Alum was a successful mineral product since the startup of agricultural revolution. Europe was supplied from Asia Minor and Syria until 1453 when the Turks seized Constantinople. Until middle 20th century, alum was made by refining alunite, the hydrated double sulfate of aluminum and potassium and by synthetizing it out of alum shale as main production systems.
But in mid-nineteenth century two discoveries changed the role of alum: textile dyes made by coal distillation (Perkin, London 1856) and the chemical industrial aluminum (Deville, Paris 1855) improved with 1886 Hall-Heroult process. These findings together with the earlier identification of bauxite as an aluminum ore (Berthier, Paris 1821) and with Bayer’s of refining it in 1888, replaced alum production as a driving industrial force for aluminum production beginning twentieth century.
The study of this transition could shade some light to life cycle analysis of minerals in the case of the aluminum system.