Chemical and Agrochemical Resources of Georgia

Georgian chemical and agrochemical resources imply barite, bentonite, talc, zeolite, diatomite, perlite, acid-resisting andesite, phosphorite, Glauber salt, lithographic stone, haloids, chalcedony and mineral paints.

1. Barite

There are three types of barite deposits in Georgia:

1.   Barites as the upper oxidizing zone of the Kuroko-type polymetallic sulfides at the Bolnisi Mining District;
2.   Early Alpine thick barite lodes in the Gagra-Java subterrane;
3.   Early Alpine strata-bound barite deposits in Upper Jurassic limestones overlapping an evaporite sequence in the same subterrane.

The bulk reserves of five most important deposits (Madneuli, David-Gareji and Kvemo Bolnisi in the Bolnisi Mining District,
vein and Apshra strata-bound deposits) contain 7,722,000 tons of barite for chemical use and paints including 5,820,000 tons of flotation barite (3,200,000 tons in the Bolnisi mining District and 2,650,000 tons in the Apshra deposit). Grade and reserves of all deposits are shown in Table below.

Barite Reserves in Georgia

Mine/Deposit Grade, % Reserves, Thousand t
Madneuli 31.7 -36.3 1,662
David Gareji 19.6 1,948
Kvemo Bolnisi 28.6 583
Apshra 45.6 2,648
Amakekva 46.0 98
Adzaga 39.8 845
Chordi 75.0 1,862
Pitikvara 95.0 130
Kudaro 87.0 275
Khaishi 80.0 306

Monomineral Barite Ores at the Chordi Mine. A. Tvalchrelidze Mineralogical Museum,
I. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University

2. Bentonite

Georgian montmorillonitic clays were introduced to chemical and petrochemical industries by Academician Alexander A. Tvalchrelidze. He started his investigations in 1916 and just that summer registered 53 manifestations of these clays, analogous to the fuller earth from Georgia and Florida States, USA. In early 1927 he organized a comparative investigation of kerosene purification with both montmorillonitic clay from Gumbri, Georgia, and by fuller earth from Attapulgus, Georgia, USA at the US concession plant in Baku, Azerbaijan, by that time owned by Standard Oil Company of New York (see figure below). These industrial tests have proven high quality and excellent technologic properties of the Georgian montmorillonitic clays, which received the name of "Gumbrine".

Geologically gumbrine represent a product of autigene marine (halmirolysis) alteration of the andesitic ash. This conception, first forwarded by Tvalchrelidze (1941), afterward has been proven by Machabeli (1961; 1982). Among numerous manifestations of gumbrine the better technologic properties are characteristic of the Gumbri and the Askana group deposits (Early Alpine mineralisation of the Dzirula subterrane). Chemical properties of gumbrine and askanite are shown in Table below.

Chemical Properties of Gumbrine and Askanite

Oxides, % Gumbrine Askanite
SiO 62.08 59.86
TiO 0.01 0.30
AlO 12.30 16.42
FeO + FeO 2.96 3.15
MgO 2.46 4.46
CaO 1.84 1.47
NaO + KO 0.58 0.30
HO+ 6.32 7.67
HO- 11.40 14.85

Bentonite Clays of Georgia: Gumbrine (Left) of the Gumbri Mine and Askanite (Right) of the Askana Mine. A. Tvalchrelidze Mineralogical Museum, I. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University

Table below introduces current reserves of bentonites.

Reserves of Bentonite Clays in Georgian Mines

Mine Reserves, t
Gumbri 4,100,000
Askana 7,518,000
Total 11,618,000
3. Talc

Bulk current talc reserves of the Chorchana group deposits are 1,900,000 tons. These deposits were discovered in 1929 by Academician Alexander A. Tvalchrelidze. They are due to the Chorchana ophiolitic hyperbasite Hercinian complex of the Dzirula crystalline massif forming 2.3-20 m-thick veins at its periphery. Veins grade is 60-80% of talc, the rest mass being presented by serpentine. MgO content in talc varies from 7 to 21% whereas those of the insoluble fraction - from 75 to 96%.

Mining has been stopped in the beginning of nineties, after Georgia achieved its independence: 80% of talc was utilized by the USSR chemical and petrochemical industries and the rest 20% - by ceramic, paper, pharmacological Russian enterprises. At the same time, detailed technologic tests have proven possibility of talc usage for production of refractory materials and magnesium-phosphate fertilizers.

4. Zeolite

Georgian zeolite played important role in stopping nuclear chain reaction during the Chernobyl catastrophe. In normal circumstances it used in agriculture, as oil filters and, seldom, as molecular cells. Two especially rich (more than 60% of clinoptillolite) mines (Dzegvi and Tedzami) have bulk reserves of 37 millions tons. Zeolite mines are distributed at the western edge of the Late Alpine Adjara-Trialeti subterrane and are determined by specific post-volcanic lacustrine sedimentation and autigene mineral formation with a possible hydrothermal supply of silica.

Clinoptillolitic Zeolite at the Tedzami Mine. A. Tvalchrelidze Mineralogical Museum, I. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University

Chemical composition of zeolites is shown in Table below.

Chemical Composition of Zeolite in Georgian Mines

Oxide, % Mine
Dzegvi Tedzami
SiO 50.85 50.47
TiO 0.50 0.46
AlO 12.89 12.29
FeO 2.05 2.09
FeO 1.85 1.92
MgO 1052
CaO 2.15 2.18
MnO 0.11 0.14
NaO 2.15 2.22
KO 3.11 3.00

5. Diatomite

Diatomite of the Kisatibi Mine, near the town of Akhaltsikhe, was formed in shallow fresh-water basin, which originated in Late Alpine time within the limits of the Adjara-Trialeti subterrane. It is suggested SiO2 was supplied by postvolcanic hydrotherms of the Ajara-Trialeti Late Alpine volcanism. The mine is composed of four industrial seams and contains two variety - white and gray - of diatomite. Their technologic properties are shown in Table below.

Diatomite at the Kisatibi Mine. Fish skeleton could be seen. A. Tvalchrelidze Mineralogical Museum, I.
Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University

Physical and chemical properties of the Kisatibi diatomite are among the best in the world (SiO2 91-96%, Fe2O3 0.28-1.5%, density of dry fraction 0.56-0.83 g/cm2, amount of diatom tests over 20 millions per cm3). Diatomite was mined in 1950-1994 for numerous industrial branches including production of thin oil filters.

Technical Features of the Kisatibi Diatomite

Variety of diatomite SiO, % FeO, % Density in dry state, g/sm³ Density in natural state, g/sm³ Free SiO, %
Gray 84 - 89 0.9 - 1.5 0.64 - 0.83 1.18 3.5 - 4.8
White 91 - 95 0.3 - 0.9 0.56 - 0.63 1.82 4.8 - 11.1

Table below demonstrates reserves of diatomite in 1974-1994

Reserves of the Kisatibi Diatomite Mine

Reserves, thousand t Production, thousand t
1972 1994
11,039 7,808 3,231

6. Perlite

Perlite of the Paravani deposit is due to Neogene volcanic processes of the Somkhito-Karabakh terrane. Its reserves are over 60 millions m3. The deposit comprises two types of industrial minerals - perlite and technical obsidian. Properties of these materials are shown in Table below.

Physical Properties of the Paravani Perlite

Material Interval of distend, °C Coefficient of distend Density of the distended mass, kg/cm³
1000-1250 5 - 14 150-400
Perlite 800-1050 6 - 18 50-250

Obsidian and perlite of the Paravani deposit may be used for production of:
  The highest quality insulators;
  Perlitoconcrete - concrete with heat isolation properties;
  Perlitoobsidianoconcrete - construction concrete of a very high quality;
  Obsidianoconcrete - construction concrete of high quality.

7. Acid-Resisting Andesite

Tsikhisjvari Mine of acid-resisting andesites represents a 35 m thick aeral flow of the Sairmos Kedi Early Quaternary volcano, which descends into the Borjomula River valley. Thin grinded andesites have excellent acid-resisting properties. They are used in different branches of industry comprising chemical and petrochemical processes and production of acid-resisting equipment. Reserves of andesites are evaluated to be 5,194,000 m3.

8. Phosphorite

Phosphorite occurrences in Georgia are related to the Middle Alpine mineralization in the Gagra-Java subterrane. In Oligocene time several shallow water basins were subject to intense deposition of fish skeletons due to volcanic paroxysms. Among phosphorite occurrences only the Kutaisi and the Lechkhumi deposits have moderate commercial interest.

Lechkhumi Oligocene phosphorite deposit is encountered at the bottom of a glaukonite sandstone sequence. Reserves of phosphorites with P2O5 grade over 10.8% are 407 thousand tons.

9. Glauber Salt

Two types of Glauber salt (mirabillite) deposits are known in Georgia within the limits of the Middle Mtkvari subterrane: modern salt lake sediments (Grdzeli Tba, 608,000 tons, Sakhare Tba, 386,000 tons) and Quaternary evaporites (Gldani Mine, rest reserves of 65,000 tons).

10. Lithographic Stone

The unique Algeti sedimentary Late Cretaceous deposit of a lithographic stone, used as inert container matrix in artificial diamond-producing industry, have reserves of 1,625,000 m3. Its technologic properties are shown below.

Technologic Properties of the Algeti Lithographic Stone

CaO, % FeO, % Ultimate resis-tance on compres-sion, kg/cm² Ultimate resis-tance on bending, kg/cm² Porosity, % Density, g/cm³ Yield of mass, % Yield of diamond, % Contai-ner quality
93.0 1.2 1,300 270 2.3 - 5.0 2.6 12.5-37 5 good

11. Haloids

Taribani deposit of haloids represents oil-related waters of the Taribani oil field, which are rich in these elements at a depth of 2-2.5 km. Average content of haloids is equal to (in mg/l): I - 20.3; Br - 14.0; B2CO3 - 23.5.

12. Chalcedony

Adjameti chalcedony deposit was formed by dyagenetic-autigene alteration of Oligocene spongolite strata that replace westward from the Chiatura town the manganese-bearing sequence. It is thought that the spongolite strata fix margins of manganese-bearing basins. Reserves of chalcedony are 4,090,000 tons and of spongolites - 16,182,000 m3. Table below demonstrates technologic properties of chalcedony.

Technological Properties of the Adjameti Chalcedony

Chalcedony Grade, % Refractory capacity, °C Density, g/sm³ Reserves, t
40 96.20 - 98.56 1730 - 1750 2.60 - 2.62 4 090 000

13. Mineral Paints

Mineral paint deposits of Georgia mainly include different ochre (red, pink, yellow, blue, etc.) and limonite pigments. The deposits are related to weathering processes either of polymetallic deposits (Brdzyshkha) or of granitic and other rocks rich in Fe2O3 + FeO (Chititskaro, Matkhoji-Udzlouri, Shrosha-Ubisi and Agara). Reserves of these deposits and their technologic properties are given in Table below. Technologic tests have proven satisfactory properties of paints: resistance against chemical agents, color stability, softening, etc.

Features of Georgian Mineral Paints deposits

Deposit FeO, % Pigment Oil capacity, % Reserves, t
Brdzyshkha 44.35 - 61.82 Limonite 26.00 600,000
Chitatskaro 74.60 - 74.90 Mummy 31.88 350,000
Matkhoji-Udzlouri 10.00 - 22.65 Mummy 30.55 437,000
Shrosha-Ubisi 58.00 - 67.98 Limonite 23.00 250,000
Agara 9.80 - 21.20 Mummy 30.00 1,600,000