The trend of consolidation of the
major kaolin producing companies in recent years continued into
2012 with Imerys acquisition of Goonvean and KaMins
purchase of CADAM SA from Vale.
The 15 major producing companies
operating in 1980 consolidated to 12 in 1990 and are now down
to just six. Imerys is the market leader with KaMin, Thiele,
Sibelco, AKW (Quartzwerke) and BASF being the other
In May, US kaolin
producer KaMin LLC purchased a majority stake in CADAM, a
subsidiary of Vale, for $30.1m, placing it firmly as the
second- largest supplier of kaolin in the world.
KaMin and CADAM both supply
products to the paper industry, the largest end use for kaolin
with a 43%-share of the market.
The last independent UK kaolin
producer disappeared in November, as Imerys announced the
acquisition of Goonveans kaolin activities in
All kaolin production from
south-west England will now be produced between just two
companies, with production from Devon controlled by Belgian
producer Sibelco, while Imerys will control kaolin production
The decline of
Production of kaolin from
south-west England is now around 1m tpa, just one third of
totals seen in 1988. The dramatic decrease in kaolin production
is due to a combination of factors, one of which has been the
replacement of kaolin as a filler with precipitated calcium
carbonate (PCC) and ground calcium carbonate (GCC).
Some 87% of the paper market used
kaolin in 1980, but by 2010, 65% of the market was using GCC
due to a switch by papermakers from an acid-based processing
route to an alkali-based route for production.
Orbite Aluminae Inc. agreed to buy
the Chaswood kaolin clay and sand property in Nova Scotia,
Canada from a private company in December.
The property, located in Halifax
County, consists of 163 claims, which span over a
26.1km2 area in central Nova Scotia.
In January, Energizer Resources
Inc. signed a joint-venture deal with Australia-based Malagasy
Minerals Ltd for the exploration and development of a range of
industrial minerals, including kaolin, in Madagascar.
April saw Applied Minerals Inc.,
the US-based halloysite producer, enter into a supply agreement
with Samsung Cheil Industries, a South Korean affiliate of the
In June, Imerys announced that it
was to open its first new kaolin pit in the UK since it opened
Old Pound Pit in 1984, at the existing company operation in
Cornwall, with final restoration scheduled to be completed by
the end of 2018.
I-Minerals Inc. completed its first
production and inaugural sale of feldspathic sand from its
Helmer-Bovill property in Idaho, US, in October 2012.
And in November Ashapura Minechem
Ltd subsidiary, Ashapura International, said it plans to set up
a kaolin powder-making plant at Bhuj in Gujarat, India, making
the company one of the largest kaolin producers in Asia.
Indias estimated kaolin reserves are 2.59bn tonnes.
Kerala has become a hub for Indias kaolin production,
accounting for 24%, followed by West Bengal with 16%.