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Apatite Mineral: Processing the Sweetest Surprise of Earth

Author : Jordan Last Updated :
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Over two thousand years ago, ancient China discovered the magic of apatite, using it to create pigments that became renowned colorants for the Qin Dynasty Terracotta Warriors.

Today, apatite rock remains highly valuable, used in the production of phosphate fertilizers, gemstones, and various phosphate products essential to daily life.

Join us on an exploration journey of apatite!

Blue apatite healing properties

In 1786, German geologist Abraham Gottlob Werner named apatite from the Greek word "apate," meaning "to deceive."

Why does apatite "win this honor"? Who or what did apatite deceive?

It earned this name because of its resemblance to beryl and fluorite, often confusing mineral experts who mistook it for other gemstones.

Blue apatite

Today, blue apatite is highly sought after and symbolizes wisdom. Wearing it is believed to promote inner peace and enhance social skills.

Some believe that due to its mineral composition being similar to human bones and tooth enamel, wearing apatite can protect bone, teeth, and cartilage health.

However, it's important to note that apatite's hardness is only 5 on the Mohs scale, compared to 7–9 for most gemstones, limiting its widespread use as a gemstone.

Apatite colors vary by location

Is apatite a rare mineral?

Many readers might be curious about this, but the answer is no. Apatite is quite abundant on Earth, with different colors found in various distribution areas.

Types Distribution countries
Blue apatite Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Brazil
Blue-green apatite Norway, South Africa
Purple apatite Germany, Maine and California
Yellow apatite Durango, Mexico, Spain, Canada, Brazil, China
Green apatite India, Canada, Mozambique, Madagascar, Spain, Myanmar
Brown apatite Canada
Colorless apatite Myanmar, Italy, Germany, China
Blue-green apatite cat's eye Sri Lanka, Myanmar
Green apatite cat eye Brazil
Yellow apatite cat eye Sri Lanka, Tanzania, China

Apatite: phosphate mineral group

Apatite gemstone transcends its status as a mere jewel. Fundamentally, it belongs to a group of phosphate minerals.

blue apatite

Its chemical formula, Ca5(PO4)3(F,Cl,OH), places it predominantly within igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, characterized by a hexagonal crystal system. Apatite exhibits a transparent to translucent glassy luster, with an average density of 3.19.

Apatite is classified into three primary types based on its chemical composition: fluoroapatite, chloroapatite, and hydroxyapatite.

Among these, fluoroapatite is the most prevalent. Fluorine aids in preventing dental caries and serves as a vital component in fluoride toothpaste.

Hydroxyapatite is a principal mineral component of human tooth enamel and bones.

Apatite's diverse uses

Apatite uses

  • Fertilizer: Apatite is vital for making phosphate fertilizer, benefiting crop growth, root development, and disease resistance.
  • Industrial Applications: Apatite serves as a key raw material for phosphoric acid and various phosphate salts, used in food, water treatment, and pharmaceuticals.
  • Ceramics: Apatite's ions improve ceramics by enhancing sintering, hardness, glaze fluidity, and product durability.
  • Medical Field: Apatite is widely used in medicine for bone repair, as it integrates well with bone tissue, promoting cell growth and tissue regeneration.
  • Dental Field: Apatite is used in dental applications like fillings and artificial tooth roots due to its strong bond with tooth tissue and wear resistance.

Apatite concentrate processing secrets

When apatite is used to make fertilizers or various phosphate products, it must be leached with nitric acid to extract phosphoric acid. To enhance the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of acid leaching, apatite must be processed into apatite concentrate before leaching.

How can apatite concentrate be obtained?

FTM Machinery is designed with 4 steps crushing, grinding, flotation, and drying to help you obtain apatite concentrate efficiently.

  • Crushing Process
  • Grinding Process
  • Flotation Process
  • Drying Process

Apatite, with a hardness of 5, is typically crushed using a combination of jaw and cone crushers to achieve a size of less than 20 mm during secondary crushing.

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Crushing

Crushed apatite particles are ground in a ball mill to achieve a particle size of 0.074–0.4 mm.

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Grinding

Apatite is commonly found with clay, quartz, calcite, and dolomite. Flotation separates apatite by exploiting the different surface properties of these minerals. Sodium oleate captures apatite, resulting in a phosphate concentrate with a 90% recovery rate and 50% grade.

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Flotation

Following apatite flotation, a Rotary Dryer is recommended for drying.

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Drying

FTM Machinery customer case

The following is the production plan provided by our company for an apatite processing factory in Morocco.

Customer Profile An apatite processing plant in Morocco
Background Moroccan apatite production accounts for more than 15% of the global total, and its reserves are abundant. The local apatite is mainly fluoroapatite, which contains higher phosphorus, but also contains more impurities such as clay quartz.
Customer capacity requirements It can crush at least 60 tons of apatite per hour. Two crushers with high crushing efficiency are needed and the budget is sufficient.
Apatite raw ore size About 200 mm
Discharge size 0.074–0.4 mm

FTM Machinery Solution:

Considering the small feed size of the raw ore within the cone crusher's feed range (160 mm to 450 mm), we suggest employing two cone crushers.

Each crusher has a production capacity of 80 t/h, meeting the customer's production requirements. Post-crushing, the material undergoes screening via a vibrating screen, with particles smaller than 20 mm proceeding to the ball mill for wet grinding. A flotation machine is used to float the apatite concentrate, while a rotary drum dryer reduces the concentrate's moisture content.

Production line

Communication FAQ

Can you arrange exports to Morocco? What is the shipping time?

Certainly, shipping from Henan, China to Casablanca takes 37 days by sea.

Do you provide engineering services with installation guidance?

Absolutely, we will guide you throughout the process. The installation is straightforward as most machines come pre-assembled. We can provide detailed installation flowcharts, including installation precautions. If you encounter any problems during the installation, we can assist you through remote video guidance.


Author : Jordan Jordan is the writer of the blog with a broad knowledge of this industry. Most importantly, he hopes to help you in your projects sincerely.

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