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Industrial mineral resources


Cyprus has been known for its asbestos since the Classical and Roman times.  Chrysotile asbestos occurs throughout the serpentinite group of the Troodos Ophiolite but the main deposits occur over an area of about 20 km2 near the village of Amiantos and within highly fractured plutonic rocks on the eastern slopes of the serpentinite outcrop.  Asbestos is a fibrous mineral found in veins, the width of which vary from a few millimetres up to 15 mm (Fig. 8).  The genesis of asbestos is associated with the serpentinisation of the harzburgite, the basal rock type of the ophiolite.  Reserves of around 9 million tonnes of crude asbestos are understood to remain within the northeastern flank of the Mount Olympus area.


Gypsum (CaSO42H2O) (Fig. 9) is an industrial mineral with a variety of uses (including ceiling and wall decorations, heat insulation, medicine, dentistry, art, agriculture, metallurgy etc.) that is found in many areas in Cyprus.  It is one of the evaporite minerals, which is formed from the evaporation of sea water.  The calcium sulphate content ranges between 95% and 99%.  The thickness of gypsum reaches 150 m (Kalavasos Formation). 


Crushed aggregates (sand and gravels) (Fig. 10 and 11) are produced from diabase (Fig. 12), reef limestone (Koronia and Terra Members of the Pakhna Formation) (Fig. 13) and calcarenite units of the Nicosia and Athalassa Formations. 


Clay is a natural material with plastic properties.  Clays suitable for brick and tile manufacture are sourced from sedimentary deposits of the Nicosia and Kythrea Formations, from river deposits and from altered and weathered igneous rocks of the Troodos Ophiolite.


Bentonite is a type of clay consisting predominantly of montmorillonite.  The bentonitic clays of Cyprus were deposited as deep-water sediments from the alteration of volcanic ash during the Upper Cretaceous period (approximately 90 Ma).  The key property of bentonite that makes it an industrial mineral with a variety of uses is the ability to swell with absorption of water and shrink with the expulsion of water. The main uses of bentonite include drilling muds, foundry sand binders, civil engineering, iron ore pelletisation and pet litter.


Raw materials for the manufacture of cement (Fig. 14) comprise chalk or low magnesium limestone, marl or clay and minor gypsum.  These are all widely available in Cyprus.


Building stone was for centuries the main construction material.  The type of stone was related to the rocks of each area, such as gabbro, diabase, and harzburgite in the mountainous areas (Fig. 15), and chalk, limestone and calcarenite elsewhere (Fig. 16).


Cyprus was known in the antiquity for its natural pigments (Fig. 17) such as the umber (Fig. 18), ochre (Fig. 19) and terra verde, all associated with the ophiolite complex.


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