Assessment of high-purity limestone resources of the UAE

Mitchell, Clive ORCID:; Kemp, Simon ORCID:; Ellison, Richard; Arkley, Sarah; Wagner, Doris; Lott, Graham; Mounteney, Ian; Harrison, David. 2012 Assessment of high-purity limestone resources of the UAE. British Geological Survey, 204pp. (The geology and geophysics of the United Arab Emirates, 10).

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As part of the drive to develop non-oil based economy the UAE is continuing a programme of economic diversification, and is keen to develop its non-oil assets, such as its industrial mineral resources. A review of the industrial minerals sector in the UAE was carried out in 2002 to 2006 by the BGS as part of the work commissioned by the UAE federal Ministry of Energy. One of the highest priority recommendations from the review was that an evaluation of the potential for the production of industrial limestone and dolomite from resources within the UAE be carried out. It was considered that this would yield the benefit as there is potential to develop a sustainable industry that could remove the need for high-value mineral filler imports and create a lucrative export market. Currently the limestone and dolomite resources of the UAE are mainly exploited for construction aggregate. They have an intrinsically low value. There is little production of higher value limestone and dolomite products in the UAE and such commodities are imported. In 2008 the British Geological Survey (BGS) was commissioned by the UAE Ministry of Energy to carry out a resource assessment to identify high-purity limestone and dolomite resources that could be used for higher value applications. An initial market survey was carried out in Dubai to determine the requirements of industry in the UAE for limestone and dolomite. In addition a review was made of the commercial applications of limestone (which industry refers to as ‘calcium carbonate’) and dolomite and the physical properties required for individual applications, and the market for the commodities. High purity limestone is used as a raw material for the production of paint, paper, plastic, rubber, adhesives, caulks and sealants, agricultural, sports and environmental applications, ceramics, food and pharmaceuticals, animal feed and glass. High-purity dolomite is used for agricultural lime and the production of magnesia (MgO) for the manufacture of refractories, glass, magnesium chemicals, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers and magnesium metal. The assessment project started with a desk study and evaluation of limestone and dolomite samples collected by previous work in the UAE, to identify the resources with the best potential. A reconnaissance survey collected 221 samples from the limestone resources identified by the desk study. These were analysed in BGS laboratories to determine their chemical, mineralogical and physical properties. The limestones identified as having potentially the best quality were revisited in a second phase of field work when ten bulk samples were collected. These were analysed for their suitability as mineral filler, lime and construction aggregate. The analyses are summarised on a limestone and dolomite resource map of the northern emirates which illustrated the distribution of all limestones, colour-coded in terms of their purity. The main commercial quality criterion used to assess the purity of limestone is the calcium carbonate content and for dolomite it is the dolomite content. The magnesia, silica and iron oxide contents, and the brightness were also considered. The mineral filler properties, construction aggregate properties and lime burning properties were assessed for ten limestone occurrences. Approximately a third of the limestone in the northern emirates of the UAE has been found to be ‘high-purity’. This means it can be used to produce high-value limestone products that could be used by industry in the UAE as a substitute for the limestone they are currently importing. The resources identified to be high-purity include the Ruus al Jibal Group (undivided) and the Rus, Musandam 3, Musandam 2 and Dammam Limestone formations. In addition, ‘high-purity’ dolomite was also identified with the potential for industrial use. This study has shown that the UAE has resources of high purity limestone and dolomite, the development of which has the potential to make a substantial contribution to the economic diversification of the UAE economy. As a consequence of the assessment, the following recommendations are made: • Undertake investment promotion activities to alert interested parties to the limestone and dolomite resources available in the UAE. This could include the production of a freely available investment brochure and attendance at trade exhibitions. • Make more detailed assessment of the five top priority limestone resources to include more sampling and a drilling programme to increase the confidence of the resource assessment. • Undertake further assessment of the high-purity dolomite resources including additional sampling and a drilling programme. • Consider investigating further with companies in the UAE the end-use suitability of the limestone and dolomite resources of the UAE for the manufacture of paper, paint, rubber, plastic, ceramics and glass. • Make an assessment of the potential industrial suitability of the fine waste produced by limestone quarries in the UAE. • Establish an ‘Industrial Minerals Industry Forum’ to promote a better understanding of the needs of industry, provide information to the government and support the development of an indigenous minerals industry in the UAE.

Item Type: Publication - Book
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2010 > BGS Corporate
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This item can be purchased from Ministry of Energy Department of Geology and Mineral Resources PO Box 59 - Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates
Additional Keywords: Limestone, dolomite, calcium carbonate, industrial minerals, GCC, ground calcium carbonate, United Arab Emirates
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 31 Aug 2012 11:57 +0 (UTC)

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