Industrial minerals

Industrial minerals are minerals or rocks that are important for technical processes and applications in industry. Unlike ores, which are converted into metals by smelting, industrial minerals can be used in their natural state or after minimal beneficiation.

Salt extraction by means of leaching
Salt extraction by means of leaching in Bex, canton Vaud.

Summary

Industrial minerals are minerals or rocks that are important for technical processes and applications in industry. Unlike ores, which are converted into metals by smelting, industrial minerals can be used in their natural state or after minimal beneficiation.

Well-known industrial minerals that are mined and industrially used on a large scale in Switzerland today are:

  • Rock salt
  • Gypsum
  • Special clays 

In Switzerland, rock salt is associated with evaporite horizons that were created at the time of the Triassic period around 230-240 million years ago. Today, salt deposits are exploited at Bex/VD as well as in Schweizerhalle/BL and Riburg/AG. About 30 percent of the extracted salt is used in industry and trade, 25 percent for road de-icing and roughly 15 percent as table salt.

Salt deposits and production in Switzerland
Salt deposits and production in Switzerland
© SGTK

The gypsum deposits are found – like the salt deposits – predominantly in the Triassic deposits of the Jura mountains and the Alps. Gypsum is currently being mined in Bex/VD, Granges/VS, Leissigen/BE and Kerns/OW. Gypsum is mainly used in the construction, but also in the ceramic and crafts industries. 

Other industrial minerals, which were earlier of importance and mined in Switzerland, are amongst others:

  • Asbestos
  • Talc
  • Feldspar
  • Barite
  • Fluorite
  • Quartz
  • Mica
  • Olivine

Who is who

The Swiss Geotechnical Commission (SGTK) issues scientific information on industrial minerals. Contact for the salt sector is Swiss Salines; for gypsum it is Rigips and Fixit.

Swiss Geotechnical Commission (SGTK)
E-Mail
Website

The SGTK, under mandate from the federal government or of their own initiative, investigates the mineral deposits of the geological subsurface of Switzerland and their industrial application.

Salt production

Swiss Salines
Webseite

Gypsum production

Rigips AG
E-Mail
Website

Fixit AG
E-Mail

Website

Data

Data on industrial minerals in Switzerland. The SGTK has documentation, reports, databases and maps on industrial minerals in Switzerland at their disposal.

Publications


Geodata

The Geological Data Viewer and the Atlas of Switzerland provide map-based representations of industrial mineral occurrences in Switzerland.


Mineral Resources

ETH Zurich Department of Earth Sciences
Georesources Switzerland Group
NO F35
Sonneggstrasse 5
CH-8092 Zurich
Tel.
+41 44 632 37 28

E-Mail


Print contact

Industrial minerals: occurrences

Salt & gypsum