News that French industrial
minerals behemoth Imerys had acquired UK-based kaolin producer
Goonvean (p10) was met with sadness from some in the
industry as it marked the demise of the last independent kaolin
producer in the country.
Kaolin production from the UK
counties of Devon and Cornwall has declined by over 60% in the
last 25 years, down to 1m tpa today from a peak of 3.3m tpa in
1988, due largely to the replacement of kaolin as a filler with
precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) and ground calcium
But the sale to Imerys is not a
wave goodbye to Cornish kaolin production, as the deposit will
continue to produce at a rate of 1m tpa under its new
Export levels are expected to
remain unchanged, with 90% of the clay produced from the area
being shipped abroad, leaving just 10% for the UK market.
The UK has a long mining history
that goes back several thousand years, although many of the
nations deposits are now either out of use or
Bentonite, also known as fullers
earth (p40), has been worked in England since the
Roman Times, according to a 2006 report by the British
Geological Survey (BGS).
Deposits in the Redhill-Nutfield
area of Surrey were seen as the most important source in the
UK, accounting for around 65% of the cumulative output, but
production ceased in 1998. In Bedfordshire, Bath and Kent,
production also ceased in the 20 years to 2000.
Yet, despite the steady decline in
the UK mineral industrys fortunes, the Extractive
Industry Geology (EIG) conference held earlier this year at
Edge Hill University, UK, outlined a renewed interest in
developing the nations mineral resources, which include
potash, fluorspar and salt, spurred on by high commodity prices
and security of supply concerns.
According to EIGs Clive
Mitchell: The UK will never be self-sufficient in
minerals but will play its part with new mineral developments
based on new technological solutions to the requirement for
low-carbon mineral extraction.
Graphite projects under the
The UK might not have any graphite
projects in the pipeline, but it will be welcoming key figures
from the global graphite industry to London on 5-6 December for
the 2nd annual Graphite Conference.
As some of the industrys
biggest and most vocal participants take to the stage,
IM has decided to turn the spotlight on some
of the less reported graphite developments underway across the
world, with a special focus on projects in Spain, India, Turkey
and Mexico (p50).
Shipping costs and packaging are
vital vital considerations for any junior miner looking to
bring a project online. It is no coincidence that these days
the reporting of NI 43-101 results usually comes with logistics
stipulations. The cost of freight is often ignored, but can
make all the difference to a projects economics.
This month IM is
holding its third Moving Minerals roundtable event in
Amsterdam. This will not only bring together those working in
the ARA hub (p33) but also discuss new trends in
packaging (p36) and give prospective miners a 101 back
to basics look at bringing a mine from conception to