Bauxite is the most important aluminium ore. It is largely made up of the minerals Gibbsite Al(OH)3, Boehmite γ-AlO(OH), and Diaspore α-AlO(OH), together with the iron oxides Goethite and Hematite, the clay mineral Kaolinite and small amounts of Anatase TiO2. It was named after the village Les Baux-de-Provence in southern France, where it was first discovered in 1821 by geologist Pierre Berthier.
There are two main kinds of bauxite ores: carbonate bauxites (karst bauxites), and silicate bauxites (lateritic bauxites). Carbonate bauxites were discovered earlier, and occur mainly in Europe and Jamaica above carbonate rocks such as limestone and dolomite.
Forming bauxite demands intense weathering conditions with very good drainage. Bauxite deposits with highest aluminium content are frequently located below an iron-bearing surface layer. In lateritic bauxite, the aluminum hydroxide contained in lateritic bauxite deposits is almost entirely a form called gibbsite.