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  • Rutile
  • Mines Producing Rutile

Natural rutile can contain significant amounts of tantalum and niobium, as well as up to 10 percent iron. It has the highest ability to propagate light than any other known mineral. It also exhibits a high dispersion. Some rutile samples produce a deep red colour when viewed under transmitted light. This red colour is where it gets the name 'rutile' which is derived from the Latin word 'rutilus,' meaning red.

Much of the world's production of rutile comes from the mining of beach sands. Mining companies extract the sand and separate it into various minerals, notably, ilmenite, zircon, monazite and rutile.

Rutile is commonly used in the following applications:
- Pigment of titanium dioxide
- In titanium metals used in the aerospace industry
- In the manufacturing of welding rods
- The production of titanium sponge metal
- An opacifier for glazes on ceramic tiles
- In refractories, particularly in the foundry industry
- Asteriated gem stones such as star rubies and star sapphires where the presence of rutile creates the optical phenomenon of asterism. This phenomenon makes the gem more valuable than its more normal counterparts
- Pigment colouring for food, cosmetics, fabric, plastic, ink and paint
- Drycolorants in the visual arts and manufacturing industry
- An adhesive agent for paint
- Any application that requires a bright white appearance
- In sunscreen to protect against skin damage caused by ultraviolet radiation as nanoscale particles of rutile are transparent to light, while at the same time absorb ultraviolet radiation.

At current rates of usage, Australia has enough reserves of rutile to last for the next 50 years. Almost half of Australia's rutile production is mined in Western Australia. The next highest producing state is Victoria, followed by Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. In Victoria most rutile is mined in an open pit manner in the Murray Basin by international mineral sands miner Iluka.

Murray Basin rutile was first mined in 2007 and today is mined at Pirro, Rowneck and Woornack and processed at Iluka's mineral separation plant at Hamilton in Victoria's Western District. In 2012 the Murray Basin produced 170,000 tonnes of natural rutile sand.

Rutile can also be manufactured synthetically as a high grade product for industry use. It is processed in kilns established in Western Australia, south of Perth, as well as in the mid-west and south west of the state. Iluka produced 250,000 tonnes of synthetic rutile in 2012.

Synthetic rutile was first manufactured in 1948 and was marketed under various names, one being the colourless diamond substitute known as 'Titania,' the old name used for rutile. However, it is not often that synthetic rutile is used in jewellery because it is not scratch resistant, as it is relatively soft measuring only six on the Mohs hardness scale. Synthetic rutile is practically colourless although it does contain a slight yellow hue on inspection. Its high refractive index gives it a superlative lustre and this along with its strong refraction gives it a diamond like appearance. It is quite transparent but can be produced in various colours by doping.

Australian Mines that produce Rutile

Ginkgo ( NSW )

The Ginkgo Mine, in the South West of New South Wales, was the first such mine to start production in the rich heavy mineral sand deposits of the Murray Basin.

Snapper ( NSW )

The Snapper mineral sands mine in the far south west of NSW is a natural extension of the older Ginkgo sand mine 10 kilometres to its north.

Tiwi ( NT )

The final shipment of mineral sand from the Tiwi mine in Northern Territory took place on January 16, 2013. It is currently placed on care and maintenance.

North Stradbroke Island ( QLD )

Sand mining on North Stradbroke Island is scheduled to cease by 2027 when about 80 percent of the area previously mined will become a national park.

Eucla Basin ( SA )

The Eucla Basin Jacinth Ambrosia mineral sands mine in South Australia that is owned by Iluka Resources has the worlds largest assemblage of Zircon.

Douglas Iluka Murray Basin ( VIC )

The Douglas sand mining operation has now ceased and the area fully rehabilitated by the mine owner Iluka.

Kulwin ( VIC )

Located in Kulwin VIC, mining Mineral sands, Rutile, Zircon, Ilmenite

Cooljarloo Exxaro ( WA )

The Cooljarloo mineral sands mine in W.A. produces over 770,000 tonnes of heavy mineral concentrate annually using dry mining and dredging techniques.

Dardanupdoral ( WA )

The Dardanup–Doral mineral sands mine at Picton in Western Australia is owned by Japanese company Iwatani International Corp. through Doral Mineral Sands.

Gwindinup North ( WA )

The Gwindinup North mineral sand mining operation near Bunbury in Western Australia is owned by Saudi Arabian company Cristal Mining Australia Limited.

Naracoopa ( TAS )

Mineral sand mining at Naracoopa on King Island, Tasmania, that has been taking place, on and off, since early in the 1990's is once again in production.

Tutunup South Iluka ( WA )

Although the Tutunup South/Iluka mine had only commenced production in June 2011 it will be made idle in 2013 because of slow sales in mineral sands.

Woornack Rownack Pirro ( VIC )

The Woornack, Rownack, Pirro (WRP) mineral sand mining project got underway in 2012 and is expected to continue for at least three to four years.

Donald ( NSW )

Astron Limited's Donald mineral sands project in the Murray Basin Region of Victoria will become one of the worlds top five zircon producers.rn

Wim 150 ( VIC )

The WIM 150 mineral sands project, 20 kilometres south east of Horsham, in the Wimmera Region of Victoria, is to be developed by Australian Zircon NL.

Jacinth Ambrosia ( SA )

The Jacinth-Ambrosia mineral sands mine in the Eucla Basin Region of South Australia is the first South Australian mine to operate in a state regional reserve.

Atlas Campaspe ( NSW )

The Atlas-Campaspe heavy minerals sand mining project in far west New South Wales being developed by Cristal Mining has received both state and federal environmental approval.

Keysbrook ( WA )

When the Keysbrook heavy mineral sand mining project gets underway in November, 2015, it will be the worlds largest producer of leucoxene.

Mindarie ( SA )

The Mindarie Heavy Mineral Sands Project in the Mallee Region of South Australia produces mineral sands for export to China.

Coburn ( WA )

The Coburn Zircon deposit located north of Geraldton in Western Australia has had all necessary approvals granted and is expected to begin production in the near future.

Capel Operations ( WA )

The Capel mineral sands operation in south west Western Australia, that is owned by Iluka Resources Limited, is once again in production after an 18 month layoff.

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