Indian talc: Moving up the value chain

By IM Staff
Published: Thursday, 22 October 2015

Home to some of the largest and purest talc reserves in the world, India has the potential to tap into growing markets for higher grade forms of the mineral. Sunder Singh, IM Correspondent, gives an overview of the industry and its major players and reports how some have invested in the technology needed to increase the value of their products.

IndiaTalc1  

A silicate mineral, talc is used in industries like
ceramics, paper and plastics and cosmetics. (Source: Wikimedia Commons )

Brisk growth in India’s coatings, paper, plastics and ceramic industries in recent years has led to a significant increase in domestic talc demand. With some of the largest talc resources in the world, India’s downstream talc consumers are supplied by three large producers-cum-processors and more than 20 medium-sized companies.  

Prior to a slowdown in the last three years, growth in Indian talc consumption has been relatively healthy in the last decade. Growing demand for higher grades of talc and more finely processed products has created opportunities for Indian suppliers, which claim to have some of the purest deposits of the mineral. However, serving these markets has required investment in modern mining and processing methods, which many of its smaller scale miners have been unable to afford.

Around 80% of India’s talc resources are located in the northern states of Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. Total talc and soapstone reserves and resources in India are estimated at 269m tonnes. In terms of geographical distribution, Rajasthan holds 49% of India’s talc, while Uttarakhand contains 29%. The remaining 22% of resources are distributed through the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu. 

By grade distribution, about 22% of Indian talc is paper and textile grade; insecticide grade material makes up 19%; and cosmetic grade accounts for 13%, according to the Indian Bureau of Mines.

Having overtaken the US as the second largest producer of talc globally, after China, which produced 1.9m tonnes last year, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the Indian talc industry continues to develop steadily. In contrast with the global talc industry, which has seen large scale consolidation in recent years, Indian talc mining and processing is still a distinctly two-tier business.

The two largest talc companies, Golcha Group (also known as Golcha Minerals) and Golcha Associated Group (also known in Golcha Talc), both of which are based in the Rajasthan city of Jaipur, are run separately by two brothers and originated out of a single company in 2004. These two businesses dominate the domestic talc production in India. 

The third in the trio of India’s largest talc producers is Jai Group, which is also based in Rajasthan. The majority of the two dozen or so smaller talc suppliers are likewise based in the state. 

In the financial year 2013-14, Indian production of talc and soapstone was 865,000 tonnes, a decrease of around 11% over the previous year. Rajasthan, the principal producing state, accounted for 83% of total production in the last financial year. 

Five principal producers contributed nearly 61% of the total soapstone (also known as steatite) produced. These were: Golcha Associated Group’s subsidiary, Associated Soapstone Distributing Co. Ltd, (25%); Golcha Group’s subsidiary, Udaipur Mineral Development Syndicate Ltd (24%); Rajasthan Minerals & Co. (5%); Ratanlal Deedwaniya (4%); and Katiyar Mining & Industrial Corp. (3%).

There were 130 reporting mines in 2013-14, compared to 133 in the previous year. Besides these 130 mines, production of soapstone was reported from nine mines as an associated mineral product in the last financial year, up from eight mines in 2012-13. Of the main soapstone suppliers, 34 mines produce more than 5,000 tpa (accounting for 70% of the total production), while about 10% of the total output was reported by another 34 mines, each producing 1,000-5,000 tpa. The remainder was produced from 62 mines with individual output of below 1,000 tpa.

Table 1: Talc production and consumption in India


2013-14

2012-13

2011-12

2010-11

Production ('000 tonnes)

865

972

998

903

Value (INR/$)

905.216m

(13.99m*)

888.39m

(13.73m)

878.59m

(13.58m)

618.286m

(9.55m)

Domestic consumption ('000 tonnes)

356

368

369

369

Source: Indian Bureau of Mines


Table 2: Talc exports from India

Exports

2013-14

2012-13

2011-12

2010-11

Quantity 

('000 tonnes)

149,343

117,568

100,562

115,581

Value (INR/$)

2.028bn (31.3m)

1.215bn

(18.8m)

914m (14.1m)

838m (12.95m)

Source: Indian Bureau of Mines


Table 3: Talc exports from India to major importing countries 2013-14

Exports

Thailand

Philippines

Indonesia

UAE

Nigeria

Others

Quantity

(tonnes)

31,477

8,125

11,250

11,245

12,433

74,813

Value (INR/$)

354 (5.47m)

228 (3.52m)

187 (2.89m)

132 (2.04m)

124 (1.9m)

1.003bn (15.5m)

Source: Indian Bureau of Mines

Consumption by end markets

Talc is used mostly in pulverised form as a filler and extender in various industries. Non-pulverised talc is used in the refractories industry. 

According to Indian Bureau of Mines data, total reported consumption of talc in India was 356,000 tonnes in 2013-14. About 56% of this went into the paper industry, followed by the paint and coatings industry, at 20%; pesticides, at 11%; the ceramic industry, at 8%; and cosmetics, at 4%. The remaining nominal consumption was shared by the fertiliser, rubber, textile, chemicals and other industries.

Exports

Exports of Indian talc increased considerably to 149,343 tonnes in 2013-14 from 117,568 tonnes in 2012-13. Talc in different forms was exported to Thailand (18%), Nigeria (11%), Bangladesh (9%), UAE (8%), Malaysia (7%) Indonesia (7%), Kenya (4%) the Philippines (4%), Saudi Arabia (4%) and Japan (2%).

Southeast Asian countries accounted for the largest proportion of talc exports from India in the last financial year. However, in terms of value per unit, exports to Europe were more significant. 

Table 4: Major producers and
processors of talc in India

Company

Location

Avani Group of Industries

Udaipur

Golcha Associated Group

Jaipur

Wolkem Talc India Ltd

Rajasthan

Rajasthan Minerals

Jaipur

Kumoun Georesource

Haldwani

The Good Earth

Ajmer

Tapan Microns

Udaipur

Ankur Mineral Industries

Udaipur

Anupam Talc Private Ltd

Udaipur

Arihant Minchem

Udaipur

Ashirwad Minerals

Udaipur

Kunal Microns

Kolkata

20 Microns

Vadodra

Aravali Minrocks Pvt Ltd

Udaipur

Neelkanth Minchem

Jodhpur

Imports

Imports of talc increased marginally to 2,935 tonnes in the last financial year, from 2,905 tonnes the year before. Out of the total talc imported in 2013-14, soapstone lumps accounted for 195 tonnes and soapstone powder and other forms for 2,597 tonnes. Imports of steatite blocks amounted to 143 tonnes in 2013-14, while other forms of the mineral were imported mainly from China (53% of the total), Italy, Austria, US and Japan.

Substitute products and value addition

As an ordinary filler, talc is applied to reduce production costs and shares applications with calcium carbonate and kaolin. In recent years, higher prices for talc have led to its replacement by other kinds of fillers.

Both the global and the Indian talc industries have changed considerably in the last five years or so. In India, the export profile has shifted from crude talc to ground and micronised talc, with high added value. Demand for high-grade products now exceeds supply, reversing previous trends. Average export prices have been climbing gradually since 2010, with an average annual increase of about 3-4 %. 

India’s talc deposits are exploited both through opencast and underground methods of mining, but apart from a few mines in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, almost all the mines are opencast.

Most soapstone mines in India are worked manually, although some are semi-mechanised and a few are fully mechanised. In the manually worked opencast mines, drilling is sometimes performed by compressor-jackhammer units, while in the semi-mechanised mines, drilling and transport are machine operated but face loading and sorting are carried out by hand. In a handful of mines, small capacity shovel and matching dumpers are deployed for handling waste.

Rising demand for fine powder is prompting the deployment of modern technology in talc mining and processing. Indian-manufactured pulverisers and hammer mills are capable of producing up to 700 mesh powder, but most of the large producers have opted to install state-of-the-art European technology at their plants.

As India’s economic growth remains relatively robust and its expanding middle class demand higher quality products, such as packaging and cosmetics, the outlook for the Indian talc industry is broadly positive. Failure by small companies to invest in the technology needed to produce the higher grades of processed talc required by more lucrative markets could see a rise in domestic industry consolidation, although international competition is a potential threat to even the larger Indian companies.

*Conversions made October 2015

IndiaTalc2  

Packaged powdered talc is one of the high value-added 
products Indian suppliers are investing in manufacturing 
(pictured: Luzenac talc, packaged in 25kg bags). 
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

India’s top talc producers

Golcha Group

Rajasthan based Golcha Group is the largest talc producer in India. Besides India, the company also operates a plant in Thailand (Golcha-Chemintac Co. Ltd Thailand) and warehouses in Europe. Founded in the 1930s in Jaipur, the company manufactures a range of talc products for use in paper, rubber, plastics, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, paints and ceramics, as well as toiletry soaps and washing cakes. It also manufactures perfumed talcum powder. 

In order to tap the growing talc demand in the Southeast Asia region, Golcha Group opened its Thai manufacturing plant in 2009. Located in the Hemaraj Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate, the plant has an installed capacity of 36,000 tpa talc. Around 60% of its production is supplied to leading talcum powder brands in Thailand and the rest to plastic compounding industries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Golcha Group has three operations engaged in soapstone quarrying in Rajasthan. One of its largest talc mines, operated by its subsidiary, Jaipur Mineral Development Syndicate Pvt Ltd (JMDS), which is based in Jamwa Ramgarh WS in Dagota village, is known for the high quality of its talc, which it supplies to cosmetics industry. The mine began operating in 1936 and is partly an opencast pit and partly underground shaft, which extends for around 15km.

According to Sunil Sexana, CEO of Golcha Group, "the lamellarity, whiteness and purity of the Golcha Minerals’ talc are the key factors which give us a competitive edge over the other options available in the global market".

"Our products are absolutely free from any types of bi-minerals like silica and asbestos and hence require no further purification," he added.

Golcha Associated Group 

Golcha Associated Group is the second biggest talc producer and processor in India.  The Jaipur, Rajasthan-headquartered company has major mines and plants in Udaipur and Bikaner. Its captive mines are spread across three mining zones, covering an area of 532.6 ha (5.326km2) in southern Rajasthan and yield around 200,000 tpa crude talc. Golcha Associated Group’s processing plant at Udaipur has a capacity of 100,000 tpa talc powder.

According to Vikram Golcha, the company’s managing director, "Golcha Associated Group has invested heavily in state of the art technology and testing equipment from European technology providers, which enables us to produce one of the best grades of talc for global and Indian markets".

Jai Vardhman Khaniz Ltd

Part of Jai Group, Jai Vardhman Khaniz is India’s third largest talc producer. Initiated in 1954, Jai Group mines, processes and distributes talc as well as a range of other industrial minerals, including mica, dolomite, quartz, feldspar, kaolin, barytes (barite) and bentonite.

The company’s talc mines are located at Bharkundi, around 141km away from Udaipur, and currently produce about 100,000 tpa talc lumps. The company also has fourteen grinding units at Udaipur, with the capacity to process 75,000 tpa talc.

Jai Group claims it has proven reserves of 9m tonnes, which can last for 90 years at current extraction rates. Besides catering for 35% of India’s domestic demand, the company exports its products to more than 40 countries worldwide.

Kumaon Georesource 

Kumaon Georesource Private Ltd (KGPL) operates three mines at Pungar valley in the hill state of Uttarakhand in India. The company claims to mine about 70,000 tpa soapstone lumps.