Minerals ~ Mica Minerals
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Biotite Mica - Bear Lake diggings, Monmouth Township, Haliburton Co., Ontario, Canada
Photo Credit: R Schmidt

Mica Group

The mica group of sheet silicate (phyllosilicate) minerals includes several closely related materials having nearly perfect basal cleavage. All are monoclinic, with a tendency towards pseudohexagonal crystals, and are similar in chemical composition. The nearly perfect cleavage, which is the most prominent characteristic of mica, is explained by the hexagonal sheet-like arrangement of its atoms.

The word mica is derived from the Latin word mica, meaning a crumb, and probably influenced by micare, to glitter

Occurrence and production

Mica is widely distributed and occurs in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary regimes. Large crystals of mica used for various applications are typically mined from granitic pegmatites.

Until the 19th century, large crystals of mica were quite rare and expensive as a result of the limited supply in Europe. However, their price dramatically dropped when large reserves were found and mined in Africa and South America during the early 19th century. The largest documented single crystal of mica (phlogopite) was found in Lacey Mine, Ontario, Canada; it measured 10 × 4.3 × 4.3 m and weighed about 330 tonnes. Similar-sized crystals were also found in Karelia, Russia.

The British Geological Survey reported that as of 2005, Koderma district in Jharkhand state in India had the largest deposits of mica in the world. China was the top producer of mica with almost a third of the global share, closely followed by the US, South Korea and Canada. Large deposits of sheet mica were mined in New England from the 19th century to the 1970s. Large mines existed in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Scrap and flake mica is produced all over the world. In 2010, the major producers were Russia (100,000 tonnes), Finland (68,000 t), United States (53,000 t), South Korea (50,000 t), France (20,000 t) and Canada (15,000 t). The total production was 350,000 t, although no reliable data were available for China. Most sheet mica was produced in India (3,500 t) and Russia (1,500 t).[10] Flake mica comes from several sources: the metamorphic rock called schist as a byproduct of processing feldspar and kaolin resources, from placer deposits, and from pegmatites. Sheet mica is considerably less abundant than flake and scrap mica, and is occasionally recovered from mining scrap and flake mica. The most important sources of sheet mica are pegmatite deposits. Sheet mica prices vary with grade and can range from less than $1 per kilogram for low-quality mica to more than $2,000 per kilogram for the highest quality.

SOURCE

BIOTITE - Black Mica
     Biotite is hard and brittle, usually black in color. Click on link to see our available listings

MUSCOVITE - Silver Mica
     Muscovite is usually found in small flakes, silver in color though it varies in color. Click on link to see our available listings

LEPIDOLITE - Purple Mica
     Lepidolite is usually found in small flakes and crystal clusters and is usually a lilac or lavender color

PHLOGOPITE - Golden Mica
     Phlogopite is usually found in thin flexible layers, usually a golden sheen. sometimes reddish, brown and greenish
     in color.
Click on link to see our available listings


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