Search by Subject
Search by Institution







Serpentine is the main mineral in serpentinite and it has three mineral polymorphs: antigorite, chrysotile and lizardite. The three varies in composition and structure. Antigorite usually appears in plate-, leaf- or block-like masses, chrysotile has a fibrous appearance while lizardite has a very fine-grained scaly appearance. Serpentine generally has a yellow-green, light-green or dark-green color. Most are used as raw materials for industrial applications, construction and craft work.  In Taiwan serpentine is mainly found on the eastern slopes of the Central Range and the southern part of the Coastal Range. Common companion minerals include talc, asbestos, nephrite, dolomite, olivine, calcite and garnet.

Mineral Formation
Serpentine is formed by hydrothermal alteration or metamorphism of magnesium-rich silicates such as olivine, pyroxen and hornblende. It is often found with talc, asbestos, nephrite, dolomite, olivine, calcite and garnet as its companion minerals.

Geographic Distribution
(1) In Yilan County at Wushihbi in Su-ao and Liusing at Nan-ao
(2) In Yilan County at Fongtian, Yuli, Rueisuei, Wanrong, Jhuosi and Fuli
(3) In Taitung County at Guanshan, Rihchu, Fugang and Dianguang
(4) Some are also scattered about Langdao and Yieyou on Langyu.

Mining History
After the Nationalist government withdrew to Taiwan, serpentine was mined on the middle and upper reaches of Cingsuei River in Jhuosi Township, Hualien County. Mining was carried out using dynamite and rock drills. In 1950 Taiwan Fertilizer set up a phosphate fertilizer plant and began large-scale serpentine mining for use as raw material in phosphate fertilizer. The rights to the Fongtian mine were transferred to the China Quarry Company(中國石礦公司) in 1954. Talc, asbestos and serpentine were mined together with the serpentine supplied to Taiwan Fertilizer. When the production of phosphate fertilizers ended, the mining of serpentine was temporarily halted in 1960. Mining resumed when Taiwan Cement's Su-ao Plant began producing fire-resistant serpentine bricks. Mining rights were transferred again in 1984 to Lising Mining Co., Ltd(理新礦業). Mining of serpentine continued and is now supplied to China Steel for use as a flux in steel smelting. 

Production of serpentine peaked in 1989 with 354,503 tonnes of raw stone and 109,080 tonnes of masonry produced. In 2005, raw serpentine production was 408,290 tonnes with 3,163 cubic meters of serpentine masonry; in 2006 raw serpentine production was 303,596 tonnes with 4,528 cubic meters of serpentine masonry. 

Can be used for extracting magnesium oxide, making fire-resistant materials and a fluxing agent in steel smelting. In agriculture, can be used for making fertilizer, pesticides and soil treatments. Can also be used for making cement, building masonry, furniture and craft items. 

National Museum of Natural Science