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  • Talc
  • Mines Producing Talc

Talc has been used for many years as a beauty aid in the form of talcum powder and is widely held as being safe and desirable, although, if inhaled in large amount it can cause silicosis to form in a persons lungs, a disease that is not detected for many years after the event taking place. This is not a problem for the average user of talc because not enough would normally be inhaled to cause silicosis to take hold but it is a concern for workers who mine and crush the rock to create the powder that is widely used in many industries such as the following:

Electric cables
Paint and coatings
Paper making
Baby powder (prevention of nappy rash)
Welding, tailors and French chalk

Talc powder is an extremely fine substance, almost a dust, its very fine particles, once inhaled, become lodged in the very small alveoli sacs of the lungs and can-not be removed. Over time nature forms a protective layer over the irritant, much like what it does to a grain of sand to form a pearl in a pearl shell. This process continues un-noticed for many years, until it become large enough to inhibit breathing.

Talc powder is also used by some people as an adulterant to the illegal substance heroin. This is done to add weight and volume to increase the street value of the heroin being sold. When this is injected into a body it often leads to a disease known as talcosis which is a granulomatous inflammation of a persons lungs.
Talc is the softest known mineral listed on the Mohs hardness scale. It has a clear yet dusty luster and can be found from opaque to translucent. Talc is easily scratched with a fingernail and very easily cut with a knife. Its colour ranges from white to grey and green to purple. It has a smooth greasy feel when rubbed between your fingers.

Talc is a metamorphic mineral that has been formed as a result of magnesium minerals being metamorphosed. Good examples can be seen with rocks such as serpentine, olivine, amphibole and pyroxene, when in the presence of water and carbon dioxide. This is regarded as talc carbonisation and creates rocks called talc carbonates. Soapstone is a high talc rock.

Talc is found in Australia in the Komatiite Belt of the Yilgarn Craton in Western Australia and the Lachlan Fold Belt in eastern Australia. Australia's most notable economic talc occurrence is found at the Mount Seabrook talc mine in Western Australia.

There is a patent pending that will see the use of magnesium silicate as a substitute to cement in the future. It has proven to be less energy intensive than Portland cement as talc only requires heating to 650 degrees Celsius where limestone used to produce Portland cement requires 1,500 degrees Celsius. Talc also absorbs more carbon dioxide than does Portland cement. This leaves it with a negative carbon footprint overall.

Talc is also used as a food additive and as a facilitator for flow-ability in some pharmaceutical products. It is also used in medicine for reducing fluid in the lungs.

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