IM 2012 Round-ups: Talc

By Kasia Patel
Published: Friday, 21 December 2012

2012 saw the declining use of talc as a filler in the paper industry more than offset by good growth of the use of talc in polymers, especially for automobile parts.

2012 saw the declining use of talc as a filler in the paper industry more than offset by good growth of the use of talc in polymers, especially for automobile parts.

Under-the-hood automotive parts require high-aspect ratio talc - preferably high-purity grades - to perform over a wide temperature range.

The largest global end market for talc is still paper, which accounts for 34% of the mineral’s end use. The second largest is the steadily growing polymer market, accounting for 23%, followed by ceramics, 15%, and paint, 12%.

The paper industry is undergoing a transformation, resulting from the impact of electronic media, and has to focus on high-end products and new applications. In the long run, this will be positive for talc, as those specialties contain high-value talc products.

There is growth potential in the plastics industry, especially also in new applications outside the automotive industry.

In November, Imerys attributed increased sales of 36.6% for the company’s performance minerals in filtration business in part to a sharp increase in talc demand for 2012 as the mineral is increasingly used in the automotive industry.

Talc consolidation trend

Mondo Minerals was acquired by private equity group Advent International Corp. from Hg Capital, at the end of 2011. Talc de Luzenac also changed hands in 2011, acquired by France-based Imerys from Rio Tinto for $340m and giving Imerys a total of around one-fifth of the world’s talc production capacity.

New projects

In January 2012, New-York-based Specialty Minerals Inc. (SMI), launched two new talc-based anti-blocking products - Optibloc 8 and Optibloc 325 - for use in plastic film and bag applications.

The PDAC convention in Toronto in March saw Globex Enterprises Inc. outline its expectations for its talc and magnesite mine in Quebec, Canada, following completion of a pre-feasibility study.

The company anticipates to produce 2.47m tonnes of talc and 2.381m tonnes of magnesite over 20 years from the project located 13km from Timmins in Ontario, Canada.

ML Minerals received planning permission in April 2012 for its talc and calcite project in Morocco, situated 80km west of the city of Ouarzazat. The deposit is proven 85m of talc and calcite, which divides roughly as 60% talc and 40% calcite.

In June 2012, leading US mineral processor Cimbar Performance Minerals (CPM) announced it would significantly expand its processing capabilities for barytes, talc, and ground calcium carbonate (GCC) in the US and China.

Elsewhere, CPM is building a new “multi-mineral plant” in Houston, Texas, to produce filler-grade barytes and talc, and expected on stream in June 2013.