Table of Contents

  • Among the Nordic countries, Iceland is clearly the volcanic one. This affects the status of mining in the country but, on the other hand, leads to vast amounts of resources related to volcanism.

  • The GREENBAS project is about the feasibility of producing continuous basalt fibres from Icelandic basalt. The project was made possible with support from NordMin, with the aim to develop the Nordic mining and mineral industry.

  • This work was conducted as a part of the “Sustainable Fibres from Basalt Mining” (GREENBAS) project, funded by NordMin – A Nordic Network of Expertise for a Sustainable Mining and Mineral Industry.

  • The chemical composition and mineral content of basalt varies considerably. For applications such as tiles, stone castings or staple fibres, basalt with a wide range of properties can be used. However, for production of continuous basalt fibres (CBF), the requirements become much more stringent and only a narrow range of compositions can be used to make CBF [1–3]. With these strong requirements for composition and mineral content, the list of possible basalt mines in the world becomes very short [1, 3] Today, major manufacturers of CBF are known to use raw material from mines in western Ukraine or Georgia, consisting of andesitic basalts with SiO2 content more than 50wt% [4, 5].

  • Iceland is located in the North Atlantic Ocean, and represents an island overlying a lower density mantle plume (hotspot) and lies also astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where rifting is taking place at a rate of about 1 cm/yr on average. The crust is therefore a mixture of an oceanic and a hotspot type. The basalt types range from tholeiitic to alkalic compositions, which are controlled by localized rifting conditions. Although basalt is far the most dominant rock composition, intermediate to acidic rock types are found within central volcanic complexes. The distribution is, however, bimodal with maxima at basalt (~90%) and rhyolite (~8%) and minima at intermediate compositions (~2% andesite). In terms of this project it implies that rocks which surpass 50% SiO2 become rare until reaching near rhyolite compositions. Volcanic rocks which are found within continental regions and subduction zones do contain similar compositions. However, these often follow a more alkalic geochemical trend and a greater abundance of rocks of intermediate composition than found in Iceland.

  • Three field trips to collect basalt samples were scheduled in cooperation with ISOR. One field trip was to the Reykjanes Peninsula and the other trips were to the Northeast and Northwest of Iceland, respectively. During these trips several dozen samples were collected.

  • Field trips to collect basalt samples were scheduled in cooperation with ISOR. One field trip was to the Reykjanes Peninsula and four trips were to southern Iceland’s lowlands. Samples were collected at the areas surrounding Mt. Hekla and at Myrdalssandur near Mt. Katla. Further sampling was carried out at pórlákshöfn and at Landeyjar.

  • The objective of this project was to carry out a lifecycle assessment (LCA) which evaluated the sustainability of continuous basalt fibre production in Iceland, compared to current Russian production, and to report and publish the obtained results. This included evaluating a range of different scenarios based on size and type of furnace, mine location and mode of transport. Furthermore, a comparison has been completed that assesses the environmental performance of competing, market-available materials, such as steel, glass fibre and carbon fibre. The analysis also investigated the second stage production of basalt fibre reinforced polymer (BFRP), with the addition of polyester resin in the production process. It has also looked at the use of BFRP as an alternative to steel reinforcement.

  • Iceland has plentiful basalt resources, but their composition varies considerably. To use basalt for different kinds of applications, raw material processing is required. The objective of the VTT work within the GREENBAS project was to theoretically study Icelandic basalt modifications with different additives to adjust desirable oxide composition for the production of continuous basalt fibres.

  • B. Johannesson og T.I. Sigfusson. Blátrefjar (in Icelandic). Fréttabréf Steinsteypufélags Íslands, 28. árgangur, 1 tbl, bls. 12–13, Febrúar 2015.

  • The main objectives of the GREENBAS project have been accomplished. The only significant exception is that it took longer than expected to find locations with suitable basalt composition. Accordingly, the project did not reach the stage of mining basalt in large quantities. Consequently, the involvement of JEI was less than anticipated. JEI, however, played an active role in the project and provided a significant contribution to its success.