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What are Borates And Where Do I Use Them?


  • Borates are naturally occurring minerals containing boron (B, atomic number 5). The industry defines borates as any compound that contains or supplies boric oxide (B2O3). 


  • Borates are thus inorganic salts of boron and refer to a large number of mineral and chemical compounds that contain borate anions. They have metabolizing, bleaching, buffering, dispersing, and vitrifying properties. 


  • Borates are a key input material in the production of fibreglass insulation, textile fibreglass, borosilicateglass, ceramics and fertilisers. These applications account for over three-quarters of borates consumption. The borates imported in the EU are mostly embodied in glass products. 


  • The next common application of borates imports is the supply to ceramics and frits industry followed by fertilisers. Borates also have applications within the construction, metallurgy and chemicals industries. 


  • Other applications and uses include as construction materials, abrasives, catalysts, coatings, and detergents.


Where are Borates Produced?


  • The global producers of borates are Turkey 48%, USA 25%, Chile 11% and Bolivia 5%.


  • The borates world production, according to WMD, in 2020 was 3.6 Mtonnes significantly reduced in comparison to the average of the period 2016-2020 (4.13 Mtonnes). There is no publicly available data on the production of refined borates. Based on estimation from the global trade data as reported by UN Comtrade (2019), US is the dominant supplier of refined borates accounting for 67% of the total world exports.


Specific Issues for Borates


  • The harmonised classification of Borates under the EU’s Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation (CLP) in 2009 was the step towards the EU’s stifling of Borates supply.

  • The subsequent listing of borates as substances of very high concern on the candidate list of the EU’s REACH Regulation and the prioritisation attempts of Borate substances for Authorisation under REACH are creating further obstacles.

  • Ultimately, authorisation aims for substitution of all SVHCs. Applying the generic exemptions, about 20% of the volumes of borates remain in the scope of authorisation and when considering the uses for which there will never be a substitute (i.e. nuclear and/ or agricultural applications), this figure drops below 2-3%.


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