What is Natural Bitumen

Natural bitumens are semisolid or solid mixtures of hydrocarbons and as much as 50 percent heterocyclic compounds and are composed mostly of carbon and hydrogen but have content of other elements such as oxygen, sulfur and Nitrogen.

To classify natural bitumen, a classification of hydrocarbons is required. Hydrocarbons are molecules made from carbon and hydrogen atoms and form a continuous series of organic compounds ranging from the heaviest (coal) to crude oil and to lightest (methane). In natural resources, hydrocarbons have formed complex mixtures with nonhydrocarbons:

Definition of Natural Bitumen

Based on above proved categorization, if a hydrocarbon mineral is NOT Solvable in Oil solutions such as CS2 or TCE, then it is NOT a natural bitumen and belongs to the family Pyrobitumens such as reserves of Albertite in Canada and Selenizza in Albania.

On the other hand, the famous natural bitumen Gilsonite, is under the family of Asphaltite which are found in many countries including USA, Iran, Colombia, China and Angola.

The term natural asphalt mostly refers to Lake Asphalt deposits, most famous one to be in Trinidad and Tobacco and also the ones in South of Iran.

Below is a comparison of conceptual specs to differentiate Crude Oil and Natural bitumen types:

ClassOil (wt%)Asphaltic Content (wt%)Viscosity (cP)Specific Gravity
High viscosity oil (Heavy oil)70<2550-2,0000.935-0.965
Maltha (Extra heavy oil)40-7525-602,000-20,0000.965-1.030
Natural Bitumen (Natural Asphalt)25-4060-75>20,0001.030-1.100
Natural Bitumen (Asphaltite, Gilsonite…)<25>75<1,0001.050-1.200
Kerite (Pyrobitumen)3-590N/A1.070-1.350
Anthraxolite (Pyrobitumen)N/A100N/A1.300-2.000
Ozocerite (Mineral wax)50-100<50N/A0850-970

Natural Bitumen Suppliers

Supply of Natural bitumen is a very technical business in nature, but according to the low knowledge of consumption market on the material, there is a vast range of suppliers which are arranging Natural Bitumen shipments professionally and unprofessionally (especially from Iran) as well.

Most common market for the Natural Bitumen type is for Asphaltite kind and among asphaltites the most famous supply is Grahamite (Also called Gilsonite). Providing the availability of Gilsontie-Type natural bitumen to be mostly Iran and USA, most natural bitumen suppliers are from these two countries along with miners and exporters of asphaltite (asfaltita) from Colombia that are emerging in the past years.

Natural Bitumen is mostly sold in powder form in 25 kg sacks for ease of use at the consumption sites and it can be supplied in a variety of specifications with superior synthetic quality from American Gilsonite company to the Natural Normal Quality supplied by reputable Iranian suppliers such as Zista Gilsonite.

At Zista Gilsonite is proud to have own mine operation and powdering facilities to supply a 100% Natural Bitumen to international market and adapt the supply possibilities to industrial consumption requirements when possible.

Considering internal mining operation and direct access to products from other mines in Iran, the range of specifications supplied by Zista Gilsonite from 50-95% bitumen content (solvable material in CS2) for Drilling Sector and also possibility of supplying natural asphalt (Iranian Lake Asphalt) for certain applications in Road Paving.

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