Kyanite Mining Corp. (KMC), based in Dilwyn,
Virginia, US, was ordered by a Fairfax County circuit judge to
"wind up and liquidate the business and affairs of the
corporation," following a 14-day trial in late 2012.
Today, however, the company reports that things
are proceeding as they always have done for the past 75
"Business is good," Guy Dixon, KMC’s
president and general manager, told IM. He
said it was never the case that the company "had to get back on
its feet," because the legal entanglement "wasn’t
an issue in the first place".
"There was a family squabble, and we ended up
buying out some disgruntled family members (…) Business
was not affected."
The 2012 case was taken by a number of members of
the extended Dixon family against the Disthene Group Inc.
– which owned KMC, the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia
Beach and 28,000 acres (113km2) of landholdings
– controlled by Guy Dixon and his father, Gene Dixon
The plaintiffs maintained that they had been
denied hundreds of thousands of dollars through
management’s reduction of dividends,
undervaluation of shares and general operation of the company
in a manner that was self-indulgent, rather than
value-maximising for shareholders.
IM reported at the time that
judge Jane Marun Roush found that the private family-run
business had a long history of stock manipulation, exorbitant
salaries for company officers and inappropriate use of company
Judge Roush ordered that the company be
dissolved, saying that KMC’s management had
treated its minority shareholders as "irksome interlopers".
This ruling was upheld following an appeal to the
state’s Supreme Court. But in June 2013, the
courts approved a $77m settlement on behalf of minority
The settlement necessitated the sale of the
Cavalier Hotel, but allowed Disthene to retain control of KMC.
The agreement removed the receiver from the company, however it
did not vacate the judge’s opinion finding
oppression and corporate waste.
Kyanite has the chemical
formula Al2SiO5 and is used as a feedstock for
synthetic mullite for refractories applications (
A family institution
KMC has been mining kyanite in Buckingham County,
overseen by the Dixon family, since 1945. It has been a
private, family-run enterprise for three generations.
Its integrated mining and processing operations
produce kyanite from two hard-rock open pit mines and mullite
by calcining the kyanite ore.
Dixon told IM that as a "closely
held private company" it was not KMC policy to give out
production figures. However, US Geological Survey (USGS) data
indicates that it produced 100,000 tonnes in 2014, and similar
levels in preceding years.
Dixon went on to say that while kyanite
isn’t a high growth sector, business remains
Kyanite has the same chemical formula –
Al2SiO5 – as both andalusite and
sillimanite, all of which are naturally occurring, anhydrous
aluminium silicate minerals. Different crystal structures in
each account for different physical properties, which in turn
give rise to different end uses.
Mullite, which KMC also produces, is a mineral
rarely found in nature, but is artificially produced by
sintering or fusing feedstock materials such as kyanite or
KMC produces the world’s largest
volume of kyanite. Small amounts of the mineral have also been
produced in Australia, Brazil, China, Ukraine and
Around 90% of kyanite and mullite output in 2014
was used in refractories. The remaining 10% served a number of
end markets, including abrasive products – for example
motor vehicle brake shoes and pads; grinding and cutting
wheels; ceramic products, such as electrical insulating
porcelains, sanitary-ware, and white-ware; foundry products and
precision casting moulds, according to the USGS.
USGS estimates indicate that 60-65% of the
refractory usage in 2014 was by the iron and steel industries,
the remainder being used by industries that manufacture
chemicals, glass, nonferrous metals, and other materials.
According to the IM Prices
Database, Kyanite prices stand at $225-320/s.ton raw
(ex-works US, 55-60% Al2O3) and
$375-$440/s.ton calcined (55-60% Al2O3,
22 ton lots).
Buckingham County, VA courthouse where the
case surrounding the family dispute was heard (source:
Taber Andrew Bain).