpa, from Brazil, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Russia, South Korea, and the USA.


Leading magnesia producers include:

Grecian Magnesite – Greece

Houying Group – China

Kumas-Kuthaya Magnesite Works Corp. – Turkey

Magnesita Refratarios – Brazil

Magnezit Group – Russia

Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties – USA

Nedmag Industries Mining & Manufacturing – Netherlands

Queensland Magnesia – Australia

SMZ Jelsava – Slovakia

Ube Material Industries – Japan



Each end use requires different specifications of the preferred magnesia form, so there are many different grades of magnesia on the market. Certain magnesite deposits are better suited to produce certain magnesia grades than others.


Crude magnesite: agriculture, glass and ceramics.


CCM: agriculture; environment; cement; abrasive binder; pulp and paper; fillers; feedstock for DBM, FM, and magnesium compound production.


DBM: refractories.


FM: refractories; steel coatings; ceramics.