Close-up of a hand-sized specimen of sparry magnesite in grey/white
Photo: C. Reichl

At the end of the 19th century Austria ranked first in the global production of refractory products based on the industrial mineral magnesite. Even today, Austria is beside Slovakia still among the major European magnesite producer countries and, with a production volume of about 700,000 tonnes in 2019, ranks seventh in global production.

The term “magnesite” is deduced from the alkaline earth metal  magnesium, which is the main component of the mineral.

The freely mineable raw magnesite is extracted in the Austrian Federal Provinces Styria, Carinthia and Tyrol, both in open-cast mining and in underground mining. At the attached steel mills sintered magnesite, magnesite bricks, caustic magnesite and refractory mixes are produced from the raw material.

At Breitenau in Styria one of the world’s largest underground magnesite mines is operated.

Magnesite is indispensable as a protective inner layer for all high-temperature processes (above 1,200°C), for example for furnaces and glass tanks in the production of steel, non-ferrous metals, cement, and glass. For example, about ten kilogrammes of refractory products are needed to produce a car and about 1 tonne to produce an aeroplane.

The current production data for Austria and the world can be found in the Austrian Montan-Handbuch and in the international statistics on raw materials, WORLD MINING DATA.