The indiscriminate impact of the
global economic recession continues to come as a surprise.
Since the beginning of the
situation over a year ago, the wollastonite industry has
experienced a severe downturn. One of the main reasons is that
the wollastonite industry serves a multitude of markets -
paints, coating, ceramics, construction, friction, metallurgy,
see Table 3 - which have all been significantly
affected by the recession.
There are few better examples of
the scope of the global recession than the wollastonite
With regional recessions,
companies were at least able to depend on export sales to help
weather the economic downturn, explained Robert Virta,
wollastonite analyst with the US Geological Survey
While the effects from the global recession on
major end markets - ceramics, plastics, and
appear to be subsiding, uncertainty still clouds future
As a result, some of their wollastonite being exported to
countries affected by the recession - even producers in China
and India are suffering, despite their growing economies,
The majority of wollastonites
markets are related to manufacturing industries which have been
hit hard: automobiles (automotive plastics and friction
products), appliances and heavy equipment (powder coatings),
steel (slag conditioners), technical ceramics (a ceramic body
component), and housing (caulks, ceramic floor and wall tile,
joint compounds, paints, sanitaryware, sealants, and
The fortunes of these markets have
resulted in notable reductions in wollastonite sales,
particularly in Europe and North America.
The most dramatic change in
the latter half of 2008 and first half of 2009 has been the
major decline of the automotive market and its influence into
demand of plastic, coating and metallurgical materials,
Anssi Koikkalainen, sales manager at Nordkalk Corp., the
Finland based wollastonite producer, told
At the same time, the construction
sector fortunes have plummeted directly impacting demand of
wollastonite through ceramics, paints and coatings. As a
result, producers have been seeking ways to improve
productivity and cut costs, without threatening the secure
material flow to the customers.
In these though times, however,
what came as a surprise is that the world of wollastonite
supply is evolving, with newcomers making a discreet entrance
into the market from Spain and South Africa.
After a many years of being the
worlds leading wollastonite producing country, the USA
relinquished the title 1995 when Chinese production entered the
In 2008, the USA slipped to third
place in the world produced stakes after it mined less than
100,000 tonnes in the year, 50,000 tonnes less than in 2000.
China and India are now the leading worlds leading
The USA has two producers of
wollastonite: NYCO Minerals Inc., the worlds second
largest producing company after Udaipur based Wolkem India
Ltd - and RT Vanderbilt Co. Inc. (see Table
NYCO has three mines in the USA:
Lewis, Oak Hill and Fox Knoll Mines (Essex County, New York) in
addition to Pilares Mine in Sonora, Mexico. Lewis and Pilares
are the only operational mines at present.
The company supplies high aspect
ratio (HAR) grade wollastonite for plastics (including
automotive), rubber, paint and coatings, adhesives, sealants,
metallurgical, ceramics, friction, fire-resistant calcium board
and construction applications to Europe, Asia, Latin America
and North America.
NYCO had to recently reduce its
production of ore from Lewis and Sonora. In 2009, the Lewis
Mine produced 50,000 s. tonnes down from 150,000 s. tonnes in
2008. Output is lower in 2009 due to the economy and
reserves stockpiled from 2008, Dawn Revette, marketing
manager at NYCO, told IM.
Revette also explained that due to
the winter weather in northern New York state and established
permits, the Lewis operation can only mine ore from April to
November. Due to slow sales, the mine did not open
until May 2009 with most of the mining and trucking completed
by October, she added.
As a result, NYCOs sales have
plummeted by almost 40% compared with the same period in
At the Oak Hill Mine,
infrastructure is under development with no major production to
date. It does not expect to restart production for between 6-8
years based on existing sales.
The Fox Knoll Mine has not been
operational since early 1980s.
In Mexico, Pilares Mine has a
projected production of 28,000 tonnes in 2009, down from 45,000
tonnes in 2008.
As Revette revealed to
IM, the overall effects from the world
recession continue to influence the market adversely. NYCO was
significantly impacted by the collapse of the North American
automotive industry and the housing market.
Consumer spending continues
to be conservative, she commented.
The primary challenges facing
NYCOs ability to supply wollastonite are related to
stringent government regulations required for sustainable
These regulations increase
the costs to produce wollastonite which make it difficult to
compete with other countries, such as China and India,
she declared, pointing out that labour costs are also
much higher in the United States in addition to logistic
costs which are a significant component of our costs and
ability to be competitive in the world marketplace.
Another main challenge is the
increasing demand by manufacturers for improved performance at
But Revette remains confident as
manufacturers, particularly in the USA, are looking towards
higher value products: niche markets which open opportunities
for wollastonite as a speciality mineral.
Although the recession has
significantly impacted the world economy, it has also opened
opportunities for companies to test new materials for enhanced
properties, to reduce manufacturing costs, such as energy or
reduce scrap, she underlined to IM.
However, recovery for the US
wollastonite market is not expected before 2012 as the USA is
showing the least development versus Europe and
RT Vanderbilt (RTV) is the second
largest wollastonite producer in the USA with an estimated
capacity of 40,000 tpa. The company is located in north-east
New York state, and mines through RT Vanderbilts largest
mining and minerals processing plant, Gouverneur Talc Co.,
Gouverneur Talc Co. manufactures
VANSIL® wollastonite for the paint, ceramics and
plastics industries from its two milling operations and several
mining operations which are located on over 2,300 acres of
The milling operations include
dry-grinding, air-milling and air-classification processes. The
mines are both open pit and underground.
RTVs wollastonite is sold
into ceramic products such as wall tiles, dinnerware, and
sanitaryware, and as a reinforcing agent in plastics. Both
products contribute high-fired brightness, low shrinkage, and
strength to ceramic products.
India: growth still
India ranks second after China
producing almost 20% of the worlds wollastonite. But
production is limited to Wolkem India Ltd and Galaxy Corp.
Wolkem has a capacity of over
160,000 tpa wollastonite from the Sirohi district of Rajasthan,
Indias north-west province. Galaxy Corp. produces
6-10,000 tpa from the same deposit but a different mine to
Wolkem supplying the domestic ceramics industry (IM August
09, p.28: A minerals passage to India).
As in China (see China v
India), large scale development of the
countrys wollastonite did not occur until the 1980s, when
India started to produce about 10,000 tpa.
One of the main reasons behind this
was the challenges associated with Wolkems two
operations, the Belka Pahar and Kheratala mines, located in a
hilly and forested area in the Siroshi district of
India then started to steadily
increase production from 35,000 tonnes in 1990 to 160,000
tonnes in 2008 (see Table 2), owing in the main to
Wolkem production, which is now worlds leading
Wolkem supplies grades for the
polymers, coatings, building material, ceramics, friction and
metallurgical applications. Wolkem supplies the Indian market
but mainly exports its wollastonite to Europe, south-east Asia
and Asia Pacific.
As with US wollastonite producers,
India has been impacted in a similar way by the financial
crisis. Interestingly, domestic demand has not reported an
actual decline just a slowing of growth, but there was a
substantial reduction in demand from overseas customers.
Gaurang Singhal, Wolkems
director, revealed to IM that, even though
domestic sales are growing marginally exports sales were
adversely affected to the polymer, automobile, building
material and friction applications.
However, Wolkem sustained
production in 2008/09 and expects the export markets to pick up
Before the recession, the
wollastonite industry in India had to face challenges such as
the fluctuation in currencies (euro and dollar versus rupee) in
addition to logistics costs and availability of containers. As
the recession gripped logistics costs and availability became
favourable, but demand fell.
Now that the market is starting to
show signs of recovery, a slight increase in sea freights from
India is expected compared to 2008-2009 levels.
Singhal believes that the future is
bright: It is time to invest in new product developments
and to develop new applications for this mineral, he
declared to IM, explaining that the areas with
more potential included polymer markets, (coated and uncoated)
with high aspect ratio and extremely fine grades.
Demand for wollastonite in India
should increase this year compared to 2008-2009. The
Governments stimulus to revive the economy and
investments in infrastructure will have a positive impact on
wollastonite sales, he forecasted.
However, the director of Wolkem
believes that sales related to automobile sector will
remain subdued until mid-2010.
Table 1: Major wollastonite
||Location of operations
||Production capacity (tpa)
|Lishu Dadingshan Wollastonite Co. Ltd.
|Sanyi Mining Development Co. Ltd.
|Xinyu City South Wollastonite Industry Co. Ltd.
|Lingnan wollastonite Materials Co.
|Woll-union Import & Export Co. Ltd.
|Jilin Shanwei Wollastonite Mining Co. Ltd
|Bosai Minerals/Nanchuan Minerals Group
||Lianxian and Jilin
|Dayu Mineral Materials Co. Ltd. (Dayu Glaze Ltd)
|Anhui Pioneer Mining Co. Ltd.
|Changxing Baixiang Wollastonite Mine Co. Ltd.
|Wolkem India Ltd.
|NYCO Minerals Inc. (Minera NYCO SA de CV)
||45,000 (28,000 in 2008)
|General de Minerales SA
|Minerales y Maquillas del Norte
|NYCO Minerals Inc.
||150,000 (50,000 in 2008)
|RT Vanderbilt Co. Inc
*location shown as provinces.
Source: USGS, IM estimates
\Indias plastics growth
With reported growth rates of
10-12%, Indias plastics market represents considerable
opportunities for filler minerals, including wollastonite
(IM August 09, p.22: Indian plastics to rise
The Indian economy appears to be
already emerging from the downturn, which has had a positive
effect on certain industries reliant on plastics as major
components, such as the automotive and wire and cable
Indias economic growth slowed
to 6.7% last year after three straight years of expansion of at
least 9%, but is on track to grow 7% this fiscal year.
Automotive sales, manufacturing, and cement production have
seen recent improvement.
China v India
For almost 15 years, world
production has been widely dominated by China which produces
more than 50% of the world total (p.27, Wollastonite at a
Starting with about 5,000 tpa
during the 1980s, half of Indias wollastonite output at
that time, China gradually increased its production during the
following decade to reach 250,000 tpa and the status of
worlds leading producer in 1995, overtaking the USA.
In 2008, China produced 325,000
tonnes through a handful of producers with the largest being
Lishu Dadingshan Wollastonite Co. Ltd, with a capacity of
160,000 tonnes in 2008 from mines located in the Jilin and
Liaoning provinces, northeast of China (see table
The company supplies ceramic,
metallurgical, painting, and welding grades in addition to HAR
wollastonite to the domestic market and to Europe, South Africa
and South-East Asia.
producers, however, could not escape the effects of the
economic downturn. Its very tough The global crisis
had a big impact on all industries, Lishu Wollastonite
As is an increasing trend with
Chinas resources, sales restrictions appear to be the
future for wollastonite. Lishu Wollastonite said: The
government does not encourage the exporting of our sources and
focuses more on protecting environment.
According to the Chinese company,
two main factors have impacted the domestic market. Firstly,
the dramatic decrease in demand for wollastonite mainly from
Europe, and secondly, the strong competition from India.
Even though the market is still
depressed, a recovery for China is expected from 2010, most
probably before the USA and Europe. However, the general
picture of the wollastonite world may change again as
Indias production is starting to push ahead.
As Lishu Wollastonite told
IM, in the future the main competition could
be between the two Asian countries. China being affected by
the government policies to control mining sources
resulting in rising mining costs and rising prices. India could
overtake China as the leading low cost source of
Until recently, Finlands
Nordkalk Corp. was the only wollastonite producer in
Europe and one of the top five world producers with an
estimated 16,000-20,000 tpa output (Spain: The
Nordkalk operates the Ihalainen
wollastonite-calcite marble deposit, which is located in
Lappeenranta, south-east Finland, and supplies Europe for
ceramics and plastics, and the Asian plastics industry.
product portfolio includes three product families,
characterised by different aspect ratios and available with
alternative surface treatments for polymer applications:
Nordkalk FW grades (low aspect ratio), Nordkalk Wicroll grades
(medium aspect ratio) and Nordkalk Harwoll - grades (high
Recently the company launched the
Nordkalk Harwoll product series which are fine particle size,
Despite this focus, the company is
still eying new applications, such as high performance
The development projects are
focused into creating new grades and surface treatments into
above mentioned application segments, Anssi Koikkalainen,
sales manager at Nordkalk told IM.
Owing to this, Nordkalk has
reorganised its distribution network in Europe by signing a
pan-European contract with family-owned Grolman Group which
operates a speciality chemical distribution company focusing on
paints and coatings, plastics and rubber, sealants and
adhesives, construction chemicals and printing inks.
According to Koikkalainen, the
wollastonite industry faces different challenges. In the short
term, the industry will strive to cut costs and minimise tied
Koikkalainen believes that the main
challenge is to find a right balance for the stock level
and production capacity in uncertain market conditions in
order to minimise tied up capital but, at the same time,
secure the steady raw material flow to the
Long term, the role of Asia in bulk
wollastonite exports is expected to decrease owing to strong
domestic growth and possible protective governmental acts. This
would force many western customers to find alternative sources
to the Chinese wollastonite.
Many believe now is the time to
improve production ability and consider higher value
Market development is the key
issue in creating new opportunities, he said, adding that
one of the main focal points in research and development will
be to develop more functional and cost effective fillers for
the polymer applications.
Totally new openings are needed to secure the
future growth for the industry in Europe and
North-America, he commented, such as CO2
capture or functional filler for wood plastic composite
Table 2: Wollastonite
* May include Czech Republic, Kenya, North Korea,
Namibia, Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey, Morocco
** Production started in 2003 with 500 tonnes
Source: USGS, IM estimates
Spain: the newcomer
After years of heavily concentrated
global supply, Spain has quietly emerged as a major producer of
wollastonite in what is an industry dominated by only a handful
Crimidesa Group owned Compania
Mineral Ilustracion (CM) is Spains new major wollastonite
producer mining a total of 20,000 tonnes in 2008 at its
CM Illustracion started to exploit
its deposit, located in Aldea del Obispo, Salamanca, in 2003,
with minimal tonnages. According to the company, the deposit
has estimated resources of 26m. tonnes and an extraction
capacity of 100,000 tpa.
Jose Arribas, CMs quality
manager, told IM: We started our
production with about 500 tonnes in 2003, and have increased it
to 20,000 tpa in four years.
The company supplies the ceramics
and casting industries in west Europe to companies such as
Saint Gobain and Arciblansa. It is also expanding its focus to
include container glass supplying Santos Barosa Vidros SA, a
Portuguese producer of container glass bottles. Its material
can also be used for CO2 emission regulation.
As explained by CM, Spanish
wollastonite tends to have a higher iron content than, for
instance, the wollastonite produced in Finland. Therefore, CM
decided to target markets that normally do not use
This may explain why Spain has made
a surprisingly discreet entrance into the wollastonite
industry, with many of the main producers unaware of the
countrys production despite it now producing 20,000
We have developed and
introduced our wollastonite directly to our customers. As they
did not use wollastonite before, the other wollastonite
producers have not noticed any change in the market,
Eventually, 20,000 tpa production
will certainly have an impact on the European market.
On wollastonites downturn,
Arribas echoed the thoughts of other producers around the
world. The Spanish producer is down 20 % on last years
sales and has had to reduce production accordingly.
Could CM start to exploit new
deposits in Spain? At the moment, CM owns just one wollastonite
deposit, Ilustracion, previously owned by Desarrollo de
Recursos Geologicos (DRG).
It has been eyed by a few
wollastonite companies as a possible take-over target but to no
avail until the acquisition by CM Ilustracion.
The company had also started to
look at the Huelva deposit in south Spain. However as the
deposit is a marble quarry with dispersed thin layers of
wollastonite, purification costs would have been
astronomical so the idea was abandoned.
Table 3: Main wollastonite
characteristics and related applications
||Fine particle high aspect ratio; low
hydroabsorptivity; thermal stability and conductivity;
low resin demand; chemical purity
||Increased flexural modulus & heat distortion
temp.; reduced CLTE* and shrinkage; high loadings; low
initial viscosity; fast moulding cycles; low moisture
absorption; good surface finish; fine grades give high
impact, resistance; can be coated e.g. with
||Numerous components manufactured from engineering
alloys and alloy blend; polyurethanes; polypropylene;
thermoplastic, polyolefins; liquid crystal polymers;
polybutylene, terephthalate; polyethylene terephthalate,
acrylics, polyester, silicone
||Acicularity; non-hazardous; pH 9.9; brightness;
||Improved mechanical strength, durability and
weathering; resistance; gloss control; low oil
absorption; high loadings; buffering action; good
initial; brightness; enhances barrier properties
||Industrial coatings; architectural paints; powder;
coatings, roof coatings, black fillers, textured
||Chemical purity & consistency; low melting point
CaO:SiO2 (1,540°C); ratio (close to 1); low
||Good low temperature fluxing and inclusion
modification; properties; prevents re-oxidation; absorbs
non-metallic inclusions; lubricating action; aids uniform
heat transfer; source of CaO
||Continuous casting mould powders; tundish powders;
slag conditioners & inclusion modifiers
||Low softening and sintering temperatures; low LOI*;
high brightness; chemical composition (adds CaO, very low
||Improves green strength; accelerates drying rates;
adds CaO to alkaline glazes; no out-gassing gives
improved glaze strength & surface finish; maintains
high brightness during firing; excellent electrical
insulating properties; improves impact and dimensional
stability (less shrinkage); reduces thermal
||Bodies of ceramic tiles, sanitaryware, tableware and
electrical ceramics. Frits, glazes, stains and
||Acicularity, non-hazardous, chemical stability
||Can improve high temperature stability, inter-laminar
bonding, matrix strength, water drainage, pick-up from
slurry to rolls, and dimensional stability. Will reduce
edges cracking and chipping. Increases fire resistance.
Improves fiber dispersion, durability and weathering
||Numerous cement-based interior and exterior
construction products such as flat corrugated sheets,
slates, and insulation slabs and forms, shingles,
cladding, extruded products, mortars and grouts.
||High aspect ratio; non-hazardous; high thermal and
dimensional stability; medium hardness (4-5 Mohs);
high compressive strength; good heat capacity
||Ease of processing; reduced formulation costs,
improved friction stability. Increased strength,
durability and thermal insulation; reduced wear
||Used in conjunction with other inorganic organic, or
metallic fibres in heavy duty blocks; automobile brake
pads & gaskets; clutch facings; friction papers,
* CLTE = Coefficient of Linear Thermal Expansion; LOI: Loss On
Source: NYCO Minerals, industry sources
New South African production
South Africa could soon return as a
producer of wollastonite by the end of 2009. Namaqua
Wollastonite, which exited the business in 1999 was South
Africas last producer.
Production is expected to initially
be 3,600 tpa for domestic markets increasing to 12,000 tpa for
export to Europe and the USA.
At present, South Africa sources
wollastonite from China.
Also, the South African rand has
strengthened against most foreign currencies over the past year
so imported prices have fallen.
The importers have not passed
on the savings to the end users. With the strong currency,
exports are down as suppliers of the finished products cannot
compete, explained South African trader, Gary Burgess
from Omega Chemicals Pty Ltd.
South Africas wollastonite
market has suffered from shipping delays, an increase in
Chinese raw material prices and poor market conditions along
with slow payment by domestic end-users.
Coatings, resin (glass fibre
replacement) and ceramic body markets have all experience
significant slumps in activity in South Africa, but ceramic
glaze is performing well while brake lining producers are
According to Burgess, recovery is
just 6-8 months away and the wollastonite market faces
interesting opportunities, particularly for the plastic and
coating industries as the market is supplied with a low aspect
On the plastics and coatings
industry, Burgess said: They need technical support,
experimentation and a will on behalf of the local compounders
to look to new areas incorporating functional fillers like
wollastonite for use in engineering plastics.
However with a strong
currency and multinationals exporting masterbatch to South
Africa, the easy road is taken, and all the profits are made in
the developed countries,
There is no competition in
the propylene (PP), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), nylon, or
polyethylene (PE) and the suppliers are protected by tariffs on
imports. These companies are not interested in developing
engineering plastics locally to serve the automotive and allied
industries, he added.
Therefore, the idea of having a new
competitor with a 12,000 tpa-capacity targeting the US and
European markets could be a critical development for the
reduction of exports.
If the local mining operation
could get back into production it would become a major
opposition to the imported products, thus forcing prices down
and creating larger market usage, Burgess said.
India based Wolkem, extracting from
near Udaipur, Rajasthan, is the worlds leading
A third player is vying to enter
the wollastonite market in North America. Ontario based
Canadian Wollastonite owns a wollastonite deposit located
closed to RT Vanderbilt and NYCOs deposits, just over the
US border in Canada.
Canadian Wollastonite has been
working on the project for a while but does not know yet when
it will be able to start production.
Bob Vasily, Canadian
Wollastonites president, told IM that the company had
qualified for significant federal and provincial funding
support, but still needs a firm strategic partner
before committing construction.
We were progressing with
[funding] discussions with several suitable firms, but the
recession has slowed this process considerably, he
Canadian Wollastonite was expected
to establish a demonstration plant in October producing 15,000
tpa wollastonite and 10,000 tpa diopside byproduct but the
decision to build this year has been put off (IM June
09, p.22: Canadian Wollastonite welcomes RTV
We have taken an interim step
and shipped ore to an existing flotation facility which has
been made available to us. We will be performing some of the
testing intended for the demonstration plant there,
According to the company, the
deposit has the potential to produce HAR wollastonite and
diopside as a by-product (see Table 4).
The company has already secured a
deal with local LaFarge cement plant in Bath, Ontario and is
also working with a number of other major firms who are
evaluating the diopside, as well as some new and innovative
There are no other wollastonite
producers in Canada but the country has a few potential
resources which could be developed, the most notable one being
the former Orleans deposit in Lac Saint-Jean, around 550km
north of Montreal.
Table 4: Typical chemical
analysis for main producers
Source: Canadian Wollastonite
Over the last few years, small
scale wollastonite production has cropped up in Namibia,
Morocco, Turkey, Czech Republic, North Korea, and Pakistan. In
Europe, S&B Industrial Minerals process the material.
At present, wollastonite prices are
Pricing is reflective of
current economic conditions but cannot withstand long-term
sustainability, believes Revette of NYCO.
Wollastonite is expected to
continue to offer value and reduce costs of expensive resins
and materials which can accommodate higher pricing.
Commodity products will
continue to be priced very low until more material is consumed
internally within China and India, she explained.
However, the whole industry is
unanimous: prices can only go up, mainly owing to increasing
energy costs and emissions control.
Attempting to forecast the rate of
increase, however, is another question. Even though new
suppliers such as Spain and South Africa (and at some point
Canada) are entering the market, it is still too early to
predict if this could lead to oversupply.
Also, any new milling and
beneficiation technology that could greatly reduce costs for
wollastonite producers is not expected to arrive, according to
Virta of the USGS.
In India and China, prices are also
sluggish and expected to go up step by step, in
China partly because of increasing taxes.
Outside India the prices in
the ceramics and metallurgy markets are extremely low, though
reasonable for high value markets, explained Singhal from
For other bulk volume
markets, prices will remain stable while for low volume markets
the prices may increase slightly, he added.
Table 5: Wollastonite prices
|Wollastonite, acicular, 15:1 to 20:1 aspect
ratio, US ex-works
|Wollastonite, Chinese, tonne Acicular minus,
|Wollastonite, Chinese, tonne Acicular minus,
|Wollastonite, Chinese, Powder grades,
bulk/big bags, 0-250mm lump, China
|Wollastonite, Chinese, Powder grades,
bulk/big bags, 150 mesh, China
|Wollastonite, Chinese, Powder grades,
bulk/big bags, 200 mesh, China
|Wollastonite, Chinese, Powder grades,
bulk/big bags, 325 mesh, China
|Wollastonite, acicular -200 mesh, US
|Wollastonite, acicular, -325 mesh, US
* Price examples quoted in market place at time of press
Recovery to start in Asia
Even though the market is starting
to show signs of recovery, the wollastonite industry may have
to wait until the end of next year before seeing a noticeable
The supply side is fairly stable. A
few companies have tried to start wollastonite mines but the
market conditions have proven too difficult for such
In the USA and Europe, the
financial markets are strengthening and the decline in
manufacturing is widely expected to be close to reaching the
bottom of the trough. However, tight credit,
constructions misfortunes, and relatively high
unemployment will have to be dealt with before any recovery
will be sustainable.
As Singhal explained to IM, after
the end of recession which is expected by mid-2010, the
wollastonite market may stabilise at around the same level as
in 2007-2008 and thereafter may grow at 5-7% per year.
Therefore, the most likely
sustained recovery for wollastonite is foreseen by mid to
It is quite probable that Asia will
lead the way to sunnier days.
Geographically the market
focus is moving towards east. In short term, market development
is likely to be strongest in Asia Ð China and India being
the most important markets, Koikkalainen.
On the market side,
wollastonites fortunes will be closely tied to automobile
production, especially in the USA, followed by the glass
industry. The auto sector is seen as more flexible than
construction, yet also more susceptible to fluctuations.
Therefore in this industry is expected to rebound quicker than
In terms of growth markets, the
plastic industry is expected to go from strength to strength
In the USA, NYCO foresees a later
According to the US producer, the
plastic and automotive markets in Asia and Europe have begun to
improve as the end of 2009 approaches as well as improved
demand from the steel worldwide.
The construction market in North
America continues to be slow with low housing starts compared
to 2008 therefore sustained recovery from 2012 onwards is
With the emphasis on using fewer of
the worlds resources, the properties of wollastonite,
particularly acicular wollastonite, appears to favour its uses
in more highly engineered composites and plastics over some of
And if petroleum prices do not
begin to spike, opportunities in plastics will rise (see
p.52 Minerals realise pipe dream).
The future for producers outside of
China, particularly in the USA and Europe, is adding value to
their product. India will begin to move in this direction but
will still be main volume supplier, along with China, to the
Wollastonites use in carbon dioxide
sequestration - or locking of emissions - is also a
promising new application. But with the uncertainty still
gripping the industry, the biggest immediate challenge is
straddling the divide between weathering the recession and
preparing for a higher value future - whatever the future
Wollastonite at a glance
metasilicate, CaSiO3, (Mineralogy guide: 48.28% CaO,
Property: the only
naturally occurring, white, non-metallic mineral that has an
acicular (needle-like) shape
World production in
2008: about 650,000 tonnes
China (325,000 tonnes in 2008), India (160,000 tonnes in 2008),
the USA (<100,000 tonnes in 2008), Mexico (28,000 tonnes in
2008), Spain (20,000 tonnes in 2007), Finland (16,400 tonnes in
Markets: Plastic, paints and coating,
ceramics, metallurgy, friction materials, construction
Main world producers in
* Construction, friction products, metallurgical
Source: USGS, IM estimates