Lithium, a preliminary survey of its mineral occurrence in flint clay and related rock types in the United States




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Maximum concentrations of lithium found in samples of flint clay and associated rocks of Pennsylvanian age in different States, in parts per million (ppm), are: Missouri, 5100; Pennsylvania-Maryland, 2100; Kentucky, 890; Ohio, 660; Alabama, 750; and Illinois, 160. Lithium-bearing kaolin deposits are distributed in the Coastal Plain province from New Jersey to Texas, and one occurs in Idaho; maximum lithium concentrations in samples from these deposits range from 64 to 180 ppm. The maximum concentration found in the Arkansas bauxite region is 460 ppm and that in flint clay in Colorado is 370 ppm. Samples from areas other than Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri are relatively few in number, represent mostly commercially valuable clays, and represent only a part of the refractory clay deposits in the United States. Data are not available on the clays associated with these deposits that may be unusable because they contain too much lithium as well as other deleterious elements. In both Pennsylvania and Missouri, lithium contents vary regionally between districts and locally between deposits. In samples containing more than 2000 ppm lithium, the lithium occurs in a dioctahedral chlorite mineral very similar to cookeite, which previously has not been recognized in sedimentary clays. The associated clays consist chiefly of well-crystallized kaolinite. The dioctahedral chlorite, however, seems to be most abundant where diaspore and boehmite occur along with the kaolinite. Barium, chromium, copper, phosphorus and strontium are present in some samples in amounts of several hundred pans per million or more, and may contribute to the failure of some clays to perform satisfactorily in firing tests. Lithium-rich clays could serve as a significant lithium resource in the very distant future. Clays that contain as much as 1% lithium may be common enough in Missouri or in Pennsylvania to be produced as a by-product to help support benefication costs for refractory clays. Sufficient amounts of lithium-rich clay may be found in deposits that have been explored, found unsatisfactory for normal refractory uses, and not developed. The lithium-rich clay in some deposits presently being worked may be worth stockpiling for eventual use. ?? 1978.

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Lithium, a preliminary survey of its mineral occurrence in flint clay and related rock types in the United States
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