Rajesh Raitani, member SME,of Cytec Industries Inc., is chair of the Industrial Minerals & Aggregates Division's Technical Committee.
Their help makes possible this July industrial minerals issue. On behalf of ME readers, the editors thank them.
Four companies - H.C. Spinks Clay Co., Inc., Imerys. Old Hickory Clay Co., and Unimin Corp. - mined ball clay in four states in 2013. On the basis of preliminary data, production was 1 Mt (1.1 million st) with an estimated value of $47 million. Production increased by 3 percent in tonnage from 973 kt (1.1 million st) with a value of $45.1 million in 2012. Tennessee was the leading producer accounting for 64 percent of domestic production, followed by Texas. Mississippi and Kentucky. About 67 percent of total ball clay production was airfloat, 22 percent was crude or shredded and 11 percent was water-slurried.
In 2013, domestic ball clay producers sold clays to the following markets: ceramic floor and wall tile (44 percent); exports (21 percent); sanitaryware (18 percent); miscellaneous ceramics (9 percent); fillers, extenders and binders, and unspecified uses (4 percent each), based on 2012 end use patterns and current markets. Other markets accounted for less than 1 percent of the remaining ball clay sales or use. Sales reported for the manufacture of fiberglass or most filler, extender, and binder applications were likely to have been mainly kaolin mined or purchased by the ball clay producers.
The average value of domestically produced ball clay was approximately $47/t ($43/st) in 2013 compared with $46/t ($42/st) in 2012, on the basis of a preliminary survey of domestic ball clay producers. The unit values of exported and imported ball clay were $ 126/t ($114/st) and $373/t ($338/st), respectively, in 2013, compared with $62/t ($56/st) and $314/t ($285/st), respectively, in 2012. Unit values for most large export shipments increased in 2013, and a larger number of low-tonnage, high-value export shipments were shipped in 2013 than in 2012, resulting in a doubling of the average export value. Two lowtonnage, high-value shipments in 2013 accounted for the increased value of imports.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, imports of ball clay in 2013 were 4681 (516 st), valued at $174,000, compared with 436 t (481 st), valued at $137,000 in 2012. Most of the ball clay was imported from the United Kingdom. Exports were reported by the U.S. Census Bureau to be 52.2 kt (57,500 st), valued at $6.6 million, in 2013 compared with 74 kt (81.600 st), valued at $4.58 million, in 2012. Major destinations for exported ball clay were, in decreasing order, Belgium, a major European transshipping center, Venezuela and Nicaragua. These three countries received 58 percent of U.S. ball clay exports. United States producers typically report two to three times more exports than reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. A sizable tonnage of ball clay exports shipped from the United States to Mexico may be classified as kaolin, based on import trade statistics published by the Mexican Ministry of the Economy.
The outlook for the ball clay industry is for increasing sales as the U.S. economy continues to recover from the economic recession. Commercial building and home construction activities, which are critical to ball clay sales because of its use in the manufacture of ceramic tile and sanitaryware, increased significantly in 2013. The U.S. Census Bureau reported starts for privately owned housing units were 923.000 in 2013 compared with 781,000 in 2012, an 18-percent increase. The value of residential and nonresidential construction put in place in 2013 increased by 5 percent to $898 billion from $857 billion in 2012. Additionally, foreclosure issues in many parts of the United States are being resolved, reducing the number of vacant residences on the market. Despite these improvements, housing starts still remain lower than prerecession rates.
Domestic sales of ball clay also are affected by imports of ball clay-based products such as ceramic tile and sanitaryware. In 2013, imports of ceramic tile decreased in quantity to 5.58 Mm2 (60.1 million sq ft) valued at $64.7 million from 5.86 Mm2 (63.1 million sq ft) valued at $62.1 million in 2012. The leading sources of tile under Harmonized Tariff Schedule codes 6907.10.00, 6908.10.10, 6908.10.20, 6908.10.50 were, in decreasing order by quantity, China (22 percent); Mexico (21 percent); Italy and Turkey (10 percent each); Brazil (7 percent); and Colombia, Peru and Spain (5 percent each). Imports of sanitaryware increased to 29.7 million units in 2013 from 25.2 million units in 2012. China accounted for 14.7 million units (49 percent) and Mexico accounted for 11.6 million units (39 percent) of U.S. sanitaryware imports in 2013. Imports of tile and sanitaryware from Mexico were not of as much of a concern to the domestic ball clay producers as those from China, because U.S. producers are major suppliers of ball clay to the Mexican ceramic industry. The increase in building activity suggests that growth in domestic ball clay sales in 2014 may be about the same as in 2013. *
The United States relies on imports for nearly all of the bauxite that it consumes. Small amounts of bauxite and bauxitic clays are produced in Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia for nonmetallurgical uses.
Metallurgical-grade bauxite (crude dry) imports in 2013 totaled 9.8 Mt (10.1 million st), 5 percent less than the quantity imported in 2012. Jamaica (48 percent). Guinea (26 percent) and Brazil (25 percent) were the leading suppliers to the United States in 2013. In 2013, 131 kt (144,400 st) of refractory-grade calcined bauxite was imported, a 58-percent increase, compared with
Restocking of inventories was cited for the increased imports of refractory-grade calcined bauxite as exports of bauxite-based refractory products decreased, compared with 2012. Domestic steel production, the principal use for bauxite-based refractory products, decreased by about 2 percent in 2013, compared with production in 2012. China (49 percent) and Guyana (44 percent) were the principal sources of U.S. refractory-grade calcined bauxite imports.
Imports of nonrefractory-grade calcined bauxite in 2013 totaled 455 kt (501,500 st),40 percent more than the quantity imported in 2012. This increase was attributed to increased use of bauxite in cement, as proppants for hydraulic fracturing by the petroleum industry and by steel makers. Guyana (38 percent), Australia (28 percent) and Brazil (20 percent) were the leading sources.
In 2013, the United States exported 9 kt (9,900 st) of refractory-grade calcined bauxite, an increase of 40 percent from exports in 2012, with Canada (72 percent) and Mexico (7 percent) the leading destinations. In 2013, the United States exported negligible amounts of nonrefractory-grade calcined bauxite, compared with about 13 kt ( 14,300 st) exported in 2012. Exports of crude dry bauxite totaled almost 4 kt (4,400 st),59 percent less than exports in 2012, with Canada (82 percent) as the leading destination.
Domestic production of alumina in 2013 was estimated to be 4.1 Mt (4.6 million st), 7 percent lower than in 2012. The decrease in production was attributed to lower production at Ormet Corp.'s 540-kt/a (595,000st) Burnside, LA refinery. Two-thirds of its capacity was shut down in August, and the remaining one-third of its capacity was shut down in October.The refinery was sold to Almatis GmbH and restarted in mid-December.
Imports of alumina totaled 2.05 Mt (2.26 million st) in 2013, 8 percent more than imports of alumina in 2012. Australia (37 percent), Suriname (35 percent) and Brazil (12 percent) were the leading sources. Exports of alumina totaled 2.25 Mt (2.48 million st) in 2013, 27 percent more than exports in 2012. with Canada (35 percent), Egypt (17 percent) and Iceland (13 percent) the leading destinations.
Total domestic consumption of bauxite (in crude dry equivalents) was estimated to be 9.8 Mt (10.1 million st) in 2013,2 percent higher than in 2012. Of this total, approximately 8.8 Mt (9.1 million st) was used for producing alumina. 6 percent lower than in the prior year. Other uses of bauxite included manufacturing abrasives, cement, chemicals and refractories, as well as uses in the petroleum industry, steel production and water treatment.
Total domestic consumption of alumina by the aluminum industry was 3.89 Mt (4.29 million st) in 2013, 6 percent less than 2012. Approximately 490 kt (540,000 st) of alumina was consumed by other industries in the United States in 2013,16 percent less than the amount in 2012. Other uses of alumina included abrasives, cement, ceramics and chemicals.
Prices for imported and exported bauxite varied depending on the source, destination and grade. Unit values for imported refractory-grade calcined bauxite in 2013 from the principal sources were $813/t ($737/ st) from Brazil (5 percent increase), $480/t ($435/st) from China (slight decrease) and $441 It ($400/st) from Guyana (slight decrease).
In 2013, values for imported nonrefractory-grade, calcined bauxite from the principal sources ranged from $56/t ($51/st) from Australia (20 percent decrease), to $65/t ($59/st) from Greece (12 percent increase). The average value for crude dry bauxite imported in 2013 was $30/t ($27/st), 7 percent higher than in 2012. The average price for alumina imported in 2013 was $396/t ($359/st), 3 percent lower than in 2012.The average price for alumina exported from the United States decreased by 11 percent in 2013 to $400/t ($363/st), compared with the price in 2012.
Low prices for aluminum continued throughout 2013 and into the first quarter of 2014. Low aluminum prices and high power costs were cited as reasons for the shutdown of one domestic primary aluminum smelter during 2013 and for another announced in the first quarter of 2014. New power supply agreements were reached between the owners and power suppliers of three primary aluminum smelters in late 2013 and early 2014. However, the owners of two other smelters were trying to negotiate power supply agreements to lower electricity prices.
Although aluminum prices have stabilized during the first quarter of 2014, alumina demand would be dependent upon new power supply agreements for some smelters. Although natural gas prices in the United States continued to rise during the past year, relatively low prices were expected to continue providing a cost advantage for domestic alumina refineries over those in Europe during 2014.
Imports of refractory-grade calcined bauxite were expected to depend on steel production, but substitution of aluminum for steel by automakers seeking to improve fuel efficiency might reduce demand for steel and refractory products used in steel making. Consumption of nonrefractory-grade, calcined bauxite was expected to increase in 2014 with further use in abrasives, cement and hydraulic fracturing by the petroleum industry. *
In 2013, the bentonite industry remained unchanged from 2012. with total production and sales in the United States at 4.95 Mt (5.4 million st), versus 4.98 Mt (5.5 million st) in 2012. Swelling-bentonite production occurred with Wyoming leading production, followed by Utah, Montana. Texas. California. Oregon. Nevada and Colorado. Recovery from the United States and world recession (2007-2009) appears to be generally complete as of 2011. however housing production and related bentonite construction use is finally beginning recovery. Swelling-sodium bentonite dominated nonswelling calcium bentonite in North America (United States and Canada) with more than 97 percent of the total bentonite market. The non swelling-bentonite production occurred in Alabama, Mississippi, Arizona, California and Nevada. The major uses of non swelling bentonite were in foundry sand binder, water treatment and filtering.
On a world scale, major producers of sodium activated bentonite are in Greece. China, Egypt and India. AMCOL (formerly American Colloid Co.) continues to be the leading sodium bentonite producer with about 40 percent of the market, while BPM Minerals LLC (part of Halliburton), has about 30 percent of the U.S. market. Other major sodium bentonite producers are MI-LLC, Black Hills Bentonite and Wyo-Ben. No new bentonite producers started in 2013. Wyo-Ben Inc. opened a new mine near Thermopolis, WY. Reserves at that deposit are expected to last at least 10 to 20 years. Raw material costs were stable, while truckload rates were unchanged in 2013.
In 2013, drilling-grade bentonite for the drilling and recovery of oil and gas was the largest use of swelling bentonite, with about 1.15 Mt (1.26 million st) produced. The active drilling rig count continued to increase during 2013, confirming the return of oil and gas drilling. In particular, horizontal drilling for shale production was a major application for bentonite usage.
The clumping pet litter absorbent market is the second largest market for granular swelling bentonite. Although clumping pet litter reached 1.24 Mt (1.36 million st) in 2005.it has hovered between 1.05 and 1.08 Mt (1.15 and 1.19 million st) for several years, with the 2013 market at about 1.05 Mt (1.15 million st).
Iron ore pelletizing with swelling bentonite is the third largest market, growing to 550 kt (606.000 st) in 2013 as the demand for iron and steel increased with U.S. automobile and heavy equipment production.
The use of swelling bentonite as a foundry sand binder for iron, steel and other metals averaged above 500 kt (550,000 st) since 2011. New product inventions have not significantly affected these four large granular and pulverized swelling bentonite markets.
The bentonite market for civil engineering applications, separately classified beginning in 2005. was 175 kt (192,000 st), showing that this market is beginning to recover from the 2008 recession. The water-proofing and sealing bentonite market continued to increase with the construction industry after the U.S. recession to 150 kt (165,000 st) in 2013. Other minor swelling-bentonite markets for adhesives, animal feed, fillers and extenders and miscellaneous applications have not generally recovered from the 2008 recession.
Specialty markets for a tiny portion of the bentonite market include beverage and wine clarification, and organoclay products. AMCOL, Southern Clay Products, Sud Chemie and Elementis Specialties Inc. are pursuing the nano-composite market for bentonite. Elementis's multiyear expansion of its Newberry Springs, CA, plant for swelling hectorite doubled its previous production capacity and is more energy efficient. Elementis continues to develop lower cost organoclay products, such as Bentone 910, Bentone 920 and Bentone 990 for oil-based drilling fluids.
The U.S. dollar exchange rate has helped swelling bentonite exports since the 2008 worldwide recession. In 2013, domestic bentonite producers reported that exports of bentonite for drilling mud, foundry sand binder and other miscellaneous markets reached 950 kt (1.05 million st). Minor imports of bentonite came from Canada. Mexico and Greece in 2013.1
Bismuth is a heavier element chemically related to antimony. It is a byproduct of lead and tungsten extraction and, to a lesser extent, of copper and tin extraction. Antimony is a lighter chemical element. It is an extraction coproduct of metals such as lead, silver and gold. The major uses of bismuth and antimony are as chemical compounds.
Bismuth compounds and antimony compounds and related nonmetallic uses account for most of the consumption of these chemical elements. Very little is used as a metal or alloy.
The largest end-use group for bismuth is the chemicals group, which includes pharmaceuticals such as stomach medicine (Pepto Bismol) (bismuth subsalicylate), cosmetics for a pearlescent effect under the eyes (bismuth oxychloride), catalysts and other chemical uses such as paint (bismuth vanadate yellow).
The next most important end-use group of bismuth is the metallurgical additives group, whose components prevent the crystallization of graphite from molten steel supersaturated with carbon, facilitate free machining in steel, copper and aluminum and facilitate an even coat in galvanizing. For all of the applications in this additives group, bismuth is not acting as an alloying agent but more like a catalyst that discourages, encourages or creates certain reactions or properties. Steel needs only 0.1 percent bismuth or selenium to give it good machinability. In comparison with these end-use groups, the bismuth alloy group accounts for a minor amount of bismuth, which is used in fusible alloys, other low-melting point alloys and in ammunition.
The largest use of antimony is in the flame retardant group, mostly in treating plastics, adhesives and textiles. Antimony oxide has a special role among flame retardants as a gas phase radical quencher, amid a variety of mostly halogenated materials that are used as flame retardants.
The other nonmetal product group includes major uses in pigments and in glass (including ceramics). Antimony oxide in most glasses and ceramics acts as an opacifying agent, but antimony in specialty glasses can clarify them. The antimonial lead and alloys group mostly comprises the antimonial lead used in gasolinedriven automotive storage batteries.
Recyclability ranges from the nearly impossible, (the bismuth in stomach medicine and cosmetics because it is completely scattered) through lessening degrees of difficulty, such as antimony in flame retardants, bismuth in metallurgical additives and galvanizing, antimony additives in glass, and bismuth in catalysts. The easiest, simplest and cheapest recycling occurs with bismuth in fusible and other alloys and antimony in the antimonial lead plates of storage batteries.
U.S. imports of bismuth metal, the largest-volume category, was 1,699 t (1,872 st) in 2012 and 1,708 t (1,882 st) in 2013, essentially unchanged. U.S. imports of antimony oxide, the largest volume category, was 20.7 kt (22,800 st) (gross amount) in 2012, and 21.9 kt (24,100 st) in 2013, a minor increase. Two months data for 2014 suggests a continuation of this pattem. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) no longer publishes its quarterly bismuth consumption survey.
The 2011 (latest published) annual end-use totals for U.S. bismuth consumption were 222 t (245 st) for the metallurgical additives group and 54 t (59 st) for bismuth alloys. The balance was mostly for chemicals, 6681 (736 st).
The USGS apparent antimony consumption in the U.S. was 21.7 kt (23,900 st) in 2012 and 24 kt (26,500 st) in 2013.
In the absence of most data, the results for 2013 were almost unchanged for bismuth. For antimony, examining limited data, 2013 consumption should be about 10 percent above 2012. For 2014, bismuth seems likely to stay static and antimony drop off a little.
Four minerals account for 90 percent of the borates used by industry worldwide - the sodium borates, tincal and kernite; the calcium borate, colemanite; and the sodium-calcium borate, ulexite. Borax is a white crystalline substance, chemically known as sodium tetraborate decahydrate, found naturally as the mineral tincal. Boric acid is a colorless crystalline solid sold in technical, national formulary and special quality grades as granules or powder and marketed most often as anhydrous boric acid. Deposits of borates are associated with volcanic activity and arid climates, with the largest economically viable deposits located in the Mojave Desert of the United States near Boron. CA, the Alpide belt in southern Asia, and the Andean belt of South America. Resource or reserve quality is typically measured as a function of its diboron trioxide (B,0,) equivalent content.
U.S. production of boron minerals and compounds increased slightly in 2013 from 2012; the total is withheld to avoid disclosing company proprietary data. Two companies in southern California produced boron minerals, primarily sodium borates. Rio Tinto Borax (a wholly owned subsidiary of United Kingdom-based Rio Tinto Minerals pic) extracted kernite and tincal by openpit methods at its Boron, CA, operation. The minerals were processed into boric acid or sodium borate products in a refinery adjacent to the mine and shipped by railcar or truck to North American customers or distributed internationally through the Port of Los Angeles. Specialty borates, such as agricultural, wood preservative, and flame retardant products, are made at Borax's Wilmington, CA. plant. Searles Valley Minerals, Inc. (SVM) produced borax and boric acid from potassium and sodium borate brines at its Searles Lake operation near Trôna, CA. The brines were refined into anhydrous, decahydrate and pentahydrous borax in SVM's Trôna and Westend plants.
Boron minerals and chemicals were principally consumed in the north-central and the eastern United States. The estimated distribution pattern for boron compounds consumed in the United States in 2013 was glass and ceramics, 80 percent; soaps, detergents and bleaches, 4 percent; agriculture, 4 percent; enamels and glazes, 3 percent and other uses, 9 percent. Boron is used as an additive in glass to reduce thermal expansion; improve strength, chemical resistance and durability; and provide resistance against vibration, high temperature and thermal shock. Insulation and textile fiberglass represent the largest single use of borates worldwide.
Boron was the most widely used micronutrient in agriculture, applied primarily to promote seed production. Boron fertilizers were mostly sourced from borax and colemanite owing to their high water solubility, allowing boron fertilizers to be delivered through sprays or irrigation water.
United States exports of sodium borates were 650 kt (716,000 st) in 2013, a slight increase from 646 kt (712,000 st) in 2012. Boric acid exports remained unchanged at 190 kt (209,000 st). The unit value for boric acid exports increased to $910/t ($825/st) in 2013 from $816/t ($740/st) in 2012. The leading recipient of exported boric acid in 2013 was the Republic of Korea, which accounted for 20 percent. Imports of boric acid in 2013 were 53 kt (59,000 st), about 4 percent less than those of 2012. About 64 percent of imported boric acid in 2013 originated from Turkey. The unit value for boric acid imports was $687/t ($623/st) in 2013, an increase from $782/1 ($709/st) in 2012.
Turkey and the United States led the world in the production of borates in 2013. Excluding U.S. production, world production of borates in 2013 was estimated to be 4.9 Mt (5.4 million st) gross weight, an 11 percent increase from that of 2012.
Argentina was the leading producer of boron minerals in South America. Recent increases in Argentine borate production, boric acid in particular, have been driven in large part by increased borate demand from the Asian and North American ceramics and glass industries.
China operates more than 100 active borate deposits in 14 provinces. Chinese boron resources, however, are of low quality, averaging around 8.4 percent B,03, in comparison to Turkish and U.S. reserves, which have grades ranging from 26 percent to 31 percent and 25.3 percent to 31.9 percent B,Ov respectively. China has become more import-reliant on borate products from Russia, South America, Turkey and the United States.
Roskill Information Services estimated that global borates demand would increase between 4.5 and 4.7 percent per year through 2014, driven in large part by increased consumption in the glass industry. In particular, boron consumption by the global fiberglass industry was projected to increase by 7 percent through 2013, spurred by a projected 19 percent increase in Chinese consumption. Europe and emerging markets are requiring higher energy efficiency, which directly correlates with higher consumption of insulation fiberglass. With a modest economic recovery forecast to continue, U.S. fiberglass demand is projected to expand slightly through 2014. *
The element bromine is found principally as a dissolved species in seawater, evaporitic (salt) lakes and underground brines associated with petroleum deposits. Seawater contains about 65 parts per million of bromine or an estimated 100 Tt (1.1 trillion st). In the Middle East, the highly saline waters of the Dead Sea are estimated to contain 1 Gt (1.1 billion st) of bromine. Bromine also may be recovered from seawater as a coproduct during evaporation to produce salt.
All production of bromine in 2013 in the United States was from underground brines in Arkansas, where it was the leading mineral commodity produced in the state in terms of value. Albemarle Corp. and Chemtura Corp. recovered bromine and accounted for about 30 percent of world production capacity. The United States was one of the four top producers along with China, Israel and Jordan.
Domestic production data for elemental bromine were withheld in 2013 to avoid disclosing company proprietary data, but the United States accounted for less than one-third of world production. In 2013, U.S. imports of bromine and bromine compounds were estimated to be 46.7 kt (51,400 st), gross weight, compared with 65.2 kt (71,800 st) in 2012, and exports were estimated to be 33.1 kt (36,500 st), gross weight, compared with 20.6 kt (22,700 st) in 2012. U.S. apparent consumption for 2013 was estimated to be less than that of 2012.
Excluding the United States and Jordan, global bromine production in 2013 was estimated to be about 305 kt (336,000 st), about the same as in 2012. U.S. data were withheld to avoid disclosing company proprietary data. Official data on bromine production in Jordan likely include some double counting. Bromine production capacity at the single operation in Jordan was reported as 100 kt/a (110,000 stpy) of elemental bromine, after capacity doubled with the completion of an expansion project in March. Data published by the government of Jordan appear to include elemental bromine and derivative chemicals.
Although no actual price lists were available from U.S. bromine producers, bromine prices were thought to have been relatively stable in 2013. In addition to tight supplies, price increases can be influenced by changes in the costs of energy, raw materials, regulatory compliance and transportation.
The primary uses of bromine compounds are in flame retardants, drilling fluids, brominated pesticides (mostly methyl bromide) and water treatment. Bromine is also used in the manufacture of dyes, insect repellents, perfumes, pharmaceuticals and photographic chemicals. Other products include intermediate chemicals used to manufacture still other chemical products, as well as bromide solutions used alone or in combination with other chemicals. Some bromide solutions were recycled to obtain elemental bromine and to prevent the solutions from being disposed of as hazardous waste.
The use of bromine in flame retardants is declining because of the environmental considerations and potential health effects related to specific bromine flame-retardant compounds. In 2010, U.S. bromine chemical producers and importers reached an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to voluntarily phase out the production, importation and use of decabromodiphenyl ether (Deca-BDE), a widely used flame retardant, in all consumer products by December 2012 and in all products by the end of 2013. Canada and the European Union already had banned the use of Deca-BDE in computers, televisions, and textiles.
Several companies continued to pursue the use of bromine to mitigate mercury emissions at power plants as a new market. Bromine compounds bond with mercury in flue gases from coal-fired power plants creating mercuric bromide, a substance that is more easily captured in fluegas scrubbers than the mercuric chloride that is produced at many facilities. Wide acceptance of the new technology would likely increase demand for bromine, counteracting, at least in part, the decline expected from the ban on Deca-BDE.
Future growth in bromine consumption likely will be driven by increased use of flame retardants in developing countries as they begin to introduce more stringent flammability standards and begin to use more plastic materials. Other growth areas are agricultural and pharmaceutical intermediates, food safety applications, mercury reduction at coal-fired power plants, oil-well-drilling fluids, rubber additives and water treatment chemicals. Once a widely used pesticide, methyl bromide has been banned because of its ozone-depleting properties, and its use is allowed only where critical use exemptions have been granted. The amount of methyl bromine allowed through exemptions has declined steadily since 2005, when the ban was enacted. Bromine use will likely continue to decline in photographic applications because digital imaging has replaced film in most consumer and professional photography. *
The U.S. portland cement industry had a welcomed improvement in shipments and prices in 2013. The forecast increase in demand issued in early 2013 of 8.1 percent was not quite realized, but shipments in 2013 of portland, blended and masonry cements did increase by 4.5 percent to 84.1 Mt (93 million st). Continued growth in shipments is forecast for 2014 at an expected rate of 8 percent. This encouraging trend is attributed to expected increases in all forms of construction driven by pent-up demand for housing and other factors.
Estimated shipments at year end 2013 totaled 80.2 Mt (88 million st) of portland cement, 1.75 Mt (1.9 million st) of blended and 2.1 Mt (2.3 million st) of masonry cement, an increase of 3.75 Mt (4.1 million st). Imports, reported as 6.4 Mt (7 million st) of grey and white portland and masonry cements, were up by 200 kt (220,000 st), about 2.9 percent. Imported clinker increased by 20 kt (22.000 st), about 2.6 percent, to 806 kt (888,000 st). Resumption of cement imports by independent cement importers appears to be minimal. Shipments of imported cement reported to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) by producers and importers were within a few thousand tons of U.S. Customs data. The difference may be due to inventory changes.
Production of portland, masonry and blended cement increased in 2013 by about 3.4 Mt (3.7 million st) (4.6 percent) to 77.4 Mt (85 million st). Demand for blended cement increased by 100 kt (110,000 st) and for masonry cement by 150 kt (165,000 st) in 2013.The author estimates inventories of cement were reduced by about 175 kt (192,000 st) compared to year end 2012. Inventories typically increase in the first quarter of the year to meet demand for cement in the April to October peak construction period, when demand exceeds production capacity.
The USGS reported that production of clinker, the intermediate product for the production of cements, increased by 2.2 Mt (2.4 million st) to 69.9 Mt (77 million st) in 2012. Industry capacity of cement is about 100 Mt (110 million st) and 93 Mt (102 million st) of clinker, although this figure includes older plants that may not resume production when demand improves due to a combination of age of the plants and the high cost of complying with the hazardous air pollutant, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide environmental regulations.
White portland and masonry cement U.S. production in 2013 was estimated to be the same as in 2012, about 150 kt (165,000 st). Imports, which were unchanged at 780 kt (860,000 st). principally from Canada (305 kt or 337,000 st) and Mexico (215 kt or 237,000 st), made up the balance of market demand. Demand for white cement appears to have been unchanged.
The raw materials for the production of portland cement clinker are limestone (the source of calcium carbonate), clay and shale and small amounts of mill scale and other forms of iron oxide (the argillaceous sources of silica and alumina and iron oxides). Approximately 97.8 Mt (107 million st) of limestone and 17.5 Mt (19.3 million st) of argillaceous materials were quarried to produce clinker. Cement plants continue to increase their use of waste materials as partial replacement for clay and shale, however quantities are not tracked. Additionally, approximately 3.9 Mt (4.3 million st) of gypsum and synthetic gypsum were used in the production of portland, blended and masonry cement. Substitution of synthetic gypsum for natural gypsum is a cost advantage, but not all plants can do so because of technical and quality issues. An increasing number of plants introduce small quantities of limestone or slag or kiln dust into their cement to reduce the cost of production. ASTM updated the Cl 157 standard of cement allowing the inclusion of limestone and kiln dust as long as the C150 strength standard is met. The amount of dust varies from plant to plant and. in some cases, will be significant depending on customer specifications. The inclusion of these materials reduces the amount of clinker in portland cement, which increases a plant's cement capacity and lowers the cost of production. The amount of slag and other materials with pozzolanic properties in blended cement varies depending on cement strength and market conditions but typically is below the maximum allowed in ASTM 595 specifications.
Coal and petroleum coke are the typical fuels used to fire the rotary kilns and calciners to make cement clinker. It is estimated that coal consumed in production of clinker increased to 8.5 Mt (9.4 million st), an increase of 200 kt (220,000 st) from 2012. The reduction in natural gas prices has had less of an impact on the use of coal and petroleum coke in the industry than expected. The cost of natural gas varies due to plant location and supply capacity but is not less than the cost of coal. Consequently, there is no economic advantage to using natural gas. The high cost of petroleum coke has reduced its use significantly. The use of scrap tires as an auxiliary fuel has had a greater impact on the reduction of coal consumed, as kiln fuel and many kilns are now fired with whole tires, which typically account for 10- to 15-percent of kiln fuel. The economic downturn resulted in less efficient kilns being shut down or mothballed. Production is concentrated in the more efficient, modern calciner-preheater kilns. It is anticipated that the use of alternative fuels, such as refuse-derived fuels, carpet fluff, wood wastes and tires will increase because of cost advantages, although quantities are not tracked or publicly available. These alternative types of fuels have a marginal, but welcome, impact on cost of production.
Increases in imports of cement and clinker in 2013 were modest, totaling 200 kt (220,000 st). A significant amount of the imported clinker is to supply the St. Marys Cement grinding plant in Detroit, MI. The Detroit port of entry accounts for about 87 percent of the total clinker imported. As a result, Canada was the principal source of imported clinker, accounting for 700 kt (770,000 st) of the 805 kt (887,000 st) total. Grey portland cement imports amounted to almost 5.6 Mt (6.2 million st) out of the total hydraulic cement imported of 6.4 Mt (7 million st); the balance being white portland cement. Canada was the principal source of the imported cement (2.9 Mt or 3.2 million st, 52 percent of the total grey and white cement) and the Republic of Korea was in second place (accounting for almost 1.2 Mt or 1.3 million st, 19.6 percent of the total). Greece was in third place accounting for 10.7 percent of cement imports, a significant increase from 2012. To put imports of cement and clinker in perspective, the 2013 total is about 28.7 Mt (31.6 million st) less than in the peak year, 2006. Besides the grinding plant in Detroit, the only other reported plant is in Bellingham, WA, which is a small plant. No clinker import data is recorded into Washington State.
During 2013, the second kiln line at the Hunter, TX plant of Texas Industries came online. Three projects were in construction, the new kiln at the Joppa, IL plant of Lafarge Corp., the modernization of the Ash Grove cement plant at Midlothian,TX and the cement grinding mill at the Maryneal,TX plant of Buzzi Unicem USA, Inc. New plant construction was announced in 2013 to replace the old clinker production kilns at the Maryneal, TX plant of Buzzi Unicem and the Haggerstown, MD plant of Holcim. Announcement of replacements of one or two older plants are expected in 2014, principally because the lead time for permitting is several years and this capacity would not come onstream until 2017. A project mentioned last year in the planning stage, Titan Cement's new plant at Castle Hayne, NC, may move ahead in 2014 depending on permitting progress. Lafarge negotiated a revision to the consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to defer startup of the new kiln at its Ravena, NY plant to July 1,2016.
The Portland Cement Association expects demand for cement in 2014 to increase by 8 percent to about 90 Mt (99 million st) of all types of cement. Some cement producers announced they were able to realize an increase in prices in 2013. The price of cement varies regionally due to transportation cost and proximity to import terminals and other competitive factors. In some areas, price increases have been reported, and producers supplying oil and gas well cement have reportedly realized valuable price increases.
As 2013 drew to a close, Texas Industries was reported to be seeking a buyer and Vulcan Material's Florida cement plant and related concrete facilities were reported to be for sale. Subsequently, in the first quarter 2014, Martin Marietta Materials acquired Texas Industries, and Cementos Argos acquired Vulcan'sFlorida cement plant and concrete facilities, although Vulcan retained their aggregate operations.
In 2013, cement companies were in the engineering and construction phases of projects to bring their plants into compliance with the hazardous air pollutants, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide standards. Considerable improvement in processes to meet the mercury rule at those plants with significant Hg emissions have been achieved. Compliance with these standards has, in some cases, been costly.
The USGS reported that production of clinker, the intermediate product for the production of cements, increased by 2.2 Mt (2.4 million st) to 69.9 Mt (77 million st) in 2012. Industry capacity of cement is about 100 Mt (110 million st) and 93 Mt (102 million st) of clinker although this figure includes older plants that may not resume production when demand improves due to a combination of age of the plants and the high cost of complying with the hazardous air pollutant, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide environmental regulations.
Common clay is a natural, fine-grained material composed of hydrous aluminum silicates. Shale is a laminated, sedimentary rock formed by the consolidation of clay, mud and (or) silt.
In 2013, approximately 120 companies produced common clay and shale in 39 states for heavy clay products, such as brick, flue tile, roof tile, sewer pipe and structural tile, as well as for lightweight aggregate and portland cement.
Estimated domestic production in 2013 was 11.8 Mt (13 million st), valued at $124 million, based on a preliminary survey of the common clay and shale industry. This was a slight increase in tonnage from 11.7 Mt (12.9 million st), valued at $121 million, in 2012.
The leading producing states were, in descending order of tonnage, Texas, Alabama, Ohio, Georgia, Oklahoma, Virginia, California, North Carolina, New York and Missouri. These 10 states accounted for 65 percent of U.S. common clay and shale production in 2013. Companies that mined clay for construction fill and landfill caps and did not operate mills or plants were not included in this review, but they operated in most, if not all, states.
General Shale Inc., a subsidiary of Wienerberger AG, acquired Cunningham Brick Co.'s brick plant in Grover, NC. General Shale indicated that the purchase would allow it to offer a more diversified product line to its eastern U.S. customers. Cunningham Brick's plant in Lexington, NC, which has been idle since 2011, and its Thomasville, NC, plant were to be permanently closed because of the downturn in business following the 2008-2009 economic recession.
Texas Industries Inc. (TXI) finalized the exchange of its expanded shale and clay facilities in Streetman, TX, Boulder, CO and Frazier Park, CA and other assets for ready-mix concrete and aggregate distribution businesses in east Texas and southwest Arkansas, owned by Trinity Industries Inc. TXI indicated that the exchange would allow it to be more vertically integrated, and Trinity indicated that the exchange would allow it to focus more on its core business of sand and gravel and lightweight aggregates.
In 2013,11.8 Mt ( 13 million st) of common clay and shale were sold or used, a slight increase from 2012. The leading markets for common clay and shale were building brick (45 percent of sales or use), portland cement (24 percent) and lightweight aggregates (23 percent). The 2.78 Mt (3.06 million st) sold or used to manufacture lightweight aggregate were subdivided into concrete block (45 percent of the lightweight aggregate market), structural concrete (19 percent), and highway surfacing and miscellaneous lightweight aggregates (18 percent each).
An estimated 250 kt (276,000 st) of common clay and shale was sold for the manufacture of refractory products, mainly refractory mortar and cement, and 181 kt (200,000 st) was sold for the manufacture of ceramic floor and wall tile. Other markets for common clay and shale included miscellaneous ceramics and glass, drain tile, flower pots, flue linings, roofing granules, sewer pipe and structural tile.
The average unit value for all common clay and shale produced in the United States and Puerto Rico was $10/t ($9/st) in 2013, unchanged from 2012. The unit value of common clay and shale sold for lightweight aggregate production was estimated to be $28/t ($25/st) in 2013, compared with $21/t ($19/st) in 2012. The bulk of lightweight aggregate products sold for most applications was valued between $30/t ($27/ st) and $80/t ($73/st).
Unit values for common clay and shale should be used with caution. Most common clay and shale producers do not sell their clay but use it directly to manufacture products and have not established a selling price for their clays.
Major markets for common clay and shale were heavy-clay products such as brick, floor tile, flue linings, quarry tile, roofing granules, roofing tile, sewer tile and structural tile for residential and commercial construction.
The U.S. Bureau of the Census reported that starts of privately owned housing units were 923,000 in 2013, compared with 781,000 in 2012, an 18-percent increase. Despite this, housing starts still remain lower than prerecession rates. Consequently, sales or use of common clay may increase only slightly in 2014.
The U.S. Bureau of the Census reported that starts of privately owned housing units were 923,000 in 2013, compared with 781,000 in 2012, an 18-percent increase. Despite this, housing starts still remain lower than prerecession rates. Consequently, sales or use of common clay may increase only slightly in 2014.
Construction aggregates consist primarily of sand, gravel, crushed stone and, to a lesser degree, iron or steel slag, and recycled asphalt and concrete. Of the natural aggregates, crushed stone is used for most construction purposes. Crushed stone can be mined from a variety of rock types such as limestone, dolomite (dolostone), granite and granitic type rocks, basalt and gabbro (traprock), sandstones, schist, marble, gneiss, quartzite, rhyolite, calcareous marl, shells, volcanic cinder and scoria. Each of these rock types has particular physical and chemical properties that allows the rock to meet certain specifications set forth by the American Society of Testing Materials, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, individual state departments of transportation and individual private companies, such as the railroad.
Some rock types, such as traprock, generally meet all specifications, while others, such as some sandstones, may not. Volcanic cinder and scoria may not meet specifications for a hard, durable aggregate but is used as a source of lightweight aggregate. Calcareous marl maybe used for low-grade base products. It is certainly a raw material used in making cement.
In 2013, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that 2.04 Gt (2.25 billion st) of aggregates were produced and sold in the United States (US). This was an increase of about 3 percent from 2012. Of that volume, 1.19 Gt (1.31 billion st) was crushed stone aggregate, while 848 Mt (935 million st) was sand and gravel.
The leading producing states for crushed stone aggregate were Texas, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Florida and Kentucky. It is almost certain that some of that production reported may have been shipped from Georgia. Several large aggregate producers near Macon, GA rail crushed stone to Florida.
The leading states in sand and gravel production were California, Texas, Minnesota, Washington and Colorado. Sand and gravel production increased about 4 percent from 2012. Except for Texas, the differences in leading states between crushed stone and sand and gravel is the differences in the geology of those states. Pennsylvania, for example, has an ample amount of rock exposed and near the surface for extraction, and Kentucky not only has surface bedrock mines, but but also has underground operations that produce a significant amount of crushed stone. California, Washington and Colorado have an abundance of alluvial fans and colluvium deposits to exploit, while Minnesota's glacial deposits are all easily minable for sand and gravel. The geology of each state plays an important role in the material being mined for construction aggregates.
Since a number of rock quarries and sand and pits need to be near urban areas to transport their product cheaply to the market, the public is exposed to their operations more than any other mining industry. The industry has come a long way in mitigating many environmental concerns of the local citizens. Because about 80 percent of aggregate production is transported by truck, truck traffic remains a concern to the local citizens and is difficult to mitigate.
Dust, noise, blasting, and wetlands and safety issues have been widely mitigated in most operations. Still, the fact remains that opposition from not-in-mybackyard citizens costs the industry undue permitting expenses in new or the expansion of existing rock quarries or sand and gravel pits. Therefore, the industry seems to prefer acquisitions rather than greenfield sites. However, it not uncommon to permit a small rock quarry site or sand and gravel pit. Generally, these sites have limited production and, therefore, little impact on people and the environment.
There were several small acquisitions in 2013. These acquisitions go unnoticed because they are small, local state producers buying a small rock quarry or sand and gravel pit with limited reserves or poor-quality material. Some acquisitions are widely reported such as Martin Marietta's acquisition of TXI. This procedure started in 2013 and finished the early part of this year.
Another acquisition worth noting was Payne & Dolan Asphalt's based (Wisconsin) acquisition of the Vulcan Materials' quarry in Caledonia, WI. The significance is that Vulcan is reassessing its assets to become more focused in a particular geographic area. Vulcan also sold its other four small quarries in Wisconsin.
The Highway Trust Fund is about to run out of money, if Congress does not act. Like many of these funding bills, it will be reauthorized at the last minute. Without this funding, it is less likely for increases to occur in aggregate production for federal and state road and bridge projects. Often, with the passing of this bill, the private sector increases construction projects.
In 2013, the private sector help fuel the aggregate market in larger urban areas, such as DallasFort Worth,TX, Atlanta, GA and Denver, CO. These areas have seen more than a modest increase in aggregate production. The fact remains that 1.6 km (1 mile) of a two-lane concrete highway requires about 7 kt (7,000 st) of coarse and fine aggregate, and 1.6 km (1 mile) of a two-lane bituminous or asphalt pavement requires about 10 kt (11,000 st) of construction aggregates. Therefore, it is essential that the transportation bill be passed for the aggregate industry's continued improvement throughout the United States. *
The United States continues to be the world's leading producer and consumer of diatomite. Production of diatomite in the United States during 2013 was estimated to be 770 kt (849.000 st), a 5-percent increase from 2012 production.
The unit value of diatomite varied widely by end use in 2013. Diatomite used as a lightweight aggregate was priced at $7/t, ($6.35/st) but specialty-grade diatomite. used in art supplies, cosmetics or biomedical applications, was priced as high as $10,000/t ($9,000/ st). Filter-grade diatomite had an average unit value of $384/t ($348/st).
Six companies operated 10 mines and nine processing facilities in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. U.S. diatomite exports were about 102 kt (112,000 st). Imports were much lower at approximately 1 kt (1,100 st).
Diatomite is a chalk-like, soft, friable, very-finegrained. siliceous sedimentary rock. Typically light in color (white if pure, commonly buff to gray in situ), diatomite is also very finely porous, very low in density and essentially chemically inert. Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a common alternate name, but the term is more appropriate for unconsolidated or less lithified rock of the same origin.
Diatomite deposits accumulate in oceans or fresh waters from the cell walls of diatoms, composed of amorphous hydrous silica. Diatoms are microscopic, single-celled organisms, often appearing as colonial aquatic plants (algae). Diatom cells contain an elaborate internal siliceous skeleton. More than 10,000 living diatom species have been identified, in addition to another 10.000 known diatom fossil forms.
The internal structure and inert chemical composition of diatomite make it an excellent raw material for filtration, absorbent and filler applications. Filtration.especially the purification of beer, liquors and wine, and the cleansing of greases and oils, continued to be the largest diatomite end use. Other applications included the removal of microbial contaminants, such as bacteria, protozoa and viruses, from public water systems.
The use of diatomite as fillers and in pharmaceutical applications, including the filtration of human blood plasma, continues to increase, as has its use as an insecticide base and in cement and concrete pozzolan. In 2013, diatomite-derived products included filter aids (56 percent of diatomite consumption), cement manufacture (15 percent), fillers (14 percent), absorbents (13 percent) and other minor uses, including specialized pharmaceutical and biomedical applications (2 percent).
Diatomite deposits are usually mined as openpit operations. If necessary, the mined crude ore is dried and crushed. Dried diatomite is collected in cyclones and fed through air separators to remove coarse material and impurities. Calcination and flux calcination are used to thermally volatize organic material and oxidize iron. Calcination also is used to increase diatomite hardness, specific gravity and refractive index. The fusing of small diatomite particles into clusters can also be accomplished through calcination, which results in increased pore size and volume. Diatomite products are sold as various grades of calcined powders.
Total world production of diatomite was approximately 2.2 Mt (2.4 million st) in 2013. The United States led in diatomite production. Other significant producers in 2013 were China (420 kt or 463.000 st), Denmark (325 kt or 358,000 st), Japan ( 100 kt or 110.000 st). Mexico (85 kt or 94.000 st) and France (75 kt or 83,000 st).
World resources of crude diatomite appear to be adequate for the foreseeable future. However, transportation costs may encourage development of sources of material closer to markets.
Many materials can be substituted for diatomite, especially for lightweight aggregate purposes, such as expanded perlite and silica sand. Synthetic filters, including ceramic, polymeric or carbon membrane, and cellulose fibers offer competition as filter media. Alternate filler materials include clay, perlite, talc, vermiculite, ground limestone, mica and silica sand.
For thermal insulation purposes, materials such as specialty brick, various clays, mineral wool, expanded perlite and exfoliated vermiculite may be used. Many alternatives exist for diatomite as a pozzolan, but its use as an ingredient of portland cement has increased in recent years. However, the encroachment of natural and synthetic substitute materials into diatomite markets has not been significant.
The use of diatomite as fillers and in pharmaceutical applications, including the filtration of human blood plasma, continues to increase, as has its use as an insecticide base and in cement and concrete pozzolan. In 2013, diatomite-derived products included filter aids (56 percent of diatomite consumption), cement manufacture (15 percent), fillers (14 percent), absorbents (13 percent) and other minor uses, including specialized pharmaceutical and biomedical applications (2 percent).
Dimension stone is a natural stone that has been selected and fabricated to specific sizes or shapes. One major type is granite, a visibly granular igneous rock, generally ranging in color from pink to light or dark gray and consisting mostly of quartz and feldspars, accompanied by one or more dark minerals. A second major type is marble, a carbonate rock capable of taking a polish. A third major type is limestone, a rock of sedimentary origin composed principally of calcite (calcium carbonate) or dolomite (calcium magnesium carbonate), or both. Yet another major type is sandstone, a quartz-based sedimentary rock with at least 60 percent free silica and the closely related bluish-gray bluestone. A final major type is slate, a microcrystalline metamorphic rock most commonly derived from shale and composed mostly of micas, chlorite and quartz.
The Overall Dimension Stone [U.S.] ProductionDemand Index was 228 for 2009, 249 for 2010, 271 for 2011, 301 for 2012, and 353 for 2013. Overall U.S. dimension stone demand in 2013 is up almost 17 percent from 2012; both components showed a notable improvement. The Demand Index for granite countertops was 948 in 2008,624 in 2009,807 in 2010, 860 in 2011, 889 in 2012, and 1077 in 2013 (compare to 1066 in 2007). The Demand Index for granite and marble tile was 429 in 2008, 286 in 2009, 270 in 2010,299 in 2011,359 in 2012, and 470 (final) in 2013 (compare 473 in 2007).
Each of the four quarters of 2013, in total, were stronger than that same quarter in 2012, and stronger also for both of its major components, granite and marble.
The world demand for granite, as shown by the total exports of finished stone from its major exporting nations, was 236 in 2010, 271 in 2011, and 279 in 2012, and the world demand for marble, again as shown by exports of finished stone from major exporting nations, was 265 in 2010, 303 in 2011, and 327 in 2012.
The "Compendium of World Dimension Stone Data," by this author, was published by the Marble Institute of America (MIA). A second edition with data for yet more recent years is now underway. The original book, a download still available from the MIA, provides a handy reference to more than two decades of world production statistics for a variety of natural stones by country, separating out not only granite and marble, but also four others. It also includes sales figures for a number of the major world dimension stone producing firms.
The dimension stone wiki covers the major applications (i.e., stone countertops, tiles, and monuments), what stones are used (i.e. marble, granite), and preferred colors. It also describes life cycle assessments, including environmental performance measures such as global warming potential, ozone depletion potential, and toxicity. The data on energy and water use go all the way back to overburden removal and forward through the product.
The major stone sectors are as follows: domestic granite monuments sales in 2014 are likely to be flat with 2013 (granite monuments in 2013 were level with 2012), Indiana limestone sales in 2014 are likely to be up 10 percent from 2013 (Indiana limestone sales in 2013 were up 6 percent from 2012). The outlook for these sales is rendered more uncertain because the post bankruptcy merged Indiana Limestone-Victor Oolitic firm has not operated the old Indiana Limestone plant, and may or may not.
Slate sales (domestic) in 2014 are likely to be level with 2013 sales, and building sandstone and flagstone sales in 2014 are likely to be up 5 percent from 2013, and high-end (custom) up even more. According to the DSAN observers, granite countertop sales in 2014 are likely to be up 10 percent from 2013. Marble tile sales in 2014 are likely to be up 10 percent from 2013. The outlooks above are preliminary, and later versions could appear on the Basics Mines Update blog. *
Four companies mined fire clay in three states in 2013. Production, based on a preliminary survey of the fire clay industry, was estimated to be 185 kt (204,000 st) valued at $4.91 million, a slight increase in tonnage from 2012. Missouri was the leading producing state, followed by Texas and Colorado, in decreasing order by quantity. The number of companies mining fire clay declined in 2013, because several fire clay producers, mainly in Ohio, classified their production as common clay rather than fire clay in 2013 and several common clay producers that occasionally mine fire clay indicated that they did not do so in 2013.
In 2013, about 40 percent or 74 kt (81,600 st) of the fire clay was sold or used for manufacturing bricks, lightweight aggregate and portland cement. The remainder was used for manufacturing fire brick, floor tile, pottery, refractory grogs, refractory mixes and mortars, saggers, wall tile and unspecified or unknown uses.
The estimated average unit value of domestically produced fire clay in 2013 was $27/t ($24/st), unchanged from that of 2012. The average value of exported fire clay was $154/t ($140/st) in 2013 compared to $163/t ($148/st) in 2012. The average value of imported fire clay was $456 ($414/st) in 2013 compared to $172/t ($156/st) in 2012. A large amount of high-value fire clay, possibly a refractory-grade product instead of raw fire clay, imported from China accounted for the bulk of the increase in average import value.
Exports were estimated to be 109 kt (120,000 st) valued at $9.68 million in 2013 compared with an estimated 87 kt (95.900 st) valued at $7.4 million in 2012. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that an additional 159 kt (175,000 st) of fire clay valued at $31.4 million was exported through Charleston. SC. and Savannah. G A. These exports, however, probably were refractorygrade calcined kaolin rather than fire clay based on the ports' proximity to the kaolin industry in Georgia and their distance from the leading fire clay producers. Some of the 102 kt (112.000 st) of fire clay exported through Laredo, TX. also may have been refractorygrade calcined kaolin.
Imports of fire clay reported by the U.S. Census Bureau were 2,520 t (2,780 st) valued at $1.15 million in 2013 compared with 8,0001 (8,820 st) valued at $1.38 million in 2012.
Sales and use of fire clay have been less than 200 kt (220,000 st) for the past two years, far less than the 320 kt (352,000 st) sold or used in 2009. Growth in overall global refractory markets was expected to increase through 2014, although growth in refractory brick and shapes markets was expected to lag behind those for monolithics. Sales of fire clay for refractory uses may remain unchanged in 2013 relative to 2012.
Fire clay also was used to manufacture heavy clay products, such as brick, cement and roofing tile. Sales of these products faced the same issues as common clay and shale, a dependence on increased activity in the private housing and commercial construction sectors to sustain increases in heavy clay markets. Residential and commercial construction expanded in 2012. Privately owned residential housing starts increased by 18 percent to 923,000 in 2013 compared with 781,000 in 2012. The annualized value of residential and nonresidential construction put in place increased by 5 percent to $898 million, compared with $857 billion in 2012. Despite this, housing starts still remain lower than precession rates so sales or use for manufacture of heavy clay products may increase only slightly in 2014. *
World fluorspar demand was flat in 2013 reflecting sluggish world growth and reduced demand for white goods and cars. Acidspar prices were much reduced from the highs of 2011 and much of 2012, and this continues into 2014, while metspar prices have held steady. Nearly all fluorspar (CaF,) consumption in the United States was from imports. Hastie Mining and Trucking Co. produced some fluorspar as a byproduct of its limestone quarry operations in Illinois. In addition, a small amount of usable synthetic fluorspar was produced from industrial waste streams.
In 2013, U.S. fluorspar imports totaled 642 kt (707,000 st), which included 512 kt (564.000 st) of acid-grade fluorspar (acidspar) and 130 kt (143,000 st) of metallurgical-grade fluorspar (metspar). This was an increase of 4 percent compared with 2012 import totals. Mexico was the leading supplier of fluorspar to the United States, accounting for 74 percent of total fluorspar imports. China was a continuing (but decreasing) second with 11 percent, followed by South Africa with 8 percent and Mongolia with 7 percent.
Leading imports, in descending order of quantity, were from Mexico. 352 kt (388.000) of acidspar and 126 kt (139.000 st) of metspar, China 71 kt (78,000 st) of acidspar. South Africa 51 kt (56,000 st) of acidspar. and Mongolia 38 kt (42,000 st) of acidspar and 4 kt (4,400 st) of metspar. Fluorspar exports totaled 27 kt (30,000 st) in 2013, essentially all to Canada and almost all re-exports of imported fluorspar. This was down 20 percent from recent years due to there being no exports to Taiwan. Net imports of hydrofluoric acid (HF) were 111 kt (122,000 st) , down some 15 kt(16,500 st) from the levels of 2011 and 2012. Net imports of aluminum fluoride (A1F,) were 41 kt (45,000 st), similar to 2011 but down 14 percent compared with 2012.
Apparent United States consumption of fluorspar in 2013 was estimated at 536 kt (590,000 st), which was similar to the 2012 figure of 534 kt (588,000 st). Despite the higher import volume consumer stocks appear to have increased by a further 80 kt (88.000 st) to 313 kt (345,000 st) at year end.
Worldwide, the largest traditional markets for fluorspar are for the production of HF, A1F, and synthetic cryolite (both used in aluminum smelting) and in metallurgical applications (mainly steelmaking).
U.S. consumption of acidspar for production of HF (there is no U.S. production of A1F3) and nonmetallurgical uses (arc welding electrodes, enamels, fiberglass insulation, glass and portland cement) accounted for more than 90 percent of the total. The remainder was acidspar and metspar consumed in steelmaking and other metallurgical uses. The major end use for HF is in the manufacture of fluorocarbons used predominantly as refrigerants and as foamblowing agents. HF is also used in the production of fluoropolymers and fluoroelastomers, chemical derivatives, and for petroleum alkylation, uranium processing, stainless steel pickling and other diverse uses. In the electrolytic reduction and refining of aluminum, A IF, is used as a flux to improve efficiencies by lowering the melting point of the electrolyte mix and by suppressing sodium ions.
There has been a reduction in requirement for HF and some cutbacks in China, Germany and Japan during the year. While overall North America consumption was up in 2013, Honeywell announced end-October that it was closing its 50 kt/a (55,000 stpy) capacity Amherstburg, Canada for at least two years once feedstock had been used.
World aluminum output increased despite closures in high energy cost countries like Europe. A1F, consumption increased in China, the Middle East and Africa, was flat in North America and down elsewhere. Commissioning of Gulf Fluor's 60-kt/a (66,000-stpy) A1F3 and 10-kt/a ( 11,000-stpy) HF facility in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) started in quarter four.
World fluorspar demand overall remained unchanged in 2013 as a result of the continuing recession in much of Europe and the slowdown in the growth of the Chinese economy. Consumption was up in China and North America but down elsewhere particularly in Europe, Russia, India and Africa. Future fluorspar demand is closely linked to the health of international economies, although the fluorocarbon market may be a bit more problematic owing to continued opposition in Germany to the introduction and use of the new hydrofluoroolefin refrigerant HFO-1234yf in new model cars, although this is the preferred replacement for HFC-134a by both the U.S. Environmental protection Agency (EPA) and the EU. World fluorspar markets have been on a roller coaster in recent years - strong demand and high prices leading up to the 20082009 recession, a major slump during the recession, a strong rebound in 2011 and for much of 2012, but then a further fallback that continued into 2013 and early 2014.
Overall worldwide acidspar prices weakened sharply while metspar prices held steady. According to Industrial Minerals magazine, 2013 yearend prices for acidspar were - China, dry basis, cost, insurance and freight U.S. Gulf of Mexico port, $480 to $530/t ($435 to $480/st); China, wet filtercake, free-on-board (f.o.b.) China port, $290 to $320 ($263 to $290/st); Mexico, f.o.b. Tampico, $350/t ($317/st) for high-arsenic acidspar; and South Africa, dry basis, f.o.b. Durban, $380 to $450/t ($344 to $408/st). The published yearend price for Mexican metspar was unchanged at $230 to $270/t ($208 to $245/st) f.o.b. Tampico.
China export data showed f.o.b. acidspar price averaged $325/t ($294/st) in 2013 compared to $439/t ($398/st) in 2011 and $431/t ($391/st) in 2012.
Hastie Mining and Trucking Co. started limited production from its Klondike II fluorspar mine in Livingston County, KY. Ore was being stockpiled in the second half of 2013 until regular feedstock was available for the heavy-media plant. The company intends to produce acidspar and metspar grades and is considering the production of fluorspar briquettes.
In Vietnam, Masan Resources' Nui Phao tungsten and polymetallic mining project, 80 km (50 miles) from Hanoi, commenced in April, and commissioning of the acidspar circuit started late in the fourth quarter. Design annual acidspar output, when fully operational, is more than 200 kt/a (220,000 stpy).
In the United Kingdom, British Fluorspar Ltd, a fully owned subsidiary of Italy'sFluorsid S.p.A., continued to build a working ore stockpile from its underground Milldam Mine, which restarted operations in late 2012 and from surface ore. The refurbished Cavendish processing plant resumed operations in May. The company plans to produce 65 kt/a (71.600 stpy) acidspar.
Elsewhere in Europe output continued from Solvay's 50 kt/a (55,000 stpy) capacity acidspar operation in Bulgaria. Another HF producer, Fluorchemie, continued to develop their Phönix Flue & Schwersapat Bergwerk GmBH underground mine in Schobsetal and its on-site Mitteldeutschen Fluorit processing plant. A further development in Germany is Erzgebirgische Fluss-und Schwerspatwerke GmbH, is processing local fluorspar ores at its plant in Aue and plans to be in production in 2014.
Canada Fluorspar announced the results of the preliminary feasibility study at its St Lawrence 5050 joint venture fluorspar project with Arkema in Newfoundland, Canada based on updated capital and operating costs. An additional review is still underway and despite the announcement of additional mineral resources at its Director and AGS vein deposits, no decision has yet been made on whether the project will proceed.
UC Rusal, the world's leading producer of aluminum, announced in September that due to low grade ores it was mothballing its 120 kt/a (132.000 stpy) Yaroslavsk Mining Co. fluorspar operation in Russia's far-eastern Primorye region until May 2016. During this period it would modernize the facility. The operation was the only fluorspar producer in Russia which will now rely solely on imports, predominantly from Mongolia.
Mongolia continued to be a major producer, with an output of some 430 kt (473.000 st) in 2013 of which 30 percent is supplied by the joint RussianMongolian venture Mongolrostsvetmet LLC. Among several junior mining companies looking at potential development projects in the country. ARViN Monspar, with reportedly a 25- to 30-Mt (30 million to 35 million st) of 23 percent CaF, resource plans to install heavymedia upgrading units which will feed a central flotation plant at Choir, located close to existing rail, power and water infrastructure. Construction is planned for the second-half of 2014.
In South Africa. Minersa of Spain's Vergenoeg operation remained the only producer following the shutdown of Vanoil Energy Ltd'sCanada, (formerly Fluormin) Witkop operation in October 2012. McNally Bharat Engineering (SA) Proprietary Ltd announced in October it was to set up a fluorspar beneficiation and flotation plant for Sephaku Fluoride's 185 kt/a (204,000 stpy) acidspar Nokeng Mine project in Gauteng province by end 2015.
The outlook for steel and aluminum remains strong but, for the chemical industry there remain some environmental concerns for the use of fluorine products most particularly in Europe through the F-Gas Regulation Review which will come into force in January 2015 aimed at reducing F-gas emissions (from high global warming potential (GWP) HFCs, perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)) by two-thirds of current levels by 2030 will inevitably lead to some not-in-kind replacements. However, the acceptance in the EU and US and by the International Panel on Climate Change (1PPC) of refrigerant gas HFO-1234yf, with a GWP lower than CO, as the preferred car air-conditioning replacement for HFC-134a has been a welcome boost, along with a further $300 million investment by Honeywell into additional production at their Geismar, LA plant. Also, the growth of fluoropolymers, which have captured fluorine in their products, is strong and into fast-growing sectors which include Li-ion batteries, electronics and solar panels.
With the continued sluggish overall world growth, demand is likely to continue to be met by current suppliers, acidspar prices are expected to remain flat, and there is little incentive for some of the potential new producers to swing into operation. *
Fuller's earth is a widely used commercial term referring to industrially versatile clay materials including palygorskite (attapulgite), sepiolite and Caand Mg-smectites. Most commercially exploitable deposits are formed in low-energy, marginal-marine environments or in brackish lakes. Although diverse in mineralogy and varied in depositional environments, all fuller's earth share certain physical and chemical characteristics, which endow them with exceptional absorption, adsorption, filtering, and/or decolorizing, or thixotropic properties. These versatile clays are, thus, ranked among the leading mineral commodities in total value for consumer and producer.
Fuller's earth is usually categorized as either gellant-grade (e.g., fillers, binders and thickeners) or absorbent-grade (e.g., pet waste and oil absorbents, fertilizer and pesticide carriers, and edible oils and grease filtration and processing).
Twelve companies in 11 states produced sorbent fuller's earth for the United States domestic market at the start of 2013. Only 11 companies in 11 states completed the production year following the bankruptcy of Mid-Florida Mining. These states, in decreasing order by tonnage, are Georgia. Missouri, Virginia, Mississippi, California, Tennessee, Florida, Illinois, Nevada. Kansas and Texas. Gellant-grade fuller's earth was produced by two companies in 2013 and remains confined to southwestern Georgia and the eastern Florida Panhandle.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates 2013 domestic sorbent fuller's earth production at 2.04 Mt (2.25 million st), with an average value of $92/t ($83.46/ st), or U.S. $188 million. This was a slight increase from final domestic 2012 production of 1.98 Mt (2.18 million st), but still well below the 3.3 Mt (3.6 million st) 2003 production peak. Gellant-grade attapulgite production is not reported so it is not included in estimates given here.
The demand for gellant-grade fuller's earth is linked to the fillers and binders supplied to the housing and drilling industries. Therefore, as the housing market recovers and the new U.S. oil boom continues, expect higher demand for gellant-grade fuller's earth. Despite the changing nature of the demands for sorbent-grade materials, the authors anticipate continued slow but steady growth in sorbent-grade uses as long as the U.S. manufacturing sector continues to strengthen and demand continues to increase in developing economies.
Although not precisely quantified, due to intermixing of palygorskite and sepiolite with Caand Mg-smectites sold as sorbent products, global fuller's earth production and consumption slightly increased to 3 Mt (3.3 million st) in 2013 from the final 2012 global estimate of 2.98 Mt (3.2 million st). Certain important producers do not report commodity information, which adds to the challenge in quantifying global production. Nonetheless, the total global market remains at about U.S. $2 billion.
U.S. production in 2013 rose to account for about 68 percent, Spain's production decreased slightly to about 20 percent, while Mexico continued to account for about 3 percent of the global market (Fig. l).The remaining 9 percent of reported production was divided between a number of smaller producers including Italy, Morocco. Senegal and South Africa. Unreported 2013 fuller's earth production from the Ukraine. China, India and Iran was likely similar to 2012 production.
While the majority of global extraction is driven by the consumer market, the industrial, environmental and niche applications continue to gain market shares both in number and importance. As expected, markets in the developing world are demanding larger supplies of fuller's earth for use as agricultural carriers and fluid purification products.
Fuller's earth consumption in the United States remains driven by absorbent uses, with nearly 67 percent of the absorbent-grade product used in pet waste applications. The next leading market is oil and grease absorbents at nearly 7.5 percent of the domestic market. Other uses now comprise almost 25 percent of domestic production, with about 5 percent used in fillers, extenders and binders. 4.5 percent used in oil and grease processing, 2.6 percent used in animal feed products and about 11 percent of domestic production used in miscellaneous products.The number and variety of uses for fuller's earth products have increased. Many of these uses do not fit conveniently into the simple categories traditionally used in commodity reporting and, thus, may not be captured in published reports. As more specialty uses and products are developed, we can expect this market segment to continue to grow. Important U.S. producers of fuller's earths include Active Minerals, BASF, General Chemical Industrial Products, Oil-Dri Corporation of America and Ralston Purina Co.
There have been slow increases in U.S. fuller's earth production in the beginning of this decade due to two factors. The first is the slow but seemingly steady increase in manufacturing demands for sorbent products. The second is continued research leading to the development of new and specialized uses. In 2013, there were slight gains in U.S. production (Fig. 2), and these are expected to continue as the U.S. and global economies slowly strengthen. *
The estimated value of natural gemstones produced from U.S. deposits during 2013 was $11 million, a slight decrease from 2012. U.S. gemstone production included agate, amber, beryl, coral, garnet, jade, jasper, opal, pearl, quartz, sapphire, shell, topaz, tourmaline, turquoise and many other gem materials.
More than 60 varieties of gemstones have been produced from U.S. mines, but commercial mining of gemstones has never been extensively undertaken in the United States. Most U.S. gemstone production has been from relatively small mining operations, or production has been as a byproduct of the mining of other mineral commodities. In the United States, much of the current gemstone mining is conducted by collectors, gem clubs and hobbyists, rather than commercial organizations.
The commercial gemstone industry in the United States consists of individuals and companies that mine gemstones or harvest shell and pearl, firms that manufacture laboratory-created or synthetic gemstones, and individuals and companies that cut natural and laboratory-created gemstones. The U.S. gemstone industry is focused on the production of colored gemstones and on the cutting of large diamonds.
During 2013, each of the 50 states produced at least $1,440 worth of gem materials. Eleven states accounted for 90 percent of the total value, as voluntarily reported to the U.S. Geological Survey by survey respondents. These states were, in order of descending value of production, Arizona, North Carolina, Oregon, California, Utah, Tennessee, Montana, Colorado, Arkansas, Idaho and Maine.
Some states are known for the production of a single gem material, such as Tennessee for freshwater pearls. Other states, including Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and North Carolina, are known for producing a variety of gemstones. North Carolina is the only state with identified deposits of all four of the most popular precious gemstones: diamond, emerald, ruby and sapphire.
The estimated value of U.S. laboratory-created gemstone production was $31 million in 2013. Production value decreased slightly from 2012. Reported output of laboratory-created gemstones was, in order of decreasing production value, from five firms in Florida, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Arizona. Production included the manufacture of cubic zirconia, diamond, moissanite and turquoise.
Although the United States accounts for only a small portion of the total global gemstone production, it is the world's leading gemstone market. U.S. gemstone markets accounted for more than an estimated 35 percent of world gemstone consumption in 2013.
The U.S. market for unset gem-quality diamond during 2013 was estimated to be about $23.25 billion. This was a 15-percent increase, compared with 2012. U.S. markets for natural, unset nondiamond gemstones totaled about $1.51 billion, a 13-percent increase from 2012. The major uses for gemstones in the United States were in jewelry, for carvings, and in gem and mineral collections.
Gemstone prices are governed by many factors and qualitative characteristics, including beauty, clarity, demand, durability, freedom from defects, perfection of cutting and rarity. Colored gemstone prices are generally influenced by market supplyand-demand considerations, and diamond prices are supported by producer controls on the quantity and quality of supply. Diamond pricing, in particular, is complex; values can vary significantly depending on time, place, and the subjective evaluations of buyers and sellers.
During 2013, total U.S. gemstone trade (imports plus exports) with all countries and territories was about $44.5 billion. In 2013, U.S. exports and reexports of diamonds were valued at $18.4 billion, and U.S. exports of gemstones other than diamond were valued at $1.36 billion. U.S. imports of diamonds were valued at $23.2 billion, and U.S. imports of gemstones other than diamonds were valued at $1.51 billion.
The United States is a significant international diamond transit center as well as the world's leading gem diamond market. The large volume of reexports shipped to other centers is one measure of the significance that the United States has in the worldwide diamond supply network.
Overall demand for gem diamonds is expected to rise along with demand for other precious gems as the economy continues to recover from the recession and luxury purchases increase. Precious colored gemstone demand should increase as the popularity and acceptance of colored gemstones grow. The United States is expected to continue dominating world gemstone consumption.
Independent diamond producers will continue to bring a greater measure of competition to global markets. Increased production and lower prices are expected to create greater competition.
More laboratory-created gemstones, simulants and treated gemstones continue to enter the marketplace. This will necessitate more transparent industry standards to maintain customer confidence.
Internet sales of diamonds, gemstones and jewelry increased during 2013, and they are expected to continue increasing in popularity, along with other forms of e-commerce that emerge to serve the diamond and gemstone industries. This use of e-commerce is expected to increase as the gemstone industry and its customers become more comfortable with and learn more about new e-commerce tools. *
Overall demand for gem diamonds is expected to rise along with demand for other precious gems as the economy continues to recover from the recession and luxury purchases increase. Precious colored gemstone demand should increase as the popularity and acceptance of colored gemstones grow.
Graphite is elemental carbon that crystallizes in the hexagonal system as six-sided platelets. It occurs naturally. It is mined but can be made artificially from petroleum coke in the form of shapes (electrodes) and powders.
The major graphite prices, as given in Industrial Minerals, dropped substantially since September 2011. For example, medium crystalline flake (94 percent-97 percent C, +100-80 mesh) was $2,200-$2,500/t ($1,995$2,268/st) in September 2011, where it stayed through February 2012. By October 2012, it was down to $1,100$1,700/t ($998-$1542/st). In March 2013, the price stabilized at $l,050-$l,400/t ($952-$1.270/st). In January 2014, it was $l,050-$l,150/t ($952-$1043/st). This reflects a significant drop in worldwide graphite demand.
Total U.S. natural graphite imports for three Harmonized Tariff Schedules categories combined, were 61.3 kt (67,570 st) in 2013, compared with 56.7 kt (62,500 st) in 2012.
There are no currently existing graphite mines or beneficiation plants in the United States, so no regulatory or reclamation issues have arisen.
However, Graphite One Resources Inc. (Canadian headquarters) has a crystalline flake deposit on Graphite Creek on the Seward Peninsula in Alaska that might have some minable resources. Now in the exploration stage, the company recently began investigating beneficiation by lab-testing a few samples using a leaching process. To come into production would cost millions of dollars and take three to four years.
There are other such graphite deposits in Alabama, in the early stages of exploration by airborne geophysics and a bit of drilling, and in Nevada, where owners have switched their efforts to silver. The fate of these deposits and other junior-miner deposits is dependent on Tesla Motors proposed "gigafactories."
Tesla Motors Inc., a U.S. electric car manufacturer, stated that it was considering building what could be the largest graphite-using Li-ion battery factories in the world. Such gigafactories would cost $5 billion each and produce 500,000 Li-ion batteries per year by 2020. This is more than the number of Li-ion batteries produced by automotive suppliers worldwide in 2013. The most likely sites are in the southwestern United States. And more than one gigafactory may be built. Panasonic is to be supplier for the plant(s).
Even though crystalline flake prices have dropped precipitously from their September 2011 high, there are significant new mining developments elsewhere. While Stratmin Global Resources Pic (London U.K. headquarters) closed its Canadian mine because of low ore grade, it still has the Graphmada Equity Pty. Ltd. mines at Loharano and Antsirabe and an associated 12kt/a (13,200-stpy) capacity plant in Madagascar that it bought about a year ago. So the company continues to be a graphite producer.
There are possible graphite operations elsewhere in the world, including some in Canada and the Uley Mine in South Australia now owned by Valence Industries.
Overall, 2014 natural graphite sales look likely to be up 5 percent from 2013, after 2013 sales had been down 10 percent from 2012.
Natural graphite (mostly flake) is used in aluminagraphite shapes, carbon-magnesite brick, plus some in crucibles, monolithics (i.e. gunning and ramming mixes) and other refractories. U.S. graphite demand in 2014 for use in the refractories end-use is likely to be on the same level as 2013. Graphite demand (sales) in 2013 was down 10 percent to 15 percent from 2012.
Natural graphite is used in graphite foil, expanded graphite and related items. U.S. graphite demand in 2014 for graphite foil and related items could be up 5 percent from 2013; 2013 demand was level with 2012.
Smaller end-uses of graphite include natural graphite used in brake linings, powdered metals, in foundry facings and steelmaking, plastics and rubber, and in lubricants. U.S. graphite demand in 2014 in these end uses could be up by 5 percent from 2013; 2013 demand was level to down 5 percent from 2012.
High-growth, large-volume end-uses include two prospects in the next five to 10 years for radically increased graphite usage: Li-ion batteries, which continues to look excellent but with caution needed, and the graphene (pure carbon in the form of a very thin, nearly transparent sheet) prospect, which is still difficult to evaluate. Considering known technology, any graphene will be made synthetically and not from natural (flake) graphite. Technical limitations and lack of feasibility are preventing any mass market usage in products.
High-growth, targe-volume end-uses include two prospects in the next five to 10 years for radically increased graphite usage: Li-ion batteries, which continues to look excellent but with caution needed, and the graphene (pure carbon in the form of a very thin, nearly transparent sheet) prospect, which is still difficult to evaluate. Considering known technology, any graphene will be made synthetically and not from natural (flake) graphite.
The United States is the world's second ranked producer and consumer of gypsum. Production of crude gypsum in the United States during 2013 was estimated to be 16.3 Mt (18 million st), an increase of 3 percent, compared with 2012 production. The average price of mined crude gypsum was $8/t ($7.26/st). Synthetic gypsum production in 2013, most of which was generated as a flue gas desulfurization product from coal-fired electric power plants, was estimated to be 12.3 Mt (13.5 million st) and priced at approximately $1.50/t ($1.36/ st). Forty-seven companies produced natural gypsum in the United States at 53 mines and plants in 34 states. U.S. gypsum exports totaled 290 kt (320,000 st). Imports were much higher at 3.2 Mt (3.5 million st).
As a low-value, high-bulk commodity, normally mined in openpit operations from deposits widely distributed throughout the world, gypsum tended to be consumed within the many countries where it was produced. Less than 20 percent of the world's crude gypsum production was estimated to enter international trade. Only a few countries, such as Canada, Mexico. Spain and Thailand were major crude gypsum exporters. Of these. Canada and Mexico were significant exporters because of their large deposits in proximity to wallboard markets in the United States.
Approximately 27 Mt (29.8 million st) of gypsum was consumed in the manufacture of wallboard and plaster products, and 1.6 Mt (1.8 million st) for cement production and agricultural applications. Small amounts of high-purity gypsum were used for a range of industrial processes.
Demand for gypsum depends principally on the strength of the construction industry, particularly in the United States, where about 95 percent of consumed gypsum is used for building plasters, the manufacture of portland cement and wallboard products. Gypsum has no practical substitute in manufacturing portland cement.
World gypsum reserves are large in major producing countries, but data for most are not available. Domestic gypsum resources are adequate but unevenly distributed. Synthetic gypsum, most of which is byproduct from coal-fired power plants, coupled with substantial imports from Canada, augment domestic crude gypsum supplies for wallboard manufacturing in the United States, particularly in the eastern and southern coastal regions. Imports from Mexico supplement domestic supplies for wallboard manufacturing along portions of the U.S. western seaboard. Large gypsum deposits occur in the Great Lakes region, the midcontinent region and several western states. Foreign resources are large and widely distributed: 83 countries produce gypsum.
Synthetic gypsum is important as a substitute for mined gypsum in wallboard manufacturing, cement production and agricultural applications (in descending order of tonnage). In 2013, synthetic gypsum accounted for about 43 percent of the total domestic gypsum supply.
Some of the more than 4 Mt (4.4 million st) of gypsum scrap that was generated by wallboard manufacturing, wallboard installation and building demolition was recycled. Recycled gypsum was used primarily for agricultural purposes and feedstock for the manufacture of new wallboard. Other markets for recycled gypsum include athletic field marking, cement production as a stucco additive, grease absorption, sludge drying and water treatment. *
In last year's article review, it was noted that hydraulic fracturing sand (frac sand) enjoyed record growth as opposed to all other industrial sand in the United States. This was still the case in 2013. Of course, there were some small market downturns but none lasted for an extended time. Much of the downturns were in specific products, as the completion engineers on the well site experimented using different grades of frac sand to achieve the results needed. Frac sand is used to prop open the fractures in rock reservoirs to allow oil and gas to flow more freely to the wellhead. The completion engineers are always looking for the most production for the least cost from their oil and gas wells. Proppant selection is always an area where price and personal preference dominate.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the estimated production of frac sand in 2013 was 62 percent of the total production of industrial silica sand or 32.55 Mt (35.88 million st). This was an increase of about 15 percent from 2012. Frac sand producers and other frac sand officials estimate that 36 Mt (39.7 million st) were produced and sold in 2013. The USGS and industry figures are closer now than they have ever been. The USGS also reported that Wisconsin, Illinois, Texas. Minnesota and Oklahoma are the top five industrial sand producing states. This is directly related to frac sand production in these states.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) and the International Standards Organization (ISO) set forth the recommended specifications for frac sand. First and foremost, the sand should contain upward of 99 percent silica or quartz grains similar to all industrial sands. The sand should be a mixture of round or nearly rounded sand grains and the grains should be spherical or nearly spherical. Roundness and sphericity are based on the Krumbein-Sloss Chart for Visual Estimation of Sphericity and Roundness from Stratigraphy and Sedimentation, second edition, 1951 by W. H. Freeman and Co., New York, NY. Grain shapes above 0.6 roundness and 0.6 sphericity are recommended. The more rounded the grain, the more porosity the sand will have that is left in the fractures, thus allowing the gas or oil to flow freely to the wellhead.
Grain size is another important recommended specification. Generally speaking, there are some sizes more popular than others. The standard sieve designation #20-#40 is a popular size for the oil fracking. It is recommended, that 90 percent of the quartz sand grains fall between the #20 (0.84 mm) and the #40 (0.42 mm). Another popular size for oil fracking is the #30 (0.58 mm) - #50 (0.29 mm). For fracking gas, the #40 (0.42 mm) - #70 (0.21 mm) and the #70 (0.21 mm) - #140 (0.10 mm) are all sizes commonly used in the well stimulation industry. Other frac sand sizes are: #6 (3.36 mm) - #12 (1.68 mm), #8 (2.38 mm) - #16 (1.19 mm). #12 (1.68 mm) - #20 (0.84 mm), and #16 (1.19 mm) - #30 (0.59 mm).
Crush resistance is also very important. As the sand is "pumped down" the well, it is subjected to pressures of 4,000 psi or greater. The quartz grains must withstand breaking down and producing fines. Fines will fill in the opening between the individual grains of sand, causing less porosity, therefore flow.
Angular to subangular grain shapes will pack together and impurities such as feldspar, garnets, amphiboles and other minerals need to be limited because they break down under these pressures as well. Insipient fractures in the individual grain can cause weak grains, therefore, breaking down to fines. These impurities and grain shape characteristics may produce enough fines under pressure to not meet specifications. In many of the Cambrian sandstones, the amount of feldspars can cause low crush resistance. This mineral tends to break along cleavage lines and produce fines.
Other specifications such as acid solubility and turbidity are somewhat less important. Turbidity can be resolved at the processing plant during washing, and most fracking operations are done with minor amounts of acid base chemicals. Therefore, carbonates in the sand have little effect on the process. Years ago there were more acid base chemicals and carbonate content in the sand which diluted their performance. However, the API specifications for acid solubility still exist. If the sand is slightly above the specification, it still may be used.
The geology of deposits has much to do where frac sand is found and mined. As previously mentioned, the sand or sandstone must be almost entirely made of quartz. This eliminates most glacial and river deposits, as they contain other minerals that cannot be removed during processing. Greywacke and arkose sandstones cannot be used because of their mineral impurities and grain shape. As most specifications, whether construction aggregates or other industrial minerals, specifications are based on the material being used in a region or that particular industry. In this case, frac sand specifications were written based on two of the sandstones (sands) supplied to the well fracking industry. They were: Ottawa or Northern White and Brady Brown sand (sandstones). These CambrianOrdovician sandstones include the Hickory Sandstone, St. Peter, Jordan and most recently Wonewoc and Mount Simon. Ottawa sand (St. Peter Sandstone) is used as a standard by American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) as well. These generally friable (loosely cemented) sandstones have gone through many cyclical geologic events during deposition and the quartz grains are well rounded, have excellent sphericity, free of impurities, have high crush strengths and generally low in carbonate and feldspar content.
Other unconsolidated sand and sandstones are also mined for frac sand. Some of these deposits meet specifications while others have marginal qualities. They are Oil Creek and Mclish sandstone in Oklahoma, the Paluxy and the Trinity Sand in Texas, the Red River sand in Arkansas and the St. Peter in Arkansas, Missouri and Iowa. In 2013, exploration activities continued in Texas, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin and a few other states. Exploration is being done by well-established frac sand mining companies in search of coarser material or increasing reserves as well as new entries to the market. Cambrian-Ordovician sandstones that have never been exploited for industrial silica sand or have been exploited on a limited basis are being evaluated. States such as Michigan have seen several of the larger industrial sand mining companies exploring its Cambrian sandstones for a potential source of frac sand. North and South Dakota have been explored for potential frac sand sources. It has been reported that a company has established a site in South Dakota. The western states have been explored as well. Sites in Utah, Montana and New Mexico have been evaluated.
While exploration for new deposits continues, a few frac sand operations have been reported for sale. Preferred Sand, with operations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska and Arizona and Cadre Proppants near Brady, TX, have been looked at as potential acquisitions by some. Other greenfield sites are being peddled by individual landowners or middle men. The eastern and gulf coastal plain deposits are still being evaluated, even when it has been proven that these geologic young deposits generally do not meet API specifications. In some cases, these sands can be used to frac some shallow wells. Some of the well service companies will pump a poor quality sand at a customer request usually to save money on the total fracking job.
Prices for frac sand products depend on product sizes, availability, quality, region and contracts. During 2013, prices were lower for most sizes and most were take-and-pay orders, without contracts. The latter half of 2013, fine sand, especially 100 mesh (70-140 mesh) was in demand to a point where there were reported shortages. This is completely different than years previous when producers could not give away 100-mesh product.
The 100-mesh sand is a poor proppant in laboratory tests. It is a better bridging agent and its performance in gas shale fracturing is undeniable. Its primary functions include blocking downward growth of fractures and wedging open natural fractures. Therefore, the 100mesh has been in great demand, so prices have increased in that size category. In 2013, the approximate free-onboard (f.o.b.) plant prices were 20/40 - $65,30/50 - $60, 40/70- $50 and 100 mesh $50.
Generally, prices are negotiated by the supplier and consumer and kept in confidence. The total delivered price is not the fob price. In some cases, frac sand has become a value-added product. Some of the private transloading facilities are buying and storing sand, then reselling it to customers after increasing the price. In 2013, many more transloading facilities have come online from the major producers to private trucking firms to others.
Issues facing the industry are those similar to all surface and subsurface mines throughout the country. Air emissions of particulate matter are a substantial part of the permit process for the dry processing plant, and there may be wetland, ground water, endangered species as well as other environmental issues. Truck traffic is the major transportation mode and a major issue of this industry. Trucks are used to transport raw material to the plant, rail facilities and to the customer. Truck traffic is difficult to mitigate and generates many of the complaints for the producer. Most other environmental issues are mitigated to the satisfaction of the state, federal or local requirements. However, local opposition can cause significant delays in opening a new mine. This is still the case in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Health and safety is also an issue. One particular health issue that has dominated the industrial sand industry for decades is airborne silica. During the entire mining and processing steps, silica dust is emitted. Breathing silica particles has long been known to cause silicosis. As long as the problem existed, the industry has been proactive in mitigating this issue. Employees are required to wear protective clothes and are checked on a frequent basis for any health issues.
The future outlook is bright for frac sand. The well fracking industry keeps growing as well as the mine sites. According to industry personnel and independent reports, the need for frac sand will continue to increase in the United States and a much larger increase in Canada through 2016.
The Permian Basin is taking all the frac sand produced by suppliers in Texas. It has been reported that Premier Sand near Brady, TX is buying sand to keep up with the demand. Premier Sand is the name that Pioneer Resources used after it acquired Carmeuse Silica Sand in Brady.
The Bakken Basin remains active and the Marcellus in Pennsylvania has increased activity, even when the gas prices are still lower than expected. The report for New York is not as bright. There will be no decision made on new fracking in the state until 2015.
Ceramic proppants and resin coated sand will most likely remain a small percentage of the frac sand market as long as natural sand can be used at low cost. These proppants are, for the most part, used in the fracking of deep wells for their strength under extreme pressures.
Significant new operations on line in 2013 were U.S. Silica at Sparta. WI, and Unimin Corp. at Tunnel City, WI. Other smaller operations in Wisconsin have also come online such as Taylor Frac in Taylor, WI and a few others in Texas. In 2013, Fairmount Minerals LTD acquired Frac Tec (proppant specialists) with operations near Brady. TX.Oakdale, WI and Missouri. *
Estimated 2013 world production of natural and synthetic industrial diamond was about 4.45 billion carats. During 2013, natural industrial diamonds were produced in at least 12 countries, and synthetic industrial diamond was produced in at least 12 countries. About 97 percent of the combined natural and synthetic global output was produced in China, Ireland, Russia, South Africa and the United States.
During 2013, China was the world's leading producer of synthetic industrial diamond, followed by the United States and Russia. In 2013, the two U.S. synthetic producers, one in Pennsylvania and the other in Ohio, had an estimated output of 103 million carats, valued at about $70.6 million. This was an estimated 43.7 million carats of synthetic diamond bort, grit, and dust and powder, with a value of $14.5 million combined with an estimated 59.7 million carats of synthetic diamond stone, with a value of $56.1 million.
Also in 2013, nine U.S. firms manufactured polycrystalline diamond (PCD) from synthetic diamond grit and powder. The U.S. government does not collect or maintain data for either domestic PCD producers or domestic chemical vapor deposition (CVD) diamond producers for quantity or value of annual production. Current trade and consumption quantity data are not available for PCD or for CVD diamond. For these reasons, PCD and CVD diamond are not included in the industrial diamond quantitative data reported here.
An estimated 36.8 million carats of used industrial diamond, valued at $18.7 million, was recycled in the United States during 2013. This was an estimated 36.5 million carats of recycled diamond bort, grit, and dust and powder, with a value of $17.8 million, combined with an estimated 326,000 carats of recycled diamond stone, with a value of $830,000. Lower prices of newly produced industrial diamond appear to be reducing the number and scale of diamond stone recycling operations. Most of this material was recovered from used drill bits, diamond tools and other diamondcontaining wastes. Some diamond also was recovered from residues generated in the manufacture of PCD.
Since its introduction in the mid-1980s, CVD diamond has seen strong growth. The global market value of industrial diamond and diamond-like films and coatings was estimated to have been $905 million in 2010, and is expected to increase to more than $1.7 billion in 2015.
Early applications for CVD diamond focused largely around thinand thick-film PCD for cutting tools and dressing applications due to the mechanical properties of diamond. Newer applications that use CVD diamond's mechanical properties include wear parts, such as watch gears and chemical mechanical polishing pad conditioners. CVD diamond is being used in microelectronic components, such as highspeed processors, medical devices, wide bandgap radio frequency (RF) and power conversion devices, and opto-electronic devices (LEDs, laser diodes) that generate exceptionally high heat densities that require innovative approaches to thermal management.
Boron-doped diamond (BDD) electrodes for water treatment are attracting significant interest due to diamond's potential as an environmentally friendly, high-performance electrode material. BDD electrodes have many characteristics that make them ideal for eliminating organics from water, including a large potential window, lower absorption, corrosion stability in very aggressive media, high efficiency in oxidation processes, very low double-layer capacitance and background current.
Historically, diamond has been perceived as an expensive material. Advances in CVD diamond manufacturing, like the development of microwave carbon plasma technology and the development of higher-throughput hot filament (HF) CVD diamond reactors, have significantly reduced diamond costs. This has led many industries to revisit development activities and pursue the use of CVD diamond for a growing number of applications.
During 2013, one U.S. company was developing projects using single-crystal CVD diamond materials in high-voltage power switches, lasers, quantum communications and computing, and water treatment and purification. These projects could translate into $1 billion-plus market opportunities and high volume technology applications in the next two to five years.
The United States remained one of the world's leading consumers of industrial diamond. Estimated U.S. apparent consumption of natural and synthetic industrial diamond stones, bort, grit, and dust and powder was 721 million carats, valued at $161 million. Industrial diamond is used for applications such as truing and dressing grinding wheels, production of fine wire, waterjet nozzles for material cutting, direct precision cutting and material processing, material testing, drilling, grinding, polishing, and finishing materials.
The major domestic industries that consume industrial diamond are construction, machinery manufacturing, mining services (drilling), oil and gas exploration (drilling), stone cutting and polishing, and transportation systems (infrastructure and vehicles). Stone cutting and highway building and repair together made up the largest demand for industrial diamond. During 2013, about 97 percent of the industrial diamond market used synthetic industrial diamonds because the diamond quality can be controlled and properties can be customized to fit specific requirements.
Pricing of natural diamond was driven up by strong demand at auctions held in all of the global diamond centers. This has affected prices of industrial diamond as well as gemstone diamond. These price increases were a reflection of strong demand for the whole range of rough diamonds for industrial markets.
Natural and synthetic industrial diamonds differ significantly in price. Natural industrial diamond normally has a more limited range of values, from about 49 cents/carat for bort size material to about $2.50 to $10/carat for most stones, with some larger stones selling for $200/carat or more.
Prices of synthetic diamond vary according to size, shape, crystallinity and the absence or presence of metal coatings. In general, prices for synthetic diamond for grinding and polishing range from as low as 26 cents/carat to $2.50/carat. Strong and blocky material for sawing and drilling sells for $2.50 to $4/ carat. Large, synthetic crystals with excellent structure for specific applications sell for several hundred dollars per carat.
During 2013, U.S. imports of all types of industrial diamond had an average value of 16 cents/carat. These imports were a combination of imports of diamond bort.grit, and dust and powder (natural and synthetic) that had an average value of 13 cents/carat and imports of diamond stone (natural and synthetic) that had an average value of $15.30/carat.
During 2013, the United States led the world in the industrial diamond trade. Imports were received from 30 countries and exports and re-exports were sent to 31 countries.
U.S. imports of industrial-quality diamond stones (natural and synthetic) were about 2.33 million carats, valued at about $35.7 million. The average value of these industrial-quality diamond stone imports was $15.30/ carat. Imports of diamond dust, grit and powder (natural and synthetic) was 1,180 million carats, valued at about $158 million. The average value of these industrial diamond dust, grit, and powder imports was 13 cents/carat. During 2013, the United States did not export industrial diamond stones. U.S. exports of industrial diamond dust, grit, and powder (natural and synthetic) were about 154 million carats, valued at $77.3 million and an average value of 50 cents/carat.
The United States is expected to continue to be one of the world's leading consumers of industrial diamond into the next decade, and likely will remain a significant producer and exporter of synthetic industrial diamond as well. The level of U.S. demand will increase as the economy continues to improve.
Demand for synthetic diamond grit and powder is expected to remain greater than that for natural diamond material. Constant-dollar prices of synthetic diamond products, including CVD diamond films, will probably continue to decline as production technology becomes more cost effective. The decline is even more likely if competition from low-cost producers in China and Russia continues to increase. *
Garnet has been used as a gemstone since the Bronze Age. However, garnet's angular fractures, relatively high hardness and specific gravity, chemical inertness and nontoxicity make it ideal for many industrial applications. It is also free of crystalline silica and can be recycled.
Garnet is the general name given to a group of complex silicate minerals, all with an isometric crystal structure and similar properties and chemical compositions. Higher quality industrial garnet is used as a loose grain abrasive because of its hardness. Lower quality industrial garnet is used as a filtration medium because it is relatively inert and resists chemical degradation. Garnet is also beginning to be used as an oil and gas reservoir fracturing proppant or mixed with other proppants when high temperature effects are encountered or in very deep formations.
In 2013, U.S. production of crude garnet concentrate for industrial use was estimated to be 47 kt (52,000 st), valued at about $8.6 million, a slight increase in quantity compared with 2012 production. Refined garnet material sold or used was estimated to be 26 kt (28,000 st) valued at $7.08 million.
Garnet for industrial use was mined in 2013 by four firms: one in Idaho, one in Montana and two in New York. The majority of industrial grade garnet mined in the United States is almandite (iron aluminum silicate). Some andradite (calcium iron silicate) also is mined domestically for industrial uses.
Total world industrial garnet production was estimated to be about 1.7 Mt (1.9 million st). Australia, Canada. China, India and the United States were the leading producers in 2012. The United States produced about 2.8 percent of the industrial garnet mined worldwide.
In 2013, the United States, with an estimated 186 kt (205,000 st) of apparent consumption, was one of world's leading consumers of industrial garnet, consuming 11 percent of global garnet production. U.S. garnet consumption decreased 6 percent, compared with 2012.
The major end uses for garnet in the United States and their estimated market shares are waterjet cutting: 35 percent; abrasive blasting media, 30 percent; water filtration, 20 percent; abrasive powders, 10 percent and other end uses, 5 percent. Domestically, the industrial sectors that consume garnet include aircraft and motor vehicle manufacturers, ceramics and glass producers, electronic component manufacturers, water filtration plants, the petroleum industry, shipbuilders and wood-furniture-finishing operations.
Estimated worldwide end-use market shares are abrasive blasting media, 50 percent; waterjet cutting, 30 percent; water filtration, 10 percent and other end uses, 10 percent.
Industrial garnet's price depends on application, quality, quantity purchased, source and type and, therefore, encompasses a range of prices. During 2013, domestic values for crude concentrates for different applications ranged from about $94 to $208/t ($85 to $188/st), with an average of $ 183/t ($166/st).
The domestic values for refined garnet for different applications sold during the year ranged from $215 to $331/t ($195 to $300/st), with an average for the year of $275/t (250/st). The average value of garnet imported to the United States during 2013 was $208/t ($188/at).
The garnet market is very competitive. Lower priced foreign imports slowly began displacing U.S. production in domestic markets during the 1990s. In 2013, the United States remained a net importer, relying on imports to provide about 76 percent of domestic consumption.
U.S. imports and exports in 2013 were estimated to be 155 kt (170,000 st) and 15.1 kt (166,000 st), respectively. The level of imports decreased by 7 percent from 2012, and exports increased by 4 percent, compared with 2012. Australia provided about 46 percent, India approximately 43 percent, China about 10 percent and other countries 1 percent of U.S. industrial garnet imports for consumption. Australia, Canada, China and India continued to gain importance as garnet sources for domestic imports. Most U.S. exports of garnet were shipped to Asian, Canadian, Caribbean and European markets.
In recent years,the garnet industry has encountered higher production costs and tighter profit margins, which resulted in the loss of noncompetitive producers. To increase profitability and remain competitive with foreign imported material, production may be restricted to only high-grade garnet ores or those deposits that contain other salable mineral products, such as kyanite, marble, mica minerals, sillimanite, staurolite, wollastoniteor metallic ores.
Worldwide industrial garnet demand is expected to continue to increase, with the highest growth in markets for waterjet cutting and blasting. *
In 1811, French chemist Bernard Courtois (17771838) liberated a violet vapor from seaweed ashes when he added sulfuric acid to them. Courtois was working with brown seaweed (Laminaria sp., and Fucus sp.) as a substitute for wood ash in saltpeter production for the making of gunpowder during the Napoleonic wars. Unable to continue his research on his discovery, he inspired chemist friends Charles Bernard Desormes and Nicolas Clément to continue to investigate the mysterious vapor. Clément presented their findings to the Imperial Institute of France on Nov. 29,1813.
Elemental iodine, a bluish-black, crystalline solid with submetallic luster, has a specific gravity of 4.93, and volatilizes (sublimates) at ordinary room temperatures into a blue-violet gas that has an irritating odor. Iodine is the least active of the halogens, all of which readily displace it. Only slightly soluble in water, iodine dissolves in alcohol, carbon disulfide, carbon tetrachloride and chloroform, giving a deep violet solution. The only stable isotope of iodine is 1127, although 37 isotopes are known to exist.
Two primary sources of iodine production are subsurface brines associated with petroleum and natural gas deposits, and as a byproduct from nitrate deposits in Chilean desert caliche. The largest source of iodine, however, is seawater, which contains 0.05 ppm, or about 31 Mt (34 million st). Seaweed of the family Laminaria can extract and accumulate up to 0.45 percent iodine on a dry basis. Seaweed was an important source of iodine prior to 1959. Seaweed remains a significant source of iodine in the diets of many populations throughout the world.
Chile has the largest iodine reserves, followed by Japan and the United States. They also are the largest producers of iodine, respectively. Chile produces iodine from iodate minerals as either coor byproducts of nitrate production. Most iodine plants are located adjacent to nitrate plants. However, some stand-alone installations are located where high concentrations of iodates occur in older nitrate tailings.
Japan and the United States produce iodine from sodium iodide solutions found in underground brines associated with petroleum and natural gas fields. Iodine also is produced from subterranean brines in Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Indonesia and Uzbekistan. China produces iodine as a coproduct in the extraction of sodium alginate from seaweed. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimated world production of iodine in 2013 at 28.5 kt (31,920 st), exclusive of U.S. production. The USGS last reported U.S. production at 1.57 kt (1,727 st) for 2005; U.S. producers have since withheld production information for proprietary reasons.
Chilean iodine production was estimated at 17 kt (19,040 st) for 2013; reporting Chilean iodine production at 18 kt (20,130 st) for 2012. Chile accounts for just about 63 percent of world production (excluding U.S. production). Japan is the second largest producer of iodine. The USGS estimated Japanese production at 9.4 kt (10,528 st) for 2013; reporting production at 9.3 kt (10,416 st) for 2012. Japan accounts for more than 33 percent of world production (excluding U.S. production). Companies in Chiba, Miyazaki and Niigata prefectures operated iodine production facilities. Chiba prefecture typically accounts for about 90 percent of Japanese production.
The remaining 6 percent of worldwide iodine production (exclusive of U.S. production), in descending order, comes from Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan. Production amounts for China were not available. Iran built an iodine production facility with a capacity of 65,000 kg/a (143,300 lbs/year) in Golestan province in 2008, but no production figures were ever released.
Tight supplies and increased demand - particularly due to panic purchasing of potassium iodide (KI) tablets as an anti-radiation measure after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the Fukushima nuclear disaster - led Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (SQM) to reopen two plants in the first quarter of 2012. Increased demand required SQM to increase production to take advantage of the increase in the price of iodine as a result of the Fukushima disaster and also due to increased demand for iodine in industrial applications.
In January 2012, after acquiring Sirocco Gold Inc., Atacama Minerals Corp. (AMC) subsequently became Sirocco Mining Inc.; however. Sirocco still operates in Chile as Atacama Minerals Chile (AMC). Sirocco management determined in 2012 that the agitated leach plant (ALP) at the Aqua Blancas operation was operating inefficiently; volcanic pebbles and chips in the feed reduced throughput, causing wear in the leach tanks. To rectify this, Sirocco ordered a semiautogenous grinding mill (SAG) to produce clean pebble reject and grind volcanic chips, enabling the ALP to operate at its designed capacity. Plans to install the SAG mill in 2014 were canceled, however, due to the readjustment in the price of iodine crystal. Installation is postponed until 2015. Iodine production for 2013 was reported at 1.436 kt (1.608.3 st), an increase of about 212 t (233 st) from 2012.
Sirocco Mining Inc. and Canadian Lithium Corp. announced that they had entered into an agreement that would combine the two businesses. The new company, known as RB Energy Inc., was finalized on Jan. 28, 2014, after a vote of Sirocco and Canadian Lithium shareholders.
AFC Minera, another Chilean iodine producer, expanded its capacity at its Algorta Norte project in Antofagasta state in a joint venture with Toyota Tsusho Corp.Toyota has a 25.5-percent share in the US$110 million endeavor (Watts, 2011). Construction of the plant began in May 2010 and went online in 2011. The project was expected to boost AFC Minera's production to 6 kt/s (6.720 stpy).
Campaniade Salitre y Yodo de Chile (Cosayach Group, CG), the second largest producer of iodine in Chile, had several water wells determined illegal at its operations at Negreiros, Soledad and Cala Cala. This caused a significant decrease in the company's production of iodine in 2012. Capacity of CG's three plants is 7.5 kt/a (8,267 stpy) but only 4 kt (4,409 st) iodine was expected given these operating conditions.
Four companies operating in the United States accounted for 100 percent of U.S. elemental iodine production. IOCHEM owns the largest U.S. iodine plant 1.2 km (0.7 miles) east of Vici. OK. Its annual production capacity is 1.2 kt (1,344 st). It is a subsidiary company of Toyota Tsusho America, Inc. A long-term contract with Schering AG of Germany accounts for the majority of IOCHEM's production.
Woodward Iodine, near the city of Woodward, OK, is owned by Ise Chemicals Corp. of Japan. MIC Specialty Chemicals (a subsidiary of Mitsubishi International) exclusively distributed the iodine produced by Woodward.
North American Brine Resources operates one miniplant outside of Dover. OK. It is operated as a limited liability company since it was sold to a group of U.S. private investors in 2003. Iodine-rich brines are delivered by truck to the Dover miniplant, which operates at an oilfield-injection-disposal site.
The iodine produced in Oklahoma comes from brines in the Morrow Formation (Pennsylvanian). Brines contain iodine concentrations of about 300 ppm. Production wells penetrate the Morrowan trench at depths ranging from 1.525 to 4,000 m (5.000 to 13,000 ft). The brines are delivered to the plants through a system of pipelines. Iodine is extracted from solution in a chemical process involving a series of oxidation and reduction reactions. The final product is elemental crystalline iodine of greater than 98 percent purity in either flake or prill form.
Iofina Inc., a newcomer to the North American iodine industry, is involved in exploring and producing iodine and natural gas on acreages known as the Atlantis and Triton projects, both in Montana. Further progress was delayed pending a 2014 meeting between Iofina and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to discuss and review Iofina's noncore water rights application.
In Oklahoma, Iofina's IO#2 plant began producing iodine in the fourth quarter of 2012. IO#3 plant, also in Oklahoma, began the production of iodine in the fourth quarter. IO#2 and IO#3 are extracting iodine from oilfield brines form natural gas wells in the Mississippi Lime play of southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma. Iofina plans three additional plants associated with Mississippi Lime production wells in 2014. It was announced on Aug. 2, 2013 that Iofina was awarded a U.S. patent for its WET IOsorb iodine extraction technology. The new technology provides mobility with small modular units and tolerates relatively high temperatures and hydrocarbon fouling. Patents were also applied for in Chile and Japan.
The USGS reported imports for consumption, crude content, of iodine in the United States from 5.96 kt (6,675 st) in 2012 to an estimated 5.65 kt (6,328 st) in 2013. Major uses in the United States include sanitation, pharmaceuticals, animal feed, catalysts, heat stabilizers and others (inks and colorants, photographic chemicals, laboratory reagents, production of batteries, high-purity metals, motor fuels and lubricants). Determining specific end-uses is difficult because iodine is used to manufacture a myriad of intermediate iodine compounds. According to the USGS, iodine and iodine compounds used were unspecified organic and inorganic compounds as reported by 13 industrial plant respondents, including ethyl and methyl iodide, 50 percent; potassium iodide, 13 percent; providine-iodine, 8 percent; ethylenediamine dihydroiodide, crude iodine, and hydriodic acid, 4 percent each; resublimed iodine, 2 percent; sodium iodide, 1 percent; and other inorganic compounds, 14 percent.
Major uses of iodine on a worldwide basis include X-ray contrast media; liquid crystal displays (LCD) polarizing film applications; iodophors; chemicals; organics; pharmaceuticals; human nutrition and animal feed; nylon production; and others. Iodophors are used in a variety of antiseptics, biocides, and disinfectants in medical and agricultural applications. Iodine is used as an important catalyst in the production of various chemical intermediates.
Developing nations, such as China and India, represent potential markets for traditional uses of iodine. New applications also offer potential new markets such as the substitution of chlorofluorocarbons with relatively benign fluoroiodocarbons in refrigerants, in aerosols, in plastic foam blowing, in metal and electronics cleaning, and in fire suppression systems.
One of the major reasons for the high demand for iodine in 2012 was the continued panic purchasing of KI (potassium iodide) pills after the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami, which caused the release of radioactive isotopes of iodine into the atmosphere when the nuclear power plant there was destroyed. KI blocks the uptake of radioactive iodine isotopes responsible for thyroid cancer. Panic purchase of KI took place in the Pacific Rim nations and as far across the Pacific as the western United States and beyond. 1131 from the nuclear disaster was reported in places as far away as New England. Much iodine was used, therefore, in the pharmaceutical manufacture of KI. The high demand for KI tablets ended in 2013, and supplies outpaced demand.
The demand for iodine still increased in several traditional applications such as a catalyst in the chemicals industry,particularly in acetic acid production. Acetic acid is used as a solvent in terephthalic acid used in the production of carbonated soft drink containers. The largest market for acetic acid is in the production of vinyl acetate.
Increased demand for iodine as a disinfectant and in water treatment increased as developing nations expanded treatment of water supplies.
With a large percentage of the population of industrialized nations (Japan, United States and Western Europe) over the age of 65 in the next decade, the demand for improved diagnostic testing in health care will grow, corresponding with increased demand for X-ray contrast media, which may contain up to 60 percent iodine.
The price for iodine at the beginning of 2013 was US$65 to $70 (iodine crystal, 99.5 percent min, drum, per kilogram; contract) and $65 to $85 (iodine crystal, 99.5 percent min, drum, per kilogram, spot); at the beginning of 2014 it was $45 to $55 (iodine crystal, 99.5 percent min, drum, per kilogram; contract) and $45 to $55 (iodine crystal, 99.5 percent min, drum, per kilogram, spot), as reported by Industrial Minerals. Although increased demand for X-ray contrast media, LCD polarizing films, LEDs, agricultural intermediates (agrochemicals), and human and animal nutrition remained high, prices were especially affected when panic purchasing of KI tablets subsided as recovery from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan occurred.
The continued demand for iodine should increase at a more moderate 2 percent to 4 percent pace in 2014. Prices should remain stable after adjustments in production (less) and supply (high) take place. Some predictions of a slow economic recovery suggest that, although iodine demand will continue in 2014, prices will remain stable as long as production rates decrease from those of 2013.
Bromine and chlorine could substitute for iodine in biocides, colorants and inks. But in most categories, they are considered inadequate. Iodine cannot be replaced in some pharmaceuticals, catalytic uses, and human and animal nutrition. Antibiotics and boron also may substitute for iodine as biocides. The sustained high prices for iodine, however, may provide the impetus for discovering new iodine substitutes and resurrecting older ones. One example is the collaboration between MIOX Corp. and Hydroclean exploring the use of less expensive mixed oxidants solutions to substitute for iodine used as a disinfectant in controlling Mastitiscausing pathogens in dairy cattle.
Research at Basel University in Switzerland successfully replaced iodine in copper-based, dyesensitized solar cells with cobalt. The cobalt compound replaces the iodine-based electron transport system with no loss in performance, thus increasing the sustainability of solar cells. Cobalt improves longterm stability by removing the degradation of copper compounds, avoiding the reaction with the electrolyte to form copper iodide. Whether the cobalt compound is a less expensive alternative is yet to be determined.
Nutrition researchers at the ETH Zurich, in collaboration with the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders, released their 2012 global study regarding the iodine intake of school-aged children (Andersson and others, 2012). They found that the number of countries with sufficient dietary iodine intake increased to 105, compared with 67 countries in 2003. The countries in which IDD persists are in South Asia and Africa: 76 million children in South Asia and 58 million in Africa, that is, only one in three receive adequate iodine in their diets.
As a consequence to the seriousness of IDD and its deleterious effects on pregnant women and fetal development and children in developed nations, the governments of New Zealand and Australia, as examples, mandated using iodized salt in the commercial baking of bread products in September and October 2009, respectively. A 2012 study by the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) found that the intake of iodine by children has significantly improved since the mandatory bread fortification policy went into effect. The policy ensures that school-age children have adequate iodine intakes to avoid iodine deficiency disorders.
Other research reported in 2013 from the University of Adelaide found that iodized salt used in baking bread was not sufficient for a pregnant woman and her unborn child. Unless the women tested were not taking iodine supplements, their iodine intake fell short of the 220pg necessary to maintain the health of the mother and for fetal brain development. A previous 2013 study in the U.K. found iodine deficiencies in women. The study at Surrey and Bristol universities showed the importance of adequate iodine uptake during early pregnancy. The study found that even mild iodine deficiency could lead to the risk of lower verbal IQ scores and lower reading abilities.
Scientists at the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2013 that iodine concentrations in pregnant women were significantly lower (144pg in 2009-2010) from earlier testing (164pg in 2007-2008). The major dietary sources of iodine in the United States are dairy, grain, seafood and, to a lesser extent. iodized salt. The report recommended that pregnant women continue to be monitored for iodine levels and that public health intervention include promoting iodine supplementation in pregnant women. In June 2013, the American Thyroid Association warned that ingesting iodine, KI, and kelp supplements in excess of 500pg could cause thyroid dysfunction. Recommended daily limits for iodine are 150pg for men and women; 220 to 250pg for pregnant women; and 250 to 290pg for women who are breastfeeding.
Researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research published a report in 2013 comparing intelligence of men born before 1924 and those born afterward; 1924 was the year iodization of salt began in the United States. The experiment compared intelligence tests taken by army recruits from World War I and from World War II (about two million male recruits born between 1921 and 1927 for the latter). The report found that men from geographic areas born in 1924 or later identified by deficient iodine intake had an average IQ that was 15 points higher than their predecessors. The average was a 3.5-point rise in IQ because of iodization. Part of the conclusion was the effective elimination of iodine deficiency and its symptoms. The study also may show that iodine alone may be responsible for the Flynn Effect: the 3.5-point increase in IQ per decade in developed countries throughout the 20th century. The previous cause was believed to be improved health and nutrition.
A Case Western Reserve University news release announced the discovery of a metal-free catalyst that outperformed platinum in fuel-cell oxygen-reduction reactions.The platinum-based catalysts were expensive and deficient. The new graphene-iodine catalyst generated 33 percent more current and retained 87.4 percent capacity after 10,000 cycles, outperforming the Pt-catalyst at 62.5 percent. Further testing showed that while carbon monoxide and methanol contamination seriously affected the Pt-catalyst, the graphene-iodine catalyst continued to function normally.
Scientists from the RIKEN Byon Initiative Research Unit of Japan developed a lithiumiodine battery with two times the energy density of conventional lithium-ion batteries. They replaced the organic electrolyte of the lithium battery with an aqueous iodine solution. Iodine was chosen because of its high solubility in water and ions that respond readily in aqueous electrochemical reactions. Advantages include reduced fire risk, reduced the environmental hazard, an inherently high ionic conductivity, and is more stable and less toxic than other heavy metal ions. Additionally the new battery has a high power storage capacity and can be recharged many hundred times effectively.
A NASA Small Spacecraft Technology Award was given to Busek Co. Inc. to develop new propulsion technology, the Iodine RF Ion Thruster (RFIT). Busek uses iodine as an alternative to xenon as a propellant. The iodine fuel provides a three-fold reduction in storage volume compared to traditional xenon propellant. Also, iodine can be stored as a solid below normal atmospheric pressure. These make iodine an ideal fuel for de-orbit systems or for orbit-raising and for storing launch-ready spacecraft in the
Seventeen companies mined kaolin in nine states in 2013. Production, on the basis of preliminary data, was estimated to be 5.95 Mt (6.56 million st) valued at $895 million, a slight decrease in tonnage from 2012. Production in Georgia, the leading producer state, increased to an estimated 5.47 Mt (6.03 million st) valued at $858 million in 2013 from 5.49 Mt (6.05 million st) valued at $836 million in 2012. Georgia accounted for 92 percent of U.S. production tonnage and nearly the entire domestic water-washed, delaminated and pigment-grade calcined kaolin production.
U.S. sales or use of kaolin decreased slightly in 2013. Sales to the paper industry were estimated to be 35 percent of domestic sales, 77 percent of export sales, and 48 percent of total sales. Other leading markets for kaolin (domestic and export sales combined) were refractory products (12 percent), paint (6 percent), catalysts and fiberglass (4 percent each) and rubber (3 percent). Smaller markets for kaolin were brick, ceramic floor and wall tile, chemicals, electrical porcelain, fine china, portland cement, pottery, roofing granules and sanitaryware. As a filler and extender, kaolin was sold for adhesives, animal feed, asphalt emulsions, cosmetics, fertilizers, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and plastics.
With growing demand for proppants used in hydraulic fracturing for increased gas and oil production, Imerys, a French investment group, purchased Pyramax Ceramics, LLC in Wrens, GA. Pyramax planned to use locally sourced kaolin to manufacture proppants used by the gas and oil industries during hydraulic fracturing of reservoir rock. Construction of a 204-kt/a (225,000-stpy) plant in Wrens, GA, was ongoing with full production scheduled in 2014. The Wrens plant will supplement existing production capacity at Imerys'Andersonville, GA, plant.
Applied Minerals, Inc. announced that it would venture into the ceramic proppant field using halloysite mined near Eureka, UT. The company entered into a joint agreement with OPF Enterprises LLC to develop a variety of ceramic proppants for use by the gas and oil industries.
I-Minerals Inc. continued drilling to determine the kaolin content of its Helmer-Bovill feldspar-kaolinquartz deposit in Idaho. Preliminary drilling of the WBL Pit and Middle Ridge areas showed that indicated mineral resources were 709 kt (782,000 st) for kaolin and 159 kt (175,000 st) for halloysite. The resources also included feldspathic sand and waste rock. Separation studies on the ore and an evaluation of the halloysite content of additional samples were ongoing.
The average unit value of U.S. kaolin production was $151/t ($137/st) in 2013, an increase from $146/t ($132/st) in 2012. The average value of exported kaolin was $227/t ($206/st) in 2013, a slight increase from $224/t ($203/st) in 2012. The average value of imported kaolin was $203/t ($184/st) in 2013, compared with $120/t ($109/st) in 2012. Brazil, the leading source of imported kaolin, accounted for most of the change in the average import value. Price increases could account for only part of the increase. Kaolin grades being shipped to the United States may have shifted somewhat. Several major domestic and foreign kaolin producers announced price increases of 4 percent to 7 percent, depending on the kaolin product.
About 276 kt (304,000 st) of kaolin valued at $56 million was imported in 2013, compared with 472 kt (520,000 st) valued at $56.8 million in 2012. Brazil was the source of 93 percent of U.S. imports of kaolin. Some of the imports from Brazil were likely destined for Canadian paper plants because more than 85 percent was imported to Searsport, ME, where a shipping terminal distributes kaolin to paper plants in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. In 2013, kaolin exports were 2.54 Mt (2.80 million st) valued at $577 million compared with 2.45 Mt (2.70 million st) valued at $549 million in 2012. Japan accounted for 18 percent of U.S. kaolin exports in 2013, followed by Mexico (13 percent), China and Finland (11 percent each), and Canada (8 percent).
World production was 37 Mt (40.8 million st) in 2013, a slight increase from 2011. The amount of processed kaolin sold or used was estimated to be between 24 and 26 Mt (26.5 and 28.7 million st) in 2013. The United States continued to lead in the production of refined kaolin, followed by Brazil and the United Kingdom.
In the United Kingdom, Imerys, the world's leading kaolin producer, received final approval of its purchase of the kaolin operations of Goonvean Ltd. The Goonvean kaolin pit is adjacent to Imerys' Wheal Martyn pit and its plants in Greensplat and Trelarvour have a combined annual capacity of 200 kt (220,000 st) of refined product, used mainly for ceramics, paper and porcelain.
Quarzwerke GmbH, whose subsidiary. Amberger Kaolinwerke Eduard Kick GmbH, is the leading kaolin producer in Germany and Poland, acquired an 87-percent share of Kaolin AD, a leading Bulgarian industrial minerals producer with kaolin operations near Senovo.
Australian Minerals and Mining Group Ltd. (AMMG) used kaolin from its deposits in Western Australia to produce a 99.9 percent purity alumina. The company, wanting to use the niche alumina market as a means to compete as a small-scale kaolin producer, expects to produce a 99.99 percent purity alumina using newly developed processing technology that is more energy efficient than other processes. High purity alumina is used to manufacture sapphire for LED markets as well as semiconductors, phosphors and lithium-ion batteries. It also is used as a substrate in automotive sensors.
The kaolin industry has not had an extended period of growth for the past 24 years. A little less than 50 percent of kaolin sales were for the paper market; competition from calcium carbonate as a paper coating and filler and the general downturn in the U.S. paper industry for the past five to seven years resulted in a decline in sales to the domestic paper market. Exports of kaolin to foreign paper markets, particularly in Asia, have partially offset declines in kaolin sales in the United States.
The U.S. Census Bureau indicated that the value of shipments from pulp, paper and paperboard mills declined by 1.6 percent in 2013 compared with that of 2012. The value of manufacturers' shipments in 2013, compared with those of 2012, increased by 3.2 percent for plastics and rubber products (kaolin use as fillers and extenders), 7.7 percent for transportation equipment (using products containing kaolin fillers and extenders), and 0.6 percent for primary metals (many of which depend on kaolin-based refractory products for their manufacture). Annual growth in global refractory markets was expected to be 3.3 percent through 2016, although sales of refractory products may continue to be slow in Europe because of the economic situation there. These data suggest that U.S. sales of kaolin in 2013 for these markets may increase at the same rate as in 2012.
Kaolin also is sold for construction-related products, such adhesives, brick, caulk, electrical porcelain, fiberglass, floor and wall tile, joint compounds, paint, portland cement, roofing granules, rug backings and sanitaryware. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that starts for privately owned housing units were 923.000 in 2013 compared with 781,000 in 2011, an 18-percent increase. The annualized value of residential and nonresidential construction put in place in 2013 increased by 5 percent to $898 billion from $857 billion in 2012. Despite this, housing starts still remain lower than prerecession rates. The Census Bureau reported the value of manufacturer's shipments of adhesives, coatings, and paints, all valuable constructionrelated kaolin markets, increased 2.4 percent in 2013. The manufacturing and housing data suggest that domestic sales of kaolin for construction markets may increase slightly in 2014.
In 2013. economic growth in many European countries remained low, and economic growth in several Asian countries remained lower than in the five years prior to 2011. Because these countries were significant importers of kaolin, export sales of kaolin may increase only slightly in 2014. *
Lime production is the leading chemical use for limestone and dolomite. The term "lime" in this review refers to high calcium and dolomitic quicklime, their hydroxide forms and dead-burned dolomite. Lime is also reacted with water to produce calcium hydroxide (hydrated lime. Type N hydrate. Type S hydrate), and high calcium lime can also be reacted with carbon dioxide (CO,) to make precipitated calcium carbonate.
Lime is produced in rotary kilns and vertical shaft kilns, mostly fired with coal or natural gas. In the process, limestone is heated to high temperatures causing carbon dioxide (CO,) to be liberated from the calcium carbonate (CaCO.) and magnesium carbonate (MgCO,) in dolomite, resulting in calcium oxide and magnesium oxide.
Lime has many industrial uses. In the metallurgical industries, lime is used as a fluxing agent in the manufacture of steel, as well as a foaming agent in slag, and works to protect the refractory. Between 22.7 to 54.4 kg (50 to 120 lbs) of high calcium and dolomitic lime are consumed in the production of one ton of steel. In the nonferrous metal industries, high calcium lime is used in ore flotation for pH control.
Lime also has several environmental uses including the removal of sulfur dioxide (SO,) and hydrochloric acid (HCL) in wet and dry scrubbing of industrial gases. Lime is the leading treatment chemical in drinking water applications. It is also used in the treatment of waste water, biosolid sludge, leaching of metals, neutralization of acidic mine water and is emerging as a treatment for animal waste.
High calcium lime is also precipitated by reaction with carbon dioxide to form precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC), an innovative product that is primarily used as a filler and coating in the manufacture of alkaline paper products. PCC is also used in the manufacture of paints, polymers and in the healthcare industry in the manufacture of antacids and calcium supplements.
Finally, lime is also used in soil stabilization and asphalt paving applications, the manufacture of refractories, by various food industries and the manufacture of other chemicals.
In 2013, U.S. quicklime and hydrate production was estimated to be 19 Mt (21 million st), an increase of less than 1 percent from 2012. Lime and hydrate pricing increased less than 1 percent in 2013, reversing a trend of annual price increases during the past 10 years.
Lime exports increased 23 percent in 2013 to 259.5 kt (286,000 st). Lime imports were 399.3 kt (440,000 st). Most of the lime imports came from Canada and Mexico.
Lime was produced at approximately 76 plants in the United States in 29 states and Puerto Rico. Of these, 10 companies produced lime solely for internal consumption, such as sugar refining and, in one case, steel making. The four leading producers were responsible for about 75 percent of U.S. lime production. Principal producing states of lime (in descending order) were Missouri, Kentucky, Alabama, Ohio and Texas.
Carmeuse Lime and Stone announced plans to construct two vertical shaft lime kilns at an idle facility in Frederick County, VA. Carmeuse also announced the construction of a new lime facility in Jacksonville, FL in partnership with Keystone Properties LLC.
The lime industry continues to monitor U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revisions to the Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT) rules. In 2013, the EPA issued the Cement Industry MACT, which was immediately challenged in court by environmental groups. A major part of the challenge was the revised particulate standard, as well as the affirmative defense rule regarding malfunctions.
There has been no announcement regarding the issuance of a revised MACT standard for the lime industry at this time. *
In 2013, estimated world lithium consumption was about 30 kt (33,000 st) of lithium contained in minerals and compounds, a 6-percent increase from 2012. Estimated U.S. consumption was about 2 kt (2,200 st) of contained lithium, the same as that of 2012. The United States was thought to rank fourth in global consumption of lithium and remained the leading importer of lithium carbonate and the leading producer of value-added lithium materials. One company, Rockwood Lithium Inc., produced lithium compounds from domestic brine resources near Silver Peak, NV.
U.S. imports of lithium compounds in 2013 were 11.9 kt (13,100 st), a decrease of 20 percent, compared with 2012. Import sources of lithium chemicals were Chile, 58 percent; Argentina, 39 percent and others, 3 percent. Exports of lithium compounds from the United States were 7.3 kt (8,000 st), a decrease of 5 percent compared with 2012. About 60 percent of all U.S. exports of lithium compounds went to Belgium, Germany and Japan, which received 630 t (694 st), 1,5901 (1,750 st) and 2,1901 (2,400 st), respectively. The remainder was divided among many other countries.
The two dominant sources of lithium are brines and hard rock deposits. Essentially, the same lithium compounds can be produced from either type of deposit, but owing to lower costs typically required to produce lithium compounds from brine deposits, as compared with those from hard rock ores, brines became the main source for lithium compound production at the end of the 1990s. Owing to growing lithium concentrate demand from China's chemical companies (where the concentrate is converted to battery-grade lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide) during the last several years, however, mineral-sourced lithium regained market share and was estimated to account for one-half of the world's lithium supply in 2013. Lithium concentrates for ceramics and glass applications come from hard rock deposits. The lithium content of the minerals added to the ceramics and glass melt reduces their melting temperature and viscosity and increases their resistance to thermal shock; other constituents of the concentrates provide other important glass components. Potential additional sources of lithium include geothermal brines, hectorite clay, jaderite and oilfield brines.
Chile has been the global leader in the production of lithium carbonate since 1997. the year that it surpassed the United States. Rockwood Lithium and Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (SQM) operated lithium brine facilities on the Salar de Atacama in the Andes Mountains with lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide (SQM)/lithium carbonate and lithium chloride (Rockwood) plants in Antofagasta.
In Argentina, FMC Corp. produced lithium carbonate and lithium chloride from brines from the Salar de Hombre Muerto in the Andes Mountains. The company expanded its lithium carbonate production capacity in 2013. ADY Resources Ltd. continued limited commercial brine production at the Salar del Rincón in Argentina's Salta province. In China, lithium compounds were produced at two brine operations and from lithium minerals. China was the only country producing lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide from domestic and imported lithium minerals.
Talison Minerals Ltd. in Australia was, by far, the leading producer of lithium concentrates, but Brazil, Portugal and Zimbabwe also produced significant quantities. In 2013, China'sChengdu Tianqi Industry (Group) Co., Ltd. acquired Talison. In December, Rockwood Lithium signed an agreement to acquire 49 percent of the Australian operation from Chengdu Tianqi. Australia'sGalaxy Resources Ltd. began commercial production at its new lithium carbonate plant in the Jiangxi province of China.
Rockwood Lithium and FMC are the world's leading producers of downstream lithium chemicals, with U.S. operations in Bessemer City, NC, Kings Mountain, NC and New Johnsonville, TN. Their downstream lithium chemicals are typically derived from lithium carbonate, lithium chloride and lithium hydroxide, most of which are imported from Argentina and Chile. In 2013, Rockwood Lithium doubled the lithium carbonate production capacity at its Silver Peak, NV, operation.
Consulting firm Roskill Information Services Ltd. listed the following global distribution for lithium used in 2013: ceramics and glass, 35 percent; batteries, 29 percent; lubricating greases. 9 percent; continuous casting mold flux powders, 6 percent; air treatment, 5 percent; polymer production, 5 percent; primary aluminum production, 1 percent: and other uses, 10 percent. Lithium's important properties include lowdensity, high specific heat, low coefficient of thermal expansion, high electrochemical potential and excellent thermal conductivity.
Although traditional markets are still dominant to the lithium industry, batteries have rapidly gained importance because lithium-ion batteries are used extensively in portable electronic devices. In addition, lithium-ion batteries are being used increasingly in portable electric tools, hybrid-electric vehicles (HEV), plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEV), electric vehicles (EV) and grid storage applications.
New developments in lithium battery technology, including the use of nanotechnology that enables very fast charging for rechargeable lithium, have potential for significant growth. Widespread use of lithium-ion batteries in HEVs, PHEVs and EVs could create high demand for lithium chemicals in the near future. From 2000 to 2013, consumption of lithium for nonbattery uses also increased, but at lower rates. In response to future lithium consumption increases, brine operations are expected to be able to expand production capacity relatively quickly to increase supply.
Lithium markets became very competitive when SQM entered the market in 1998, and it has been difficult to obtain consistent price information since that time. Producers negotiate with consumers on an individual basis and contract price information typically is not reported. Lithium prices, however, are thought to have remained flat during 2013 owing to the balanced increase in worldwide lithium consumption and production. Many companies continued exploring for lithium, with numerous claims in Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Canada and the United States having been leased or staked.
Lithium supply security has become a top priority for Asian technology companies. Strategic alliances and joint ventures have been, and continue to be, established with lithium exploration companies to ensure a reliable, diversified supply of lithium for Asia's battery producers and vehicle manufacturers. Because lithium carbonate is one of the lowest-cost components of a lithium-ion battery, the concern was not supplier cost differences or production efficiency but supply security attained by acquiring lithium from diversified sources.
Substitutes for lithium compounds and metal are possible in glass, ceramics, greases and batteries. Examples are sodic and potassic fluxes in ceramics and glass manufacture; calcium and aluminum soaps as substitutes for stearates in greases; and calcium, magnesium, mercury and zinc as anode material in primary batteries. Lithium is preferred to these potential substitutes, however, because lithium's physical and chemical properties make it the superior material for most of its applications.
Lithium supply security has become a top priority for Asian technology companies. Strategic alliances and joint ventures have been, and continue to be, established with lithium exploration companies to ensure a reliable, diversified supply of lithium for Asia's battery producers and vehicle manufacturers. Because lithium carbonate is one of the lowest-cost components of a lithium-ion battery, the concern was not supplier cost differences or production efficiency but supply security attained by acquiring lithium from diversified sources.
Magnesium oxide is the largest magnesium compound by tonnage consumed in the United States. There are three major classes of magnesium oxide (MgO), depending on the production temperature. As the production temperature increases, the crystal size becomes larger by sintering and the surface area is reduced, which results in an MgO with lower reactivity. Deadbumed and fused magnesias are used in applications requiring an inert material at high temperatures, whereas caustic grades are used in applications where some degree of chemical reactivity is needed.
MgO can be further classified by being natural or synthetic. Natural refers to the calcination of magnesite (MgC03) to form MgO that has purity in the 92-percent to 97-percent range. The majority of synthetic magnesia tonnage is produced by the precipitation of brine or seawater using calcitic or dolomitic lime to form magnesium hydroxide, which is then calcined to generate magnesia with 96 percent to 98.5 percent purity. There are two other synthetic manufacturing techniques to produce purity more than 99 percent, the Aman and Pattinson processes. In the Aman process, magnesium chloride is calcined to form insoluble MgO and the soluble salts like calcium chloride are removed by washing. In the Pattinson process, magnesia is carbonated under high pressure to form soluble magnesium bicarbonate solution and the impurities are removed by filtration.
The largest single application, 53 percent by tonnage, for any grade of magnesium oxide is refractories for which steel production is the major use. Deadbumed magnesia (DBM) and fused magnesia (FM) are used to make bricks that line steel furnaces and are added into gunning compounds that repair and extend the life of the brick linings. Steel production consumes about 5 kg (11 lbs) of magnesium oxide per ton of steel. There are small applications for DBM in ceramics, leather tanning and phosphate cements. Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties LLC in Manistee, MI is the only domestic producer of synthetic DBM, also known as periclase.
Fused magnesia outperforms DBM in some refractory applications where its higher purity, higher density and larger crystal size are advantages. FM has the unique property of being an electrical insulator but also a thermal conductor. For this reason, fused magnesia is widely used in sheathed electrical heating elements. The sole U.S. producer of fused magnesia, UCM Magnesia in Cherokee AL, ceased operations in late 2012.
Domestic steel production in 2013 increased 2.6 percent from 2012 to 88.7 Mt (98 million st). Steel demand is expected to grow slightly in 2014. A major use for North American steel is for light vehicles for which production exceeded 16 million units in 2013,5 percent more than in 2012. Light vehicle demand is expected to increase by 4 percent in 2014.
There is a continuing shift worldwide away from a heavy dependency on Chinese raw materials to a more diversified sourcing, an effort to assure reliability in supply and more predictable cost. The published U.S. imports of DBM and FM totaled 215 kt (237,000 st) down 27 percent from 2012 and 44 percent from 2011. However, based on steel and light vehicle production, imports should have been closer to the previous two years. In 2012, China accounted for 55 percent of the imports but, in 2013, it represented only 50 percent. Imports from Brazil grew from a 17-percent share in 2012 to 32 percent in 2013. Exports of deadbumed and fused magnesia was 23 kt (25,300 st) in 2012, an increase of 10 percent from 2012, with South Africa (43 percent) and Canada (33 percent) being the principal destinations.
Chinese steel mills are currently using 23 kg (50 lbs) of total refractories per ton of steel and have announced a goal to reduce consumption by 2016 to 15 kg (33 lbs), closer to the world class standard. The utilization rate for Chinese steel mills was only 72 percent in 2013, which is hurting profits. The government has decided to close less efficient mills to improve profits and reduce energy demand and pollution. Both moves will significantly lessen the demand for raw materials used in refractories.
Grecian Magnesite and the UCM Magnesia division of Imerys have jointly developed a very high-purity FM with a very large crystal size for high end refractory applications. RHI of Austria is continuing its strategy of becoming self-sufficient in raw materials by acquiring an idle DBM operation in Ezurum Turkey and expanding its capacity to 100 kt/a (110,000 stpy).
In 2013, there were two major domestic producers of reactive grades of magnesia: Martin Marietta using the brine precipitation using dolomitic lime route and Premier Magnesia LLC in Gabbs, NV by the causticcalcined magnesite (CCM) process. The principal uses were for environmental treatment, agriculture (mostly for animal feed), chemical intermediates, construction (phosphate, oxychloride and other cements) and specialized applications, such as rubber and pharmaceuticals. The growth in these applications has been flat to slow.
The one CCM application that is growing worldwide is in hydrometallurgy for cobalt and nickel. CCM, in particular synthetic magnesia, increases the yield and concentration of metal hydroxides, compared with lime and other alkalis.
Domestic CCM production in 2013 was 152 kt (167,500 st), about 2 percent less than in 2012. Imports in 2013 increased by 16 percent to 133 kt/a ( 146,600 st), compared with 2012. China (54 percent), Canada (28 percent) and Australia (15 percent) were the major importing countries. These products were mostly for agricultural uses and environmental treatment. Export quantity was probably 10 to 15 kt (11,000 to 1,650 st).
Kumis Kutahya Manyesit acquired BonMag in Turkey and expanded its CCM production to 50 kt/a (55,000 stpy) with a goal of making higher purity CCM. Grecian Magnesite, through its holdings in Akdeniz, Turkey, is doubling its CCM capacity to more than 30 kt/a (33,000 stpy). Terna Mag in Greece started to ship raw magnesite and is planning to enter CCM and DBM markets.
The fastest growing magnesium chemical is magnesium hydroxide. The estimated production for 2013 was 190 to 200 kt (209,000 to 220,000 st), up about 5 percent from 2012. The majority of the tonnage was for aqueous slurry. The growth of magnesium hydroxide slurry may account for the slow growth for CCM, because it is easier to meter slurry than to accurately feed a powder into a reactor at the end users' locations. Depending on the manufacturer, the aqueous suspension contains 45 percent to 62 percent Mg(OH), by weight. Three different processes are used to manufacture the slurry:
* Brine/seawater precipitation by calcitic lime or dolomitic lime: Martin Marietta (Manistee. MI), Tetra Technologies (El Dorado, AR) and SPI Pharma (Lewes, DE).
* Slaking caustic-calcined magnesite: Premier Magnesia (Gabbs, NV), Inland Environmental Resources (Pasco, WA) and PolyTec Inc. (North Little Rock, AR).
There can be significant differences in performance among the slurries depending on the manufacturer. Companies that slaked CCM or suspend naturally occurring brucite have multiple production locations to serve the market.
Magnesium hydroxide is competitive against caustic soda in terms of performance and costs. Being a mild alkali, magnesium hydroxide is relatively safe to handle, compared with caustic soda, and does not require hazardous warnings by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Magnesium hydroxide buffers at a pH of 9, which is near the optimum pH for precipitating many hazardous metals. In biological wastewater treatment systems, the pH buffering effect prevents killing of the bacteria due to an alkali overdose that can be experienced with caustic soda. Magnesium hydroxide slurry has found applications in waste water treatment plants, aerobic and anaerobic digesters, air emissions scrubbers from electric power plants, odor control in municipal sewage systems, paper pulp bleaching and others.
Specialty grades of magnesium hydroxide are used in demanding applications like antacids, nutraceuticals and as a flame retardant in wire and cable coatings. These applications required higher purity and specific physical properties to function properly.
Imports of magnesium hydroxide in 2013 were 5.7 kt (6,280 st), an increase of 7 percent from 2012. Imports were mostly consumed in high-end applications like pharmaceuticals and as flame retardants in wire and cable. Austria (35 percent), Israel (32 percent) and the Netherlands (10 percent) were the major importers. U.S. exports were up 11 percent to 24.8 kt/a (27,300 stpy) in 2013. The major destinations were Canada (60 percent), Sweden (13 percent), Mexico (7 percent) and Taiwan (7 percent).These exports were mostly used in waste water treatment, fuel additives and pulp bleaching.
The major commercial magnesium chloride producers include Great Salt Lake Minerals Co. and Intrepid Wendover Potash LLC.both in Utah, and South Bay Salts Works in California. Great Salt Lake Minerals has a solar evaporation process. The bulk of production is for magnesium chloride solution (approximately 30 percent MgCl, by weight), with minor amounts of magnesium chloride hexahydrate crystals.
The principal uses for magnesium chloride are for dust control/road stabilization and deicing. Magnesium chloride is hygroscopic and its solution is sprayed on dirt/gravel roads to reduce dust by absorbing moisture. Frequently, magnesium chloride solution, 30 percent by weight, is added to the roads prior to a snow/ice event to prevent an ice layer from forming. Anticorrosive agents are frequently added to the solution. Magnesium chloride is reported to function as low as -150° C (-238° F) as compared to -90° C (-130° F) for sodium chloride. Due to its relatively high cost, as compared to other deicers, its market potential is probably limited to more specialized applications. There is a small amount of chemical uses such as in textiles, oxychloride cements and artificial seawater for aquariums. One U.S. company employs the electrolysis process on magnesium chloride to produce magnesium metal.
Imports of magnesium chloride in 2013 were down 13 percent to 48 kt (53,000 st), compared with 2012 due to a relatively mild winter. Israel (55 percent), Netherlands (27 percent) and Germany (13 percent) were the major importers. ICL, in Israel, extracts magnesium chloride from the Dead Sea. NedMag in the Netherlands solution mines brine with a high magnesium chloride content. Exports were down slightly to 9 kt (10,000 st), with Canada receiving 90 percent of the total. There are no magnesium chloride producers in Canada. *
The mica group represents 34 different phyllosilicate minerals that exhibit a layered or platy structure. Commercially important mica minerals are muscovite and phlogopite. Muscovite is the principal mica used. It is more abundant and has a white color and better electrical properties. Phlogopite, a magnesium iron mica, is more temperature stable. It is used in applications where a combination of high heat stability and electrical properties is required.
The uses of mica are divided into two sectors - scrap and flake, and sheet. Scrap and flake is the larger sector by a large margin.
Sheet mica. Sheet mica comprises block and splittings. Splittings are built up into sheet. U.S. consumption during 2012 was 285 t (314 st), up from 271 t (299 st) in 2011. These products had a high unit value of $l,720/t ($1,560 st) .They were mainly used to produce insulation for electrical motors. At one time consumption was much higher, but has almost disappeared due to the loss of the electrical motor manufacturing sector to Asia.
Most sheet products used in North America are imported from India, China, the United Kingdom, Austria and Japan. A small amount of sheet scrap is produced from pegmatite mining in the United States. Small amounts of sheet and scrap mica were produced from the Morefield Gem Mine in Amelia Co., VA.
World production of sheet mica products in 2011 was about 5.2 kt (5,730 st), with India as the largest producer of mica sheet, reported to be 3.5 kt (3,858 st). Russia was second with 1.5 kt (1,700 st).
Scrap, flake and powder. Muscovite and phlogopite are used in sheet and ground forms. Ground muscovite is further divided into wetand dry-ground products. In 2012, world production of mined mica, mostly muscovite, was about 1.1 Mt (1.2 million st), the same as in 2011. In the United States, muscovite scrap and flake mica for grinding is recovered as a coproduct or byproduct from domestic feldspar, kaolin, silica, mica schist and scrap sheet processing operations.
In India and China, mica is largely mined for itself by low-cost, manual labor. Principal producers of phlogopite scrap, flake and powders are Russia, Canada, Madagascar and Finland. Other countries mainly produce muscovite.
China mined 770 kt (848,000 st) of mica in 2012. Russia was reported to have produced 100 kt (110,000 st) during 2012, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Finland was third with 39.6 kt (43,650 st), of which 27,493 t (30,305 st) were biotite/phlogopite, but only about 10 percent of this is further processed. Kemira's phlogopite powder business was sold to Minelco. United Nations reports total exports of mica from Finland at 9.2 Kt (10,100 st) in 2012, valued at $450/t ($408/st), up from 8.5 kt (9,400 st) in 2011, valued at $460/t ($417/st).
Canadian production of brown phlogopite mica is believed to be about 25 kt to 30 kt (27,500 to 33,000 st), based on United Nations export data, but the USGS only reports 16 kt (17,600 st).
The United States is reported to be fourth with 47.5 kt (52,400 st). The Republic of Korea followed with 32 kt (35,000 st).
U.S. mine production of scrap and flake mica in 2012 was estimated to be 47.5 kt (52,000 st), down from 52 kt (57,300 st) in 2011. The peak year for mica production was 2006 (110 kt or 121,000 st). The drop is probably due to the downturn in construction and automobile production.
The average value for mine scrap and flake in 2012 was $128/t ($116/st),down from $133/t ($120/st) in 2011.
Scrap and flake mica were processed to produce an estimated 78.5 kt (86,500 st) of ground mica in 2012, compared to 80.4 kt (88,600 st) in 2011.
After processing, the value increases. Dry grinding increased the average value of the scrap from $128 to $332/t ($116 to $301/st). Producers increased prices in 2012/2013 .Wet ground mica sold for $651/t ($718/st) in 2012 the same as in 2011.
In 2012, muscovite mica was mined by eight companies in five states with the largest amount mined in South Dakota. Other producing states were North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.
The three wet grinders were: BASF Corp.Hartwell, GA; Georgia Industrial Minerals, Deepstep, GA; and Kings Mountain Mining. Kings Mountain, NC. a division of Imerys SA.
The principal dry grinders were: Georgia Industrial Minerals, Deepstep, G A; Pacer Corp., Custer, SD; Kings Mountain Mining, Kings Mountain, NC; Piedmont Minerals Corp., Hillsborough, NC; Unimin, Spruce, Pine, NC; K-T Feldspar, Spruce Pine, NC; The Mineral Mining Co, Kershaw, SC; and JMays LLC; Tinton Enterprises, Spearfish, SD.
US Gypsum, Spruce Pine, NC also dry grinds mica, mainly for its internal use as a key ingredient in gypsum wallboard joint compound.
Phlogopite mica is produced commercially in Canada, Russia, Finland and probably China and India. Suzorite Mica is Canada's only mica producer. It is now a subsidiary of Imerys. Suzorite Mica Products is North America's only producer of dry-ground phlogopite flake and powders. The company continued to be the dominant exporter of mica to the United States, mainly for use in plastics. Suzorite Mica production is about 25 to 30 kt/a (27.500 to 33,000 stpy). This has been fairly constant over the last decade. At one time, almost all of this was exported to the United States. But now, only about half goes to the U.S.
The balance of Suzorite exports goes to Asia and Europe. Total exports were 21 kt (23,000 st), average value $565/t ($622/st) in 2012, up from 20 kt (22,000 st), average value $545/t ($494/st), in 2011, but still down from the mid 2000s, the peak export years when 22 kt to 23 kt (24,000 to 25,500 st) were exported.
Phlogopite is also produced as a byproduct of apatite mining by Kemira in Finland. Part of this is refined and dry ground by Minelco.There is potential for more phlogopite to become available as byproduct of graphite and vanadium mining ventures in Madagascar.
Reed Resources at Mt. Marion, Western Australia produce 60 kt (66,000 st) of mica as a byproduct of spodumene and tantalite production. New sources of phlogopite mica from Canada may be coming on line.
Globex Mining has acquired the Sisco deposit previously owned by Suzorite Mica, and located off the mine road to Suzorite's Bedard Mine, near McCarthy, QC. This deposit is reported to contain 5 Mt to 6 Mt (5.5 to 6.6 million st) of mica grading 70 to 90 percent mica plus apatite. Globex has also acquired the Lamy deposit, close to the village of Lamy, QC. Reserves are quoted as 1.17 Mt (1.29 million st), grade 60 percent mica and 10 percent apatite. This project is on hold as of January 2014.
DNA Precious Metals Inc. has considerable reserves of phlogopite flakes in the gold tailings iy proposes to work near Shawinigan, QC.
U.S. imports of mica powders and waste started to drop after 2006, due to the economic downturn, particularly in the construction and automotive sectors. In 2012, imports were down to 26 kt (28,600 st) from the high of 45 kt (49,000 st) in 2006, but showed recovery over imports of 18 kt (20,000 st) in 2009. A total of 24.3 kt (26,800 st) of 2011 imports were in the form of powders. A large portion of the imported mica was phlogopite flake and powders coming from Canada.
Suzorite exports to the United States in 2012 were 12,120 t (13,360 st), valued at $539/t ($489/st).This was up from 12,050 t (13,280 st) average value $505/t ($458/ st) in 2011.
United Nations data shows Finnish exports of phlogopite mica to the United States in 2012 at 1.5 kt (1,653 st) value $320/t ($290/st) f.o.b. mine.
A total of 6.2 kt (6,800 st) of mica, mostly powderswith an average value of $225/t ($204/st) were imported from China in 2011. In 2009, the amount was about the same at 6.8 kt (7,500 st).
U.S. exports of mica powder in 2012 totaled 5.8 kt (6,400 st). with a value of $l,371/t ($1,243 st) down from $1,500/t ($1,360 st). in 2011. In 2012,3961 (436 st) of crude and rifted mica, valued at $1,831/t ($1.661/st), were exported by the United States.
In 2011, the largest importers of U.S. mica powders were Canada, Mexico. Japan, the Republic of Korea, France, Germany, Brazil, Columbia and the Netherlands.
In 2012.69 percent (42.6 kt or 47,000 st) of ground mica was used in gypsum wallboard joint compound as a filler and extender. It provides a smoother consistency, improved workability and crack prevention.
The paint industry used 21.3 percent (16.7 kt or 18,400 st) of the ground mica production as a pigment extender. It also facilitates suspension due to its relatively low specific gravity and platy morphology. The ground mica also reduces checking and chalking, and prevents shrinkage and peeling of the paint film. It also provides increased resistance to water penetration and weathering, and brightens the tone of colored pigments. Wet ground mica is preferred for use in paint.
About 14 percent (11 kt or 12,000 st) of total mica consumption, was used in the well-drilling industry in 2012 as an additive to drilling fluids. This is up from 9 percent in 2010 - probably due to the upsurge in well drilling in the United States because of high oil prices and drilling for gas. Coarsely ground mica flakes help prevent lost circulation by sealing porous sections of the uncased drill hole. Demand for this end use has been as high as 25 kt (27,500 st) in the past. It depends on the need to drill deep holes in strata with large pores or voids. This use is increasing as the high price of oil makes deep well drilling economical.
About 2.7 percent (2.1 kt (2,300 st) of ground muscovite mica consumption in 2012 was used to reinforce plastics, mainly for automotive uses. The phlogopite mica imports used mainly in plastics needs to be added for automotive uses. Mica adds strength, stiffness, temperature resistance and dimensional stability and it reduces permeability to gases and liquids. It does this while maintaining a smooth, glossy surface unlike its competitor, glass and fibers. These properties are particularly enhanced when the mica is well delaminated into high-aspect-ratio grades and is treated with adhesion-enhancing chemicals such as silanes. Mica is used in nonstructural parts, such as glove boxes, heater ducts and housings, in wraparound fenders, fascias and cargo boxes.
About 4 kt (4,400 st) of wet ground mica are used as the base for pearlescent pigments. The 60-mesh mica flakes imported from China and South Africa have been wet ground in the United States to make these pigments, some of which probably account for the high value of U.S. exports.
Synthetic mica is made by fusing a mixture of minerals containing potassium, magnesium and silicon. The source minerals are selected for purity, especially freedom from iron and other elements that give color. Synthetic mica was developed in the 1950s as a pure mica, free from combined moisture, for electronic applications.
Eckhart Effect Pigments Division of Altona Group, a major manufacturer of pearlescent pigments, has switched to synthetic mica and borosilicates as a feed stock. Eckhart has sold the natural mica business based in Pori, Finland to Subarshan Chemical Industries of India. The plant in Poris is now closed and the pigments based on natural muscovite will be made in India.
Youjia Pearlescent Mica Co of Jiangsu, China produced synthetic mica in 2011 - 4,1631 (4,560 st) as flakes and 3,627 t (4,000 st) in powder form. This is 60 to 69 percent of global production. The compant plans to invest in increased capacity.
Chinese synthetic mica sells as low as $228/t ($206/st). It is converted to pearlescent pigments by the deposition of a thin layer of titanium dioxide with or without other oxides. The pigments sell for $7,700/t ($7,000/st), and $8,000/t ($7,260/st) for cosmetic grades.
These pigments are used in cosmetics, plastics packaging and automotive coatings. Use in automotive plastics is expected to grow with the replacement of automotive coatings by self-colored plastic exterior body parts.
Chinese sources mention the use of synthetic mica paper in fireproof belts. These were required by Chinese regulations during the 1990s as the fireproof and insulating layer for fireproof cable. This market had already grown to 1 kt (1,100 st) in 2013. With increasing concern in the West about fireproofing buildings and cars, this could develop into a major market.
Large flake mica is also used in sound proofing and vibration damping applications, especially in the automotive industry. The mica is dispersed in an asphalt or urethane polymer and is applied to the back side of carpeting and to metal surface under the vehicle and in the trunk.
The rubber industry uses ground mica as inert filler and as mold lubricant to manufacture molded rubber products, including tires.
Low-value, impure ground mica is used to produce rolled roofing and asphalt shingles. In this application, it serves as inert filler and as a surface-coating lubricant to prevent sticking to adjacent surfaces.
Other minor uses of ground mica include decorative coatings on wallpaper and on concrete, stucco and tile surfaces. It is also used as an ingredient in some special greases and as a coating for cores and molds in casting metal and alloys. It is also used as a flux coating on welding rods.
Electrical mica usage has been static for many years because of competition from more cost-effective plastics. Mica is only needed for high temperature applications. Synthetic fluorphlogopite mica is more effective, but it also costs more.
Mica has been shown not to be a health risk, whereas finer glass fibers are reported to be hazardous.
The companies that produce mica are being acquired by large minerals producers/traders and financial groups. There is speculation that industrial minerals are underpriced when compared to metals, and that these acquisitions presage increases in prices.
Mica depends heavily on the construction and transportation industries. Both have been in the doldrums, but there are signs of recovery. Automobile production has moved to Asia and is not likely to move back.This industry relies heavily on polymers for plastic parts and coatings, both of which use considerable amounts of mica as filler and reinforcement.
The housing industry will recover eventually, and this is not in great danger of competition from imports. Imported wallboard from China that outgased sulfur caused massive damage and lawsuits .This will mitigate against any future imports in this sector.
Prices of polymers have escalated due to the high price of oil. High volume polymers like polypropylene (PP) now sell for $1.10-1.32/lb ($2,424-2,909/1, Jan 25, 2014). Such prices make the use of mica and other extenders highly desirable.
Typically, in the 1980s, PP sold for $0.25/lb ($560/t). Prices of mica and other extender minerals have not grown at a similar same rate. The trend for mica is towards drastic price increases.
Use of mica in plastics is growing faster in Asia, due to the rapid (10-12 percent) growth rate. China is now the world's largest producer of automobiles. *
Ammonia was produced by 13 companies at 28 plants in 15 states during 2013. About 60 percent of total U.S. ammonia production capacity was centered in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas because of those states' large reserves of natural gas, representing the dominant domestic feedstock. In 2013, U.S. producers operated at about 80 percent of their rated capacity (excluding plants that were idle for the entire year). Four companies - CF Industries Holdings Inc.; Koch Nitrogen Co.; PCS Nitrogen Inc.; and Agrium Inc., in descending order - accounted for 75 percent of the total U.S. ammonia production capacity.
U.S. production was estimated to be 8.7 Mt (9.6 million st) of nitrogen (N) content in 2013, compared with 8.73 Mt (9.62 million st) of N content in 2012. Apparent consumption was estimated to have decreased by 2 percent, to 13.5 Mt (14.9 million st) from 13.9 Mt (15.3 million st) of N in 2012.The United States was the world's fourth-ranked ammonia producer, following China, India and Russia. It was also the world's second-ranked consumer, following China. Urea, ammonium nitrate, ammonium phosphates, nitric acid and ammonium sulfate were the major derivatives of ammonia in the United States, in descending order of importance.
Approximately 84 percent of apparent domestic ammonia consumption was for fertilizer use, including anhydrous ammonia for direct application, urea, ammonium nitrates, ammonium phosphates and other nitrogen compounds. Ammonia also was used to produce plastics, synthetic fibers and resins, explosives and numerous other chemical compounds. Imports of ammonia of N content decreased by 4 percent, from 5.2 Mt (5.7 million st) in 2012 to 5 Mt (5.5 million st) in 2013. Trinidad and Tobago (57 percent), Canada (20 percent), Ukraine (8 percent) and Russia (7 percent) were the leading sources of U.S. ammonia imports.
U.S. ammonia exports increased sixfold to 196 kt (216,000 st) of N from 2012 to 2013. Ammonia exports were primarily shipped to Canada and Morocco (24 percent each), Chile (11 percent), Ireland (9 percent) and Israel (6 percent).
U.S. Gulf Coast ammonia prices in 2013 averaged $540/t ($490/st), about 7 percent lower than the average in 2012. The Gulf Coast ammonia price was $685/t ($621/st)at the beginning of 2013 and decreased to $450/t ($408/st) by yearend.
Natural gas is often used as the feedstock to produce nitrogen fertilizers. The cost of natural gas can account for 70 to 90 percent of the production costs. The Henry Hub spot natural gas price ranged between $3.10 and $4.40/ million Btu for most of the year, with an average of $3.73 per million Btu. Natural gas prices in 2013 were relatively stable. Slightly higher prices were a result of increased demand for natural gas due to high temperatures and associated increased demand for power generation. The U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, projected that Henry Hub natural gas spot prices would average $4.17/million Btu in 2014.
A long period of stable and low natural gas prices in the United States has made it economical for companies to upgrade existing plants and plan for the construction of new nitrogen projects. During the next four years, it is expected that about 3.1 Mt (3.4 million st) of annual production capacity will be added in the United States. Several companies outside of the United States announced plans to build new ammonia plants in Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Indonesia. Nigeria, Russia and Saudi Arabia, which would add about 4.7 Mt (5.2 million st) of annual global production capacity within the next two to four years.
According to 10-year projections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), projected plantings for the eight major field crops (barley, corn, oats, rice, sorghum, soybeans, upland cotton and wheat) in the United States were expected to decrease slightly in the next few years. Corn production accounts for about half of the U.S. fertilizer use, and planting fewer crops affects the demand for fertilizers. During the last years of the 10-year projection period, plantings would remain near 98 Mha compared with 104 Mha in 2012.
Increased cropland availability (resulting from the reduction in the allowable acreage enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program), demand and sustained high commodity prices were expected to keep projected U.S. cropland use at the same level. Corn, soybeans, and wheat were expected to account for about 89 percent of acreage utilization for the eight major field crops.
Overall com acreage in the United States was expected to remain high due in part to continued U.S. ethanol production and U.S. corn exports in response to a strong global demand for feed grains. Corn acreage utilization was expected to increase in many states in the 2014 crop year because of anticipated higher selling prices and expectations of better net returns from corn compared to other commodities. I
In 2013, domestic production of peat, excluding Alaska, was estimated to be 480 kt (529,000 st), compared with 488 kt (538,000 st) in 2012. In 2013, imports increased to 915 kt (1.008 million st) compared with 911 kt (1.004 million st) in 2012, and exports decreased to 40 kt (44,000 st) in 2013. U.S. apparent consumption for 2013 increased by 11 percent compared with that of 2012. World production was estimated to be about 25 Mt (27.5 million st) in 2013, which was slightly greater than that of 2012.
Peat is a natural organic material of botanical origin. Peatlands are situated predominately in shallow wetland areas of the Northern Hemisphere. Commercial deposits are formed from the incomplete decomposition of plant matter under anaerobic conditions and a gradual accumulation of peat over about a 5,000-year period. In 2013, peat was harvested in 12 states, with Florida and Minnesota accounting for about 85 percent of total U.S. production. Reedsedge was the dominant variety of peat harvested in the United States, comprising almost 78 percent of the output, followed by sphagnum moss.
At least 60 percent of all peat used in the United States was imported from Canada, which has extensive deposits of high-quality sphagnum peat. Deposits of sphagnum peat in the United States occur in the northern states, with active operations in Alaska, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Pennsylvania and Washington. Because of its more fibrous composition, sphagnum peat is preferred for custom soil mixes and for sale to retail consumers. Sphagnum peat also is used as a filtration medium and as an absorbent. Other decomposed types of peat, such as reed-sedge or humus, are used primarily in bulk by commercial landscapers and on golf courses.
General soil improvement and potting soil mixes were the leading domestic end-use categories, accounting for about 90 percent of domestic peat sales, according to the annual U.S. Geological Survey canvass of producers. Data for the end-use distribution of peat imported from Canada were unavailable, but the imported peat was sold in bulk for soil blending and packaged for direct horticultural use. Packaged peat, regardless of origin, commanded a higher price than bulk sales.
The number of peat producers in the United States has stabilized after falling gradually in the 1990s, when more stringent federal, state and local wetland protection regulations were enacted. The permitting procedures for new peat operations have become increasingly time-consuming and expensive, causing some companies to abandon harvesting and reducing the number of new fens and bogs brought into production. In addition, extensive areas of peatlands are located in protected wetlands, parks or other natural areas that restrict commercial development.
Peatlands also are used for agriculture, forestry, recreation and wildlife management. Factors such as the growing interest in gardening, golf course development and landscaping related to residential use indicate that peat usage should remain near current levels for the next several years. However, U.S. producers face increasing competition from imports of peat from Canada and alternative soil amendments, such as composted organic waste, coir (coconut fiber), and wood byproducts (wood fiber and composted bark). The availability of alternative soil amendments instead of peat will determine the future use of peat in different parts of the world.
Peatlands have been identified as carbon sinks, storing more carbon per hectare than any other ecosystem. Preservation and restoration of peatlands may become a high priority in the efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, further restricting its availability for commercial use in future years. Peatland restoration is growing in importance in Europe and North America.
The number of peat producers in the United States has stabilized after falling gradually in the 1990s, when more stringent federal, state and local wetland protection regulations were enacted. The permitting procedures for new peat operations have become increasingly timeconsuming and expensive,
Domestic consumption and production and imports of crude processed perlite in the United States were estimated to have decreased in 2013, compared with 2012. Imports of perlite were down by 11 percent and domestic production decreased by 5 percent, compared with 2012. This resulted in a decrease in consumption of about 36 kt (39.700 st).
The estimated amount of processed perlite sold or used from U.S. mines in 2013 fell to 376 kt (414.400 st) from the downwardly revised total of 396 kt (436.500 st) sold or used in 2012. U.S. consumption of crude processed perlite decreased for the second straight year from the recent high of 577 kt (636,000 st) in 2011 (Table 1). The annual consumption figure for 2013 is estimated to be 472 kt (520,300 st), slightly more than the recent low year of 2009 when only 468 kt (515.900 st) were consumed in the United States.
Crude perlite ore was processed in the United States from eight mines operated by six companies in five western states in 2013. New Mexico continued to be the major producing state. Perlite also was mined for consumption in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. Prices for crude processed perlite were estimated to have increased to $56/t ($51/st) in 2013. compared with $52/t ($47/st) in 2012.
Exports, mainly to Canada, were estimated to have been about 38 kt (41,900 st) in 2013, unchanged from 2012. Imports decreased to 134 kt (147,700 st) in 2013, compared with imports of 150 kt (165,300 st) in 2012. The Greek mining company, S&B Industrial Minerals S.A., continued to export crude processed perlite to the United States. Imported perlite most often arrives through the ports of Brunswick. GA; Mobile. AL; Philadelphia. PA and Wilmington. DE. After arriving at one of these ports, the perlite is shipped for further processing and expansion at plants east of the Mississippi River.
Processed ore was expanded by 26 companies at 48 plants in 27 states. However, the number of plants that expand perlite has dropped considerably during the recent recessionary period from 61 in 2006. Not all of the closed plants were permanently shuttered, and some may reopen with an improved economy and with rising demand. In 2013. the leading seven companies produced about 80 percent of the total. The principal end uses for expanded perlite were building construction products, 53 percent: fillers, 15 percent; horticultural aggregate, 14 percent; filter aid, 10 percent and other, including unspecified, 8 percent.
The average unit value of expanded perlite in 2013 was around $310/t ($281/st). Expanded perlite values ranged from about $183/t ($166/st) for perlite used in products such as ceiling tiles and formed insulation to about $575/t ($521/st) for low-temperature insulation. These unit values are not necessarily the same as prices, because the majority of perlite is expanded and consumed through an integrated process. Therefore, expanded perlite is sold not in a raw form, but as a component of a finished product.
Although production levels of perlite in several countries are not widely reported, approximately two-thirds of global production of perlite is thought to be concentrated in China. Greece and the United States. The remaining production comes from 21 other countries. Estimated and reported crude processed perlite production from 15 countries included in U.S. Geological Survey reports was about 3 Mt (3.3 million st). This total does not include China or the six other countries for which production information is unavailable. Total worldwide production of perlite may have been as high as 5 Mt (5.5 million st), but due to discrepancies in reporting and variations in definitions (consumed, mined, produced, sold, etc.), the exact amount was not known.
Perlite consumption is closely related to construction activity, and therefore, sustained low levels of construction activity can result in lower perlite consumption. Although preliminary data indicated that perlite consumption decreased by 7 percent in 2013. the decrease in the most applicable construction segments (commercial, education, health care, lodging and office) decreased only slightly in 2013 compared with 2012, according to the U.S Bureau of the Census.
Expanded perlite production costs are closely related to energy costs, and increased fuel costs lead to expanded perlite price increases. Increased prices could lead to some reduction in perlite consumption, as consumers consider scaling back perlite use or using alternative lightweight materials if such materials are found to function satisfactorily in traditional perlite markets. However, no other lightweight materials have the brilliant white color of perlite, and this property helps to maintain perlite's dominance in its primary markets.
U.S. marketable phosphate rock production for the 2013 crop year (July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013) showed an increase to 32.5 Mt (35.8 million st) (at 63.5 percent bone phosphate of lime [BPL]) from the 2012 crop year of 28.8 Mt (31.7 million st) (at 63.1 percent BPL), as reported to the U.S. Department of the Interior by the mining companies operating in the United States during crop year 2013. Average phosphate rock prices continued to slightly increase in the 2013 crop year. Domestic consumption increased slightly in the 2013 crop year to 28.8 Mt (31.7 million st), as compared to the 28.2 Mt (31 million st) consumed in crop year 2012. U.S. imports of phosphate rock decreased to 2.09 Mt (2.3 million st) for the 2013 crop year, down from the 3.16 Mt (3.48 million st) for crop year 2012. Imports of phosphate rock were from Peru and Morocco. There was a 2.59Mt (2.85-million st) increase in producers' stocks from 5.6 Mt to 8.2 Mt (6.2 to 9 million st) (Table 1).
As in previous calendar years, Florida and North Carolina accounted for more than 85 percent of the total U.S. production, with the balance being produced in Idaho and Utah. U.S. production of 31.2 Mt (34.4 million st), which was produced by six companies at 11 mines in four states, accounted for about 13.9 percent of the world production of 224 Mt (247 million st) for calendar year 2013 (Table 2).
Calendar year 2013 U.S. phosphate production increased by 1.1 Mt (1.2 million st). However, companies added to stocks of phosphate rock by 1.88 Mt (2.1 million st). Late in calendar year 2013, sales of phosphate products were reported to be weaker than earlier in the year.
In calendar year 2013, China was estimated to have produced 97 Mt (107 million st), which is an increase from the 95.3 Mt (105 million st) produced in calendar year 2012. Morocco has been steady at 28 Mt (31 million st). In calendar year 2013, U.S. phosphate rock production increased to 31.2 Mt (34.4 million st). This was 13.93 percent of the world production (Fig. 1).
There were no reported U.S. exports of phosphate rock in crop year 2013, nor have there been any reported exports of phosphate rock since crop year 2004. U.S. producers continue to prefer to export the higher value fertilizer products, such as monoammonium (MAP) and diammonium phosphates (DAP), in preference to phosphate rock.
Importation of phosphate rock in crop year 2013 is estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at 2.1 Mt (2.3 million st). Imports were from Morocco and Peru. Import/export reporting information is limited to protect the proprietary rights of the single buyers and sellers.
The manufacturing of fertilizers and the production of animal feed supplements account for more than 95 percent of phosphate rock consumption. The rest of the production was used to produce elemental phosphorus, defluorinated phosphate rock or was used for direct application to the soil. Major fertilizers include DAP, MAP and triple super phosphate (TSP). The balance is used in a variety of products, such as vitamins, pharmaceuticals, soft drinks, toothpaste, flame retardants, glass, photographic film and other consumer goods. The United States is the leading supplier of processed phosphates in the world. Continued growth of world population and the need for dependable food supplies underscores the need for phosphate fertilizers.
There is no natural or synthetic substitute for phosphorous, which is essential for life in all growing things - plants and animals. There currently is no economical alternative to phosphate rock as the major source of phosphorous.
The average value of phosphate rock produced at the mines in crop year 2013 increased slightly over the 2012 crop year prices. The 2013 crop year average price of $98.93/t ($89.75/st) is 0.6 percent higher than the average crop year 2012 price of $98.36/t ($89.23/st) (Table 3). As the economy tried to stabilize from the worldwide recession, phosphate/ fertilizer prices first began to recover, stabilize, flatten and, in calendar year 2013, began to fall. The 2012 calendar year average price of phosphate at the mine was $102.54/t ($93.02/st). The 2013 calendar year average price was reported at $94.10/t ($85.36/st), which is 8.2 percent less than in calendar year 2012.
Morocco phosphate rock (70 percent BPL) prices peaked in January 2012 at $202.50/t ($183.70/st). By the end of the 2012 crop year, Moroccan prices had dropped to $175/t ($159/st). Prices for the 2013 crop year began to climb, peaking at $ 185/t ($168/st) in the SeptemberDecember 2013 time period, and dropping to less than $165/t ($150/st) in June 2013.
Prices continued to fall and at the end of calendar year 2013, Moroccan phosphate rock prices were at a low of $101/t ($91/st). Prices have shown a slight increase to $108/t ($98/st) in March 2014. The change in phosphate rock prices parallels the changes in DAP and TSP prices.
One U.S. phosphate rock producer has acquired the phosphate assets of the only other remaining phosphate producer in the Central Florida Phosphate District. This leaves only two phosphate rock producers in Florida, one in the Central District one in the North District. The 1966 Minerals Year Book reported that there were 21 mines operated by 11 companies mining in the "land-pebble" phosphate deposits, and four mines were operating in the "softrock" phosphate area.
A new underground mine is currently under development in southeastern Idaho. The new Idaho mine is expected to begin production in 2015.
The Bayovar Mine in northern Peru has increased production from 3.3 Mt (3.6 million st) in 2012 to 3.9 Mt (4.3 million st) in 2013 as a result of additional expansion plans that were announced in 2012. This is ahead of the previous forecast of 3.7 Mt (4.1 million st) for 2014. Many others have announced plans to investigate opening mining operations in northern Peru.
The world capacity to produce phosphate rock is expected to continue to increase as a result of other phosphate mine expansion projects. Active exploration and feasibility studies of the potential for development of phosphate deposits worldwide are ongoing in Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Congo-Brazzaville, Kazakhstan, Namibia, Russia, Togo and Tunisia.
In crop year 2013 and calendar year 2013, U.S. phosphate production had recovered from the recession of 2008. However, softening of prices and declining prices were experienced, with stable or declining demand for fertilizer products at the end of calendar year 2013. But there does appear to be the beginning of a recovery in 2014, with increasing prices for phosphate and fertilizer chemicals (Fig. 3).
About 16,188 ha (40,000 acres) of Florida land remain in various stages of permitting as replacement for existing mine sites, which are approaching reserve exhaustion, or as extensions to existing mine sites. The only remaining phosphate mining company in central Florida is attempting to obtain permits for two mining operations in the southern portion of the Florida phosphate district.
In Idaho, three phosphate mines are proposing expansions. One company received approval to expand its mine, and two other companies are developing new mines to replace existing mines that are near depletion. These newly proposed mines and new mining areas are intended as replacement mines or to extend the life of existing operations and are not expected to significantly increase production levels.
The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, at the urging of local environmental groups and coastal counties in southwest Florida, announced in August 2010 that it would conduct an area-wide environmental impact statement (EIS) on the impacts of phosphate mining within the Central Florida Phosphate District. The final area wide EIS was available at the end of May 2013.
The worldwide demand for phosphate fertilizers is expected to increase gradually in proportion to the increase in world population. The phosphate industry appears to have generally recovered from the worldwide downturn that began in 2008-2009. However, in 2012 and 2013, the rate of recovery slowed and prices dropped in the fourth quarter of 2013. The USGS predicts worldwide phosphate production will increase to 260 Mt (286 million st) by 2017.
The new mines that opened in northern Peru and Saudi Arabia during calendar year 2010 announced expansion plans in 2011. The expansion plans for both of these mines are planned to come onstream between 2014 and 2016.
In the near future Algeria, Brazil, China, Israel, Jordan, Syria and Tunisia are expected to expand existing operations. New mines are proposed for development in Australia, West Africa, Kazakhstan, Namibia and Russia. Several large deposits in Canada are being investigated and evaluated for development.
Continued depletion of high-yield deposits of ore in Florida and the environmental restrictions being placed on U.S. facilities will result in stable or decreasing production capacity from existing and proposed facilities and will limit the U.S. production. U.S. production is expected to gradually decline as a percentage of total world production, as reserves are depleted and China and other countries continue to increase production as a result of the increased global competition in the fertilizer industry. As a result, domestic phosphoric acid production is also expected to slowly decline as a percentage of world production capacity. *
In 2013, world potash production, consumption, and sales increased from those of 2012. In 2013, U.S. production was estimated to have increased to 1 Mt (1.1 million st) potassium oxide (K^O) from 900 kt (992,000 st) KjO in 2012. World production was estimated to have increased to 34.6 Mt (38.1 million st) IC.O in 2013 from 32.7 Mt (36 million st) K,0 in 2012. Canada continued to lead the world in potash production. Russia, Belarus, China and Germany were other leading producers, by order of output. The United States ranked ninth in world production.
The majority of domestic potash was produced near Carlsbad, NM, with most of the potash coming from the mineral sylvite. Potash encompasses a variety of mined and manufactured salts, all of which contain the element potassium in water-soluble form. The term potash, however, also can refer specifically to potassic fertilizers, which are potassium chloride [(KC1) or the mineral sylvite], potassium sulfate [(K,S04) or sulfate of potash (SOP), usually a manufactured product], and potassiummagnesium sulfate [(K,S04*2MgS04) or langbeinite or double sulfate of potash magnesia (SOPM or K-Mag)].
Muriate of potash (MOP) for fertilizer use is an agriculturally acceptable mix of KC1 (95 percent pure or greater) and sodium chloride (halite) that includes minor amounts of other nontoxic minerals from the mined ore and is neither the crude ore sylvinite nor pure sylvite. Because the potassium content of its common salts varies, the potash industry has established a common standard of measurement for defining a product's potassium content (or purity) related to the approximate K,0.
Because it is a source of soluble potassium, about 90 percent of potash consumed globally is used as fertilizer (plant nutrient). Potassium is one of the three primary nutrients required for plant growth and maturation; the others are fixed nitrogen and soluble phosphorus. The remaining 10 percent is used to produce potassium chemicals, which are used in such applications as aluminum recycling, animal feed supplements, oil-well drilling mud, snow and ice melting, soap manufacturing, steel heat-treating and water softening.
Most potash is extracted by conventional underground mining methods. Solution mining is used when underground deposits are irregular and (or) very deep. Another production method involves the evaporation of brines in shallow salt lakes, followed by the harvesting of potassium minerals.
In August 2013, OJSC Uralkali, the leading Russian potash producer, dissolved its marketing partnership with JSC Belaruskali, the sole producer in Belarus. Potash trade in the second half of the year was affected by uncertainty about prices. This was because of the breakup of the Belaruskali and Uralkali partnership and weaker sales of potash to Indian farmers due to depreciation of the rupee versus the U.S. dollar.
North America is the leading potash-producing region in the world, with 38 percent of global capacity, the majority of which is located in Canada. According to company reports, all three major Canadian producers, Agrium Inc., Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. (PotashCorp), and The Mosaic Co., planned to expand production capacity during the next five years. PotashCorp, the leading producer, planned to complete construction of a new mine and expanded mill in New Brunswick and a new mine and milling operation at the Rocanville Mine in Saskatchewan in 2015. Upon completion of these projects, the company's production capacity would increase to 16.8 Mt/a (18.5 million stpy) of MOP in 2017 from 14.2 Mt/a (16.5 million stpy) of MOP in 2013.
Mosaic closed its 150-kt/a (165,000-stpy) MOP solution mine in Hersey, MI, in November 2013. In Saskatchewan, Mosaic completed expansion projects at its Belle Plain and Esterhazy mines in 2013. The company also planned to complete an expansion to its Colonsay Mine in 2014. The company's production capacity would increase from 11.4 Mt/a (12.5 million stpy) at the end of 2013 to 11.9 Mt/a (13.1 million stpy) MOP in 2014. Agrium continued work on increasing capacity at its Vanscoy Mine in Saskatchewan by 1 Mt/a (1.1 million stpy) by 2015.
In Saskatchewan, several larger potash properties were in various stages of development in 2013. BHP Billiton holds exploration rights to about 14.500 km(5.600 sq miles), which includes five potash properties.The company's Jansen project was the closest to commercial production, but completion of the project was delayed because of adverse market conditions. The 2-Mt/a (2.2-million stpy) mine was scheduled to be completed by 2017, but production would not begin until after 2018. K+S Aktiengesellschaft continued construction of a 2.86-Mt/a (3.15-million stpy) solution mine in 2013. The company planned to develop the mine in two phases, with 2 Mt/a (2.2 million stpy) of capacity starting in 2016 and an additional 860 kt/a (948.000 stpy) after 2018.
In 2013, Intrepid Potash Inc. completed construction of the solar evaporation ponds and a 250-kt/a (275,000stpy) processing plant at its new HB Mine in New Mexico. The mine was converted from an underground mine to a solution mine. Late in the year. Intrepid began harvesting potash from the new solar evaporation ponds. The company planned to reach full production at the HB Mine of 150 to 200 kt/a (165,000 to 220,000 stpy) in 2015.
A new underground potash mine was being developed in southeastern New Mexico. IC Potash Corp. (Canada) planned to produce only SOP and SOPM. Initial production was expected to begin in 2016, with production of 568 kt/a (626,000 stpy) of SOP and 275 kt/a (303,000 st) of SOPM.
In the first quarter of 2013, Vale Fertilizantes S.A. of Brazil suspended its Potasio Rio Colorado solution mining project in Argentina.The company cited economic conditions and government regulation in Argentina as factors for suspending the project.
Expansion projects outside of North America that would increase world KjO capacity by about 2 percent by 2014 were planned to be completed in Belarus, China, Russia and Uzbekistan. Other significant projects that were planned to be completed after 2017 outside of North America included new mines in Brazil, China, Congo (Brazzaville), Eritrea, Ethiopia. Russia, Turkmenistan and the United Kingdom.
According to a December 2013 report from the International Fertilizer Industry Association, world consumption of all forms of potash in 2013 was between 32 and 33 Mt (35 and 36 million st) IÇO. Global potash consumption was projected to increase by more than 3 percent in 2014 based on projected world increases in fruit, grain, oilseed and vegetable production. In 2014, world potash production is forecast to increase slightly from 34.6 Mt (38.1 million st) K,0 in 2013. *
Production of pumice in the United States during 2013 was estimated to be 400 kt (440,000 st), a slight increase compared with 2012. The unit value of pumice varied widely by end use in 2013. Pumice used as an abrasive was priced at $17/t ($15.40/st), but specialtygrade pumice, used in cosmetics, filtration or precision grinding, could be priced as high as $223/t ($202/st on a spot basis). Twelve companies operated 12 mines in Arizona, California, Idaho, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Oregon. U.S. pumice exports totaled about 13 kt (14,300 st). Imports were higher at 34 kt (375,000 st).
Pumice is an extrusive igneous volcanic rock formed through the cooling of air-pocketed lava, which results in a highly porous, low-density rock. The low density allows some pumice to float on water. Large pumice rafts, consisting, in some instances, of thousands of individual pieces of pumice clumped together, are a unique geologic phenomenon and have been documented to be as long as 30 km (19 miles) and to have drifted for several years in oceanic waters.
Pumicite is defined as grains, flakes, threads and/ or shards of volcanic glass finer than 4 mm (0.1 in.) in diameter. Pumicite and volcanic ash are descriptive terms that are often interchangeably used.
The porous, lightweight properties of pumice are well suited for its main use as an aggregate in lightweight building blocks and assorted building products. In 2013, other major applications included abrasives and horticulture (including landscaping). Minor applications include the use of pumice as an absorbent, as a concrete aggregate and admixture, as a filter aid and as a traction enhancer for tires. A small percentage of pumice was used in abrasive-type products, including pencil erasers, polishing agents for circuit boards and television monitors, tooth-filing mechanisms for chinchillas, exfoliates in cosmetics and a variety of heavy-duty hand cleaners. Imports were primarily used as raw material for building block (cinderblock) and other lightweight aggregate applications. Pumice deposits are usually mined as openpit operations. If necessary, the mined crude ore is dried and crushed.
World resources of pumice are adequate for the foreseeable future. However, transportation costs may encourage development of sources of material closer to markets.
Total world production of pumice was approximately 17 Mt (19 million st) in 2013. The United States was estimated to be the ninth ranked producer of pumice in 2013. The top world producers in 2013, in order of production, were Turkey (5.5 Mt or 6.1 million st), Italy (3 Mt or 3.3 million st) and Greece (1.5 Mt or 1.3 million st).
Several substitutes exist for pumice in agriculture, in horticulture, as an aggregate, as a concrete additive and in other end products. *
Global mine production of rare earths increased slightly in 2013 relative to that in 2012 (Fig. 1). China (100 kt or 110,000 st) remained the dominant producer of rare earths. Although production capacity outside of China increased, nearly all mine production of heavy rare earths was based in China. Mine production outside of China was tempered by delays in the rampup of newly commissioned separation facilities.
Lynas Corp.'s Australian mine and concentration plant entered another year of operation, but production was limited. At yearend, 15.4 kt (16,900 st) of concentrate containing 5.89 kt (6,500 st) of rare- earth oxides (REO) were ready to be exported from Australia to Malaysia for processing. In Malaysia, Lynas was commissioning its REO separation operations. In 2013, the Malaysian operation produced more than 1.1 kt (1,200 st) of REO equivalent product. At yearend, construction to increase REO separation capacity to 22 kt/a (24,000 st) from 11 kt/a (12,000 st) was reported to be complete.
China maintained its restriction on REO production. China's first and second batches of production quotas for 2013 totaled 93.3 kt (102,800 st). Although the production quota was not made public in 2012, the quota for 2013 was a slight decrease from the 2011 quota of 93.8 kt (103,400 st). The 2013 quota was divided into 75.9 kt (83,600 st) of light REO and 17.4 kt (19,180 st) of heavy REO. Although the light REO production quota decreased 6 percent in 2013, the heavy REO production quota increased 29 percent, compared with 2011. Baotou Steel Rare-Earth Group Hi-Tech Co., Ltd. and China Minmetals Corp. temporarily suspended REO production in the fourth quarter of 2013 due to market conditions.
Loparite mineral concentrates were produced at the Lovozersky mining operation in the Kola Peninsula, Russia and shipped to the Solikamsk Magnesium Works. Rare-earth-bearing residues from Solikamsk were exported for recovery of rare earths. In 2013, REO production from loparite was estimated to be 1.5 to 2.5 kt (1,650 to 2,750 st).The Lovozersky operation has a capacity to produce an estimated 3.7 kt/a (4,000 stpy) of REO contained in mineral concentrates.
In the United States, Molycorp Inc. is commissioning and expects new processing operations to reach a production capacity of 23 kt/a 25.300 stpy) in 2014. In mid-2013, the company reported that it had demonstrated 15 kt/a( 1,650 stpy) of REO capacity. In 2013, the company was commissioning its chloralkali plant that was designed to recycle waste water from its separation operations and recover hydrochloric acid and caustic soda.
Sluggish economic conditions and improved material efficiencies resulted in decreased consumption of REO in 2013 compared to 2012. According to estimates published by the Industrial Minerals Company of Australia Pty Ltd. (IMCOA), global demand for REO was estimated to be led by magnets (20 percent), catalysts (18 percent), polishing (16 percent) and metal alloys (19 percent). In the United States, based on imports of rare-earth materials, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimated distribution of REO by end use, in decreasing order, was catalysts, 62 percent; metallurgical applications and alloys, 13 percent; glass polishing and ceramics, 9 percent; permanent magnets, 7 percent; phosphors, 3 percent and other, 6 percent.
Prices for most rare-earth products declined significantly in 2013. In the light-rare-earth market, recycling and substitution efforts in catalysts and polishing markets contributed to a significant decrease in prices for lanthanum and cerium products.
In permanent magnet applications, the average price for dysprosium, neodymium and samarium oxides (minimum 99 percent purity, free-on-board China), decreased by 24 percent, 13 percent and 60 percent, respectively. Despite the declines in prices for most rare earths, prices for praseodymium products used in magnet applications increased. The increase in praseodymium prices was attributed, in part, to low inventories and the decision by producers to produce didymium (a mixed oxide of neodymium and praseodymium).
Price declines in heavy-rare-earth products were generally not as severe as light-rare-earth products. Weak demand for rare-earth phosphors contributed to decreased prices for europium (-37 percent), terbium (-34 percent) and yttrium (-39 percent) oxides compared with 2012. Prices for gadolinium products used in scintillators and medical contrast agents were unchanged.
China continued to dominate the global supply of rare-earth materials. Citing domestic needs and environmental concerns. China continued efforts to restrict the supply of REO. However, export quotas were nearly unchanged compared with quotas in 2012.
China's total export quota for 2013 was 30,999 t (34,170 st), with 15.499 t (17,084 st) allocated in the first batch and 15,500 t (17,085 st) allocated in the second batch. In 2013, the total export quota allocated to Chinese-owned companies with non Chinese joint venture partners was 8,691 1 (9,580 st). On an individual company basis, the largest allocations were set aside for Baotou Rhodia Rare Earth Co. (1,196 t or 1,318 st)), Grirem Advanced Materials Co. (1,171 t or 1,290 st), China Nonferrous Import-Export Co.Jiangsu Branch (1,137 t or 1,253 st) and Gansu Rare Earth New Materials Co. ( 1,089 t or 1,200 st).
In December 2013, China'sMinistry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announced a first-batch, rare-earth export quota of 15,1101 (16,655 st) for 2014,down slightly from the first batch in 2013. MOFCOM specified quantities for light rare earth products 13,314 t or 14,675 st) and medium/heavy rare earth products (1,7961 pt 1"979 st). Included in the quota were Chinese-owned companies with non-Chinese joint venture partners (3,757 t or 4,141 st light rare-earth products and 597 t or 658 st medium/heavy rare-earth products).
From mid-August to mid-November 2013, Chinese authorities launched a campaign against illegal mining, processing and distribution of rare earths. During the campaign, 126 illegal enterprises were ordered to cease production, 161 enterprises had their business licenses revoked and 19 kt (21,000 st) of illegal rare-earth ore and products were detained.
At yearend 2013, the World Trade Organization had yet to formally release the results of its panel investigation regarding China's restraints on the export from China of various forms of rare earths, tungsten and molybdenum. However, a panel report is expected to be released sometime in 2014.
Indian Rare Earths Ltd. (IREL) is commissioning a processing plant that is expected to produce several thousand metric tons of REO derived from monazite produced at IREL's Orissa operations in Kerala, India. Construction of an REO separation plant is underway in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, with support from Japan'sToyota Tsusho Corp. IREL reportedly agreed to provide Toyota Tsusho with 6 kt/a (6,600 stpy) of REO.
Summit Atom Rare Earth Co. LLP (SARECO), a joint venture between the Sumitomo Corp. and Kazatomprom (Kazakhstan's government-owned National Atomic Co.) is commissioning a rare-earth processing plant in Stepnogorsk, Kazakhstan. The SARECO plant was expected to produce as much as 1.5 kt/a (1,650 st) of rare-earth carbonate from uranium-ore residue. The company plans to double capacity by 2017.
Global reserves of REO in 2013 were estimated to be 110 Mt (121 million st). Falling prices slowed the exploration and development of rare-earth projects in 2013. Resource and reserve assessments taking place in the United States included Bear Lodge, WY; Bokan, AK; Diamond Creek, ID; Elk Creek, NE; La Paz, AZ; Lemhi Pass, ID-MT; Pea Ridge, MO; Round Top, TX and Thor, NV. Additional assessments are underway in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, Greenland, India, North Korea, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Sweden,Tanzania,Turkey and Vietnam.
In 2013, the Departamento Nacional de Produçâo Mineral Brazilian increased its estimate of Brazilian reserves to 22 Mt (24 million st) of contained REO from 40 kt (44,000 st) of contained REO. Companies that hold Brazilian reserves included Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineraçâo (14 Mt or 15.4 million st) and Minas Gerais State-owned Companhia de Económico Minas Gerais (8 Mt or 8.8 million st). *
Salt remains the most cost-effective material for maintaining full mobility on roads and highways and to prevent accidents during the winter snow season. It is also the most useful component for regenerating the ion exchange resins used for water conditioning. It is critical in the production of animal feed products and the most ubiquitous ingredient used in the food industry.
Since 2005, China has been the world's largest salt producer with 2013 production estimated to be 71 Mt (78 million st) by the U.S. Geological Survey. U.S. salt production (including brine directly captured for the chemical industry) was estimated to 40 Mt (44 million st). Combined, both countries accounted for about 42 percent of total world production.
The production and sales of salt in the United States differs significantly from year to year as a result of fluctuations in the weather, since the primary market for nonbrine salt is for highway deicing. Other salt markets are steady and consistent. Most of the production in the salt industry is "dry" salt because U.S. chemical manufacturers commonly control their own captive brine sources.
Total U.S. salt sales amounted to 40.1 Mt (44.2 million st) in 2013, an increase of 2.9 Mt (3.2 million st) from 2012. This was due to the increased winter weather activity and increased highway salt requirements. Water conditioning and food-grade salt sales remain stable.
On a global scale, total world production of salt was 264 Mt (291 million st) in 2013, an increase in 5 Mt (5.5 million st, or 8 percent) from 2012. Much of this increase in production occurred in the United States, while the rest was spread out over a few other countries. U.S. salt is produced by four methods:
* Salt in brine produced by solution mining represents about 46 percent of the U.S. salt production. It is used mostly by the chemical industry (primarily chlorine and caustic soda).
* Rock salt is mined from underground salt deposits and is about 36 percent of all salt produced in the United States. The major use of rock salt is highway deicing.
* About 11 percent of U.S. salt is produced as vacuum pan evaporated, or food grade salt, through recrystallization of salt from brine. These production sites are generally associated with captive-solution caverns to produce the brine.
* The remaining 7 percent of salt production in the United States is solar salt. It is made by staged evaporation of the water from saltwater in solar ponds.
The United States imported 11.3 Mt (12.4 million st) of salt in 2013, down from 9.9 Mt (10.9 million st) in 2012. From 2009-2012, the chief sources for imported salt were Canada, 38 percent; Chile, 37 percent; Mexico, 10 percent; Bahamas, 5 percent and all others, 10 percent.
U.S. salt exports decreased from 809 kt (892,000 st) in 2012 to 546 kt (602,000 st) in 2013. The reported U.S. consumption figures increased to 45 Mt (49.6 million st) in 2013 from 36.9 Mt (40.6 million st) in 2012.
In North America, the biggest factor affecting salt price and availability is the severity of the winter season. Salt is the most commonly used agent for deicing and anti-icing to combat snow and ice buildup on roadways. Winter conditions were heavy in 2012 and resulted in higher recorded amounts by February 2013. The demand for the winter of 2013-2014 is projected to be significantly higher.
The environment continues to be an issue in the salt industry. Research has shown the Sensible Salting approach, pioneered and long advocated by the Salt Institute, is highly effective for all those communities that employ it. Studies conducted at the University of Waterloo demonstrated that,where best management practices based upon the Sensible Salting guidelines are employed, the chloride levels in discharge waters have diminished and will eventually result in reduction of chloride levels in associated ground waters. The Salt Institute has also supported studies on computerized modeling systems to control management of storm water discharges to minimize acute chloride runoff spikes.
The Salt Institute has expanded its Sensible Salting approach into a new Safe and Sustainable Snowfighter's Manual and Salt Storage Awards to ensure that the maintenance of high levels of service for safety and mobility is managed in a manner fully compatible with environmental concerns. It has also supported the development of online winter maintenance management systems that will help municipalities with fewer resources to efficiently manage this critical winter activity.
The issue of chloride toxicity has benefitted from new studies that will affect the market for water softening and other salt applications. Research has demonstrated that that chloride toxicity is significantly reduced in hard water; hard-water areas are where water softeners are employed to the greatest extent. This translates into more flexible chloride limits, particularly if site-specific species are employed. This combination of hardness-related toxicity and increased species testing may provide a more reliable scientific base for establishing chloride limits that will benefit everyone. Iowa has implemented site-specific chloride standards and other states are considering following Iowa's lead.
Research at Arizona State University has demonstrated the importance of complete scale removal from plumbing in minimizing the potential for microbial film development. Because traditional saltbased ion exchange water softening accomplishes this, compared to other water conditioning technologies that merely convert hardness minerals to an amorphous state, it is expected that salt sales associated with water softening will continue to be strong.
The impact of salt on health continues to be a controversial issue. A number of countries have active salt reduction initiatives in place. However, an Institute of Medicine study published in May 2013 contradicted a great many misconceptions. This study concluded that there was no compelling evidence to support the current proposals for reduced salt consumption and cautioned that the current recommendation of 1,500 mg sodium per day may place a significant portion of the population and greater risk of negative health outcomes. This report was consistent with the majority of peer-reviewed publications that have cautioned against population-wide salt reduction. This issue will continue to dominate the salt sector for the foreseeable future. *
The sillimanite minerals group includes the polymorphic mineral forms andalusite, kyanite and sillimanite. These aluminum-silicates share a common chemical composition, Al2SiOv but differ in their crystal structures and physical properties. The mineral mullite, A16SL,Oi3, is a closely related aluminum-silicate that occurs rarely in nature, but can be produced synthetically by heating aluminum-silicates to high temperatures or, alternatively, fusing certain combinations of aluminumand silica-enriched minerals.
The sillimanite minerals are most frequently found in peraluminous gneisses and schists in regional metamorphic terranes. Andalusite also occurs in homfels and other thermally altered pelitic rocks within contact metamorphic aureoles adjacent to intrusive rocks. In the United States, sillimanite minerals are known to occur in economically valuable deposits in California, Idaho, Nevada and New Mexico, as well as the Appalachian regions of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Potentially significant occurrences of kyanite and sillimanite are found in heavy mineral sand deposits in Florida. Elsewhere, significant deposits of the sillimanite minerals are mined in South Africa, India, France, Peru and China.
The sillimanite minerals are valued in the production of refractories and ceramic products due to their volumetric stability, high alumina content (>60 percent A1203) and high melting point (>1,100° C or >1,768° F). A key characteristic of each of these minerals is the specific expansion properties as the minerals are calcined at high temperatures, producing a mixture of mullite and silica glass. At decomposition temperatures ranging from about 1,350° C (2,462° F) for kyanite up to 1,550° C (2,822° F) for sillimanite, the percent volume expansion is predictable and irreversible.
Calcined kyanite will expand in volume by an amount that is dependent on initial particle size. Very fine particles (325 mesh) increase volumetrically by about 3 percent, while coarser particle fractions (35 mesh) increase by about 25 percent. Calcined andalusite and sillimanite expand in volume by about 6 percent and 4 percent, respectively. Below temperatures of decomposition, the minerals are characterized by relatively low coefficients of thermal expansion. The sillimanite minerals are, thus, valued as raw materials in counter balancing the shrinkage potential of clays and other component materials used in refractories and ceramics.
For 2013, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimated global production of sillimanite minerals to be about 440 kt (48,500 st), an 8-percent increase above the production reported in 2012 (USGS, 2014). This included 220 kt (242,500 st) of andalusite mined in South Africa, 97 kt (106,900 st) of kyanite and calcined kyanite from the United States, 65 kt (71,600 st) of andalusite produced in France, 50 kt (55,000 st) of combined kyanite and sillimanite from India and about 5 kt (5,500 st) of combined minerals from other countries. Other countries that produce sillimanite minerals and synthetic mullite include China, Australia, Peru and Brazil, but details of the annual output are not available.
In the United States, Kyanite Mining Corp. (KMC) operates surface mines and processing facilities at Willis Mountain, East Ridge and the Gieseke Plant located near Dillwyn, VA. Situated in the central Virginia Piedmont region, kyanite-bearing quartzites occur in the Ordovician-age Chopawamsic Formation, which is composed mainly of mafic and felsic volcanic arc-related metavolcanic and metasedimentary rocks. In 2013, KMC reported the production of about 97 kt (106,900 st) of combined kyanite and calcined kyanite, valued at about $33.5 million (Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy, 2014; USGS, 2014). Annual production capacity is reported to be about 143 kt (157,600 st) for commercial-grade kyanite concentrates, and about 33 kt (36,300 st) for calcined kyanite (KMC, 2013). KMC markets a range of milled products that are shipped by truck and rail to a variety of domestic and international customers. Exports currently account for nearly 48 percent of KMC's business.
In North Carolina, Piedmont Minerals Co. Inc. (a division of Resco Products Inc.) mines deposits of massive pyrophyllite, AlSi,05(OH), near Hillsborough that contains natural admixtures of andalusite, topaz and quartz. The mineralized areas were formed in structurally controlled, hydrothermally altered metavolcanic rocks of the Carolina slate belt. The deposits of high-purity silica and alumina provide the raw materials for refractory mineral products serving the foundry and ceramic industries (Resco Products, 2013).
The supply of andalusite to the global refractories market comes primarily from operations located in South Africa, France, India and China. DAMREC, a member of Imerys Group, was the global leader in andalusite production in 2013, with operations at four main locations. The Kerphalite Mine located in the Glomel region of France has been in operation since the 1960s. It recovers andalusite from weathered Ordovician-age schists proximal to granitic rocks of the Armorican Massif. Surface mining operations in the Transvaal region of the Republic of South Africa include the Annesley Mine near Burgersfort, the Havercroft Mine near Sekhukhuneland, the Krugerspost Mine at Lydenburg and the Rhino Mine near Thabazimbi (DMR, 2010). The South African deposits were formed in pelitic rocks of the Pretoria Group within the contact metamorphic aureole of the Bushveld Igneous Complex. DAMREC markets a variety of products under the trademarked names Durandal, Krugerite, Purusite and Randalusite (DAMREC, 2013). The company reports annual production capacity that exceeds 300 kt (330,000 st) of andalusite from all operations.
Also in South Africa, Andalusite Resources (Pty) Ltd produces a range of milled and run-of-mine products from the Maroeloesfontein mine operations located near Thabazimbi in Limpopo province. The deposit is situated on strike and to the southwest of Imerys'sRhino Mine. Andalusite Resources reports production capacity exceeding 70 kt/a (77,000 stpy), but has also indicated plans to expand to 80 to 100 kt/ (88,000 to 110,000 stpy). The company markets products under the trade name Marlusite, containing less than 0.3 percent contained impurities (Andalusite Resources, 2013).
The USGS estimated that more than 70 percent of refractories produced worldwide are consumed by the ironand steel-manufacturing industries, where high-temperature refractory linings are required for metallurgical furnaces and other high-performance heat treatment industrial applications.
Refractory products that use the sillimanite minerals as raw materials include monolithics, firebrick, mortars, kiln furniture and investment casting shell molds. In the steel and foundry industries, as well as other metallurgical and glass applications requiring extreme durability, temperature and corrosion resistance, mullite refractory is often used exclusively. Other important end products include porcelain and sanitary ware, electrical insulators, heating elements, ceramic tiles, brake shoes and spark plugs.
Due to limited data, availability and competitive market conditions, sales prices for the sillimanite minerals are regarded as estimates only. The average unit price for processed kyanite (55-60 percent A1203) sold in the United States in 2013 was estimated to be $310/t ($281/st), while the average price for calcined kyanite was about $450/t ($408/st) (USGS, 2014). Estimates of the average sales price for andalusite produced in South Africa (57-58 percent A1,0,, bulkFCA Mine-RSA) range from about $325 to $390/t ($295 to $354/st) in 2013. European andalusite prices (57-58 percent Al,Ov fob European port) were reported to range from about $485 to $590/t ($440 to $535/st) (Industrial Minerals, 2013).
Andalusite resources in Peru continue to garner new interest. Since 2009, Andalucita S.A. has recovered andalusite from alluvial sand and gravel deposits located near the port city of Paita in northern Peru. The company reported about 24 kt (26,500 st) of andalusite product exported in 2013. Latin Resources Ltd. has reported significant andalusite resources contained in similar heavy mineral sand deposits at its Guadalupito project, located near the port city of Chimbóte, northern Peru. The company is seeking joint venture partners to develop the deposit. Inferred resources are 1.3 Gt (1.4 billion st) of the combined primary minerals magnetite, andalusite, ilmenite, rutile, zircon, monazite, garnets and apatite.
In June 2013, a final settlement was reached in the legal dispute between shareholders of Disthene Group Inc., a family-owned company that controls Kyanite Mining Corp. The $105-million settlement included a payout to minority shareholders and, ultimately, resulted in no significant disruption of kyanite production in Virginia.
Market conditions for sillimanite minerals and the refractory industries they support were sluggish during the first three quarters of 2013, coupled with lingering recessionary concerns in North America and Europe. Conditions improved somewhat during the fourth quarter and market demand had become firmer by the end of the year.
As an important consumer of refractory products, the performance of the steel industry provides a reliable indicator of the geographic distribution of global market demand. For 2013, the World Steel Association reported global crude steel production of 1.61 Gt (1.77 billion st) produced in 65 countries. This represents an increase in steel output of about 3.5 percent above that reported for 2012 (World Steel Association, 2014).
Growth in the steel industry was fueled mainly by production in Asia, with China leading the way with 779 Mt (858 million st),an increase of about 7.5 percent from 2012. China's percent share of the global steel output increased to 48.5 percent from 46.7 percent in 2012, highlighting the importance of this market as a consumer of refractories.
Steel output in India, ranked fourth globally with 81.2 Mt (89.5 million st),also showed significant growth of 5.1 percent from 2012. The United States was ranked third behind Japan in global steel output, with 87 Mt (96 million st) in 2013. This output reflected a decrease of about 2 percent from 2012.
The demand for high quality raw and calcined sillimanite minerals is closely linked to the increasing demand for higher performance refractories with increased operational life spans. Industrial growth in Asia will continue to fuel the demand for steel refractories, and additional applications in ceramics, investment castings and abrasives are expected to result in stable price levels in 2014 and beyond. Major factors that will continue to affect production and pricing levels worldwide include energy costs of manufacturing and the costs of transportation.
Regarding the specific markets for andalusite, there has been much recent speculation regarding the potential of this commodity as a cheaper alternative to bauxite in many applications that rely on stable supplies of this raw material. In this regard, restrictive controls on the supply of bauxite for certain refractory applications may create new market opportunities for andalusite producers in the long term. *
Sodium carbonate, otherwise known as soda ash, is a key chemical for a diverse array of industrial end uses. More than 70 percent of the world demand for soda ash is used to produce flat glass, container glass and chemicals.
Soda ash can be produced naturally or synthetically. Natural soda ash is produced by mining and refining mineral trona or extracting soda ash brines from lakebeds. Naturally produced soda ash benefits from lower production costs, lower energy consumption and minimal environmental impact compared with synthetic production methods.
More than 80 percent of the known global resources for natural soda ash are located in the United States, particularly in the Green River basin in Wyoming. The balance is made up of smaller deposits that can be mined or extracted from lakebeds in Africa, Turkey and China. A majority of the soda ash produced outside of the United States is produced using the synthetic process, using salt and limestone. Plants using the synthetic production processes are more energy intensive and generate greater quantities of greenhouse gases than natural production.
Global soda ash demand in 2013 is estimated to be 55 Mt (60 million st), up about 2.5 percent from 2012. U.S. demand for soda ash in 2013 was 5 Mt (5.5 million st). Demand in the U.S. grew about 1 percent, while demand growth in China was about 3 percent. Throughout the past decade, China has become the largest consumer and producer of soda ash in the world.
In contrast to the slow growth in U.S. demand, U.S. production of soda ash in 2013 increased 2.8 percent to 11.5 Mt (12.7 million st). The increased production was supported by strong demand for U.S. natural soda ash in export markets. The U.S. soda ash industry exported 6.5 Mt (7.1 million st) in 2013, an increase of 5 percent from the prior year. The increased demand for natural soda ash in export markets is driven by the cost competitiveness of U.S. production globally, and the desire of global customers for long-term security of supply.
Global prices have increased during the last few years following the economic crisis in 2009. Prices have increased as global demand has increased to record levels and supply increases have not kept pace. Another significant contributing factor is the trend of increasing raw material and energy costs for producers of synthetic soda ash. particularly in China, Western Europe and Australia. Following a period of strong growth in 2011, the slower growth in China during 2012 and the first half of 2013 led to lower prices, with Chinese producers operating at a loss for much of 2013.
The ability to competitively supply global markets is important for U.S. producers. U.S. export pricing has followed the trends in overseas markets. U.S. domestic prices show much less volatility compared to most global regions, while the market follows global pricing trends over the longer term.
U.S. demand for soda ash is expected to grow by 4 percent in 2014, compared to 2013. This will be primarily due to increased demand from flat glass and chemicals segments, as a result of an uptick in the housing and automobile market. Demand for soda ash in rapidly developing economies is expected to continue to grow at a faster rate than markets in the U.S. and Western Europe. Overall, global soda ash demand is expected to grow about 5 percent annually during the next five years.
Natural soda ash producers in the United States are well positioned to participate in the global demand growth, as their low cost position allows them to maintain full plant utilization and profitability by serving markets outside of the United States. *
More than 80 percent of the known global resources for natural soda ash are located in the United States, particularly in the Green River basin in Wyoming.
In 2013, U.S. apparent consumption of strontium (contained in celestite and manufactured strontium compounds) increased to 28.9 kt (31,800 st) from 16.7 kt (18,500 st) in 2012. The increase in apparent consumption is the result of the doubling of imports of celestite from Mexico, most likely for use in natural gas and oil well drilling fluids. Gross weight of imports was 62.8 kt, (69.000 st) 91 percent of which originated in Mexico.
Total imports of strontium compounds and minerals in 2013 were about 12 percent less than those of 2012. In 2013. the U.S. Customs unit value of imported strontium carbonate was $0.82/kg ($1.81 /lb), and for strontium nitrate, the unit value was $1.20/kg ($2.65/lb). The unit value of imported celestite, all of which came from Mexico, was $50/t ($45/st).
Although strontium is the 15th most abundant element in the earth's crust, only the minerals celestite (strontium sulfate) and strontianite (strontium carbonate) contain strontium in sufficient quantities to make recovery practical. Celestite has been the leading source of strontium since the 1870s because it occurs more frequently in economically attractive sedimentary deposits. The most important celestite deposits are found in China. Iran. Mexico, Spain and Turkey. Deposits of strontianite have been identified in China and Malawi, but production has been reported only from China.
The world's leading producers of celestite are China, Mexico and Spain. Of an estimated 245 kt (270,000/st) of celestite produced worldwide in 2013, 97 percent was produced in those countries. Although celestite deposits occur in the United States, no celestite has been mined domestically since 1959.
Celestite is rarely consumed directly. It is typically converted to strontium carbonate through chemical processes. Strontium carbonate is used directly in some applications and is also converted into downstream chemicals such as strontium chloride, strontium hydroxide or strontium nitrate. Imports of celestite, the most commonly used strontium mineral, have increased every year since 2010 and increased dramatically in 2013. with virtually all of the material coming from Mexico. These imports are thought to be used directly in drilling fluids for oil and natural gas exploration and production for which celestite is ground, but undergoes no chemical processing.
China is the world's leading producer of strontium carbonate, followed by Germany and Mexico. China uses mostly domestic celestite to supply its strontium carbonate plants; Germany is 100 percent reliant on imported celestite and Mexico consumes domestic ore for its strontium carbonate production. Celestite reserves in China are smaller and of lower quality than those in the other major producing countries of Mexico and Spain; therefore, China is expected to become more reliant on imported celestite.
Ceramics and glass manufacture remained among the top end-use industries through strontium's use in ceramic ferrite magnets and other ceramic and glass applications. The use of strontium nitrate in pyrotechnics was estimated to equal the use of strontium carbonate in ferrite magnets. Other applications include master alloys for aluminum casting, pigments and fillers in corrosion-resistant paints, and electrolytic production of zinc. I
China is the world's leading producer of strontium carbonate, followed by Germany and Mexico. China uses mostly domestic celestite to supply its strontium carbonate plants; Germany is 100 percent reliant on imported celestite and Mexico consumes domestic ore for its strontium carbonate production.
Talc is a layered, hydrous magnesium silicate mineral. It has a soft, soapy feel and typically a smooth texture and is known for its insulation, heat resistance, chemical stability, oil absorption and strong covering quality. Talc, Mg,Si4O|0(OH)2, has a theoretical chemical composition of MgO at 31.7 percent, SiO, at 63.5 percent and H,0 at 4.8 percent. However, talc's chemical and mineralogical composition can vary depending on its geological history/parent rock association. These mineral associations and variable levels are usually chlorite, quartz and carbonates (magnesite, calcite and dolomite).
Two key elemental substitutions that can occur in the talc crystal structure are iron for magnesium and fluorine for hydroxyl. These compositional differences may limit or enhance the usage of talc in specific market niches. The United States remains self-sufficient in most grades of talc.
Talc deposits are categorized under four origintypes occurring as secondary and/or tertiary alterations of pre-existing rocks: 1) ultramafic 2) mafic 3) metasedimentary and 4) metamorphic. Type 1 deposits, while the most abundant, are generally of lower grade and are second to Type 3 deposits based on utilizationcommercialization. Type 4 deposits, while historically a dominant source, have diminished substantially in their usage over the years due to elevated amphibole content. Type 2 deposits are least pure and used of all the origin-types. Another representation of the four talc origin categories noted above can be as ultramafic/ mafic, metasedimentary-carbonate, metasedimentarysilicoaluminous and metamorphic.
Product groupings such as industrial, cosmetic and pharmaceutical sometimes inferred or denoted a purity, but these groupings are not strict delineations in recent times. Additionally, some talc products can sometimes be categorized under chloritic-talc, carbonate-talc or tremolitic-talc. Here, the hyphened statements denote the second most dominant mineral phase (usually 20-50 percent) in addition to the predominant talc component (usually at 50 percent or greater).
Pyrophyllite is also a layered hydrous aluminum silicate mineral. Pyrophyllite has similar physical properties as talc, while elemental substitutions are minimal compared to talc. Pyrophyllite, Al2Si40|(1(0H)2, has a theoretical chemical composition of Al20., at 28.3 percent, Si02 at 66.7 percent and H,0 at 5 percent. Typical accessory minerals can be quartz, kaolin, diaspore, boehmite, sericite and chlorite, in addition to iron-containing impurities of hematite, limonite/ goethite and pyrite. Grades are differentiated by particle size, moisture content, fired color and purity, as measured by fineness and screen residue.
Pyrophyllite deposits are generally classified under hydrothermal or metamorphic with more expanded types as: 1) hydrothermal in metasomatites continental and island-arc volcanic zones, platforms, folded systems, 2) hydrothermal in metasomatites in wall rock quartz veins-granitoids and metamorphosed clastic suites, 3) metamorphosed metasomatites in submarine volcanic zones enclosing sulfide ores, 4) stratiform metamorphosed clastic clay suites with pyroclastic material and coal seams and 5) in clays formed by weathering.
Pyrophyllite has a high dielectric strength, low electrical conductivity, reasonably high thermal stability and chemical inertness that allows for primary usages in refractory and ceramic applications. Critical attributes in refractory applications are iron and quartz content, while a critical attribute in ceramics is whiteness before and after firing. Additional industrial usages are in paint, chemical carriers in agricultural and filler in industrial coatings, sealants and caulks.
For 2013, the primary producer of pyrophyllite in the United States and with worldwide distribution is Vanderbilt Minerals LLC - Standard Mineral Division (owned by R.T. Vanderbilt) in North Carolina. The division owns more than 607 ha (1,500 acres) of land that has reserves in excess of 100 years. Pyrophyllite ore is mined in several openpit mines and is crushed, dry-ground and air-classified at the division's mill in Robbins. The processed pyrophyllite ore is sold under the trade name Pyrax.
Piedmont Minerals, also in North Carolina, supplies products but mainly for in-house usage with its parent company, Resco. Pyrophyllite production remained steady for 2013 with consumption usually trending in decreasing order as refractory, ceramics, paint and other.
Three companies comprised for six talc-producing mines that are located in four states and accounted for greater than 99 percent of the domestic production in 2013. Domestic production is basically openpit mining. Imerys Talc (Imerys Filtration and Performance Minerals) remains the top domestic and international producer with mines and processing facilities in Montana and Vermont, along with processing in Houston, TX.American Talc Co. has mines and processing facilities in Texas. Minerals Technologies Inc., through its Barretts Minerals, a subsidiary of Specialty Minerals Inc., has mines and processing facilities in Montana and Texas. Cimbar Performance Minerals processes imported talc at its Mt. Vernon, IN facility. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported that one company was operating from stockpiles in California (most likely Protech Minerals Inc. or CalTalc Co.) and another in Virginia, Alberene Soapstone Co.IMI Fabi has processing plants for imported talc in West Virginia and New York. Southern Oregon Soapstone Co. LLC operates a soapstone quarry in Oregon.
Previously reported 2012 estimated production and consumption values (2012e) have been corrected with 2012 actual values in the 15-year trend figures. The talc industry had a slight increase in production (3 percent) for 2013e, which is promising given that there was a 16-percent decrease in production from 2011 to 2012. However, in comparison to the 20052006 highs, the industry would be considered still in stagnation. For 2013e, talc production is estimated at 531 kt (585,000 st), an increase of only 1 percent and valued at $18 million. Talc sold by the producers was at 590 kt (650.000 st) an increase of only about 3 percent from 2012 levels and valued at $89 million.
For 2013, apparent consumption of talc was estimated to be 600 kt (660,000 st) an increase of only about 2 percent from 2012 levels. The average-price of a processed ton of product was estimated to be about $160/t ($145/st) for 2013, representing an increase of about 5 percent from 2012 levels. The 15-year trend data for production and apparent consumption from the USGS are provided in Fig. 1.
For 2013, companies in Montana, Texas and Vermont accounted for the predominant share of domestic production in decreasing order.Talc produced and sold domestically had a distribution as follows: ceramics (25 percent), paper (22 percent), paint (19 percent), roofing (9 percent), plastics (8 percent), cosmetics (3 percent), rubber (3 percent) and other (11 percent). The "other" section includes a variety of applications for pharmaceuticals, agricultural products, animal-feed, sealant, sculpturing, food and polishing.
For 2013e, Talc exports were 170 kt (187,000 st), estimated and reflect a 32 percent decrease from 2012. Canada accounted for 50 percent of the decline with overall demand still sluggish under present economic recoveries worldwide.
Talc imports amounted to about 240 kt (264,000 st), a 26-percent decrease from 2012. About 75 percent of the total tonnage of imported talc varied among plastics, cosmetics and paint applications in decreasing order, with the remainder in ceramics, paper and rubber. Canada and China accounted for 75 percent of imported product, while there were smaller levels from Pakistan.
For 2013, total talc usage including imports was distributed as follows: plastics (27 percent), ceramics (18 percent), paint (16 percent), paper (15 percent), cosmetics (5 percent), roofing (6 percent), rubber (3 percent) and other (10 percent). The "other" section includes a variety of applications for pharmaceuticals, agricultural products, animal-feed, sealant, sculpturing, food and polishing.
Fifteen-year trend data for imports consumption and exports taken from the USGS are provided in Fig. 2.
In 2013. employment in the talc sector was at 300 at mines and mills, a decrease of about 3 percent from 2012. Overall, the employment sector has remained stable during the last five years. The fifteen-year trend data of production and employment from the USGS are shown in Fig. 3.
Talc producers must continue to provide a functional and high performance mineral additive that can increase the value of their products to the end use customer.
In specific cases, unique properties can be achieved by employing proprietary coatings or processing products to increase aspect ratio by delaminating or to increase the overall talc purity by beneficiation. Silane/siloxane-based and directed surface treatments are commonplace. Nano-talc products (10 to 100 nanometers in one dimension) continue to be explored for their uses in various applications.
There are a multitude of uses for talc such as plastics, cosmetics, flooring, health care, catalytic converters, animal feed, caulks, sealants, gaskets, belts, hoses, specialty anti-blocking/anti-hazing in plastic films, auto body putty, asphalt shingles, joint compounds, pharmaceuticals, ceramics and dimension stone bodies (steatite).
In ceramic applications of dinnerware, sanitary ware and hobby ceramics, talc provides low shrinkage as well as high brightness upon firing at various temperatures. In other applications, high-quality, calcined-talc blends can be tailored to individual customer's specifications to impart a controlled shrinkage and reduce firing time. The reduced firing time aids in processing and energy costs for the customer.
Another specialty usage for which demand remains high for talc is combining talc with kaolinite and other proprietary additives to formulate firedcordierite bodies used for catalytic converters for vehicles. In dimension stone applications, talc is used for countertops, sinks, mantels, fireplace surrounds, pavers and tile brick. The competitive products in this field are SiC or metal-based catalytic converters.
In paints, talc is an economic extender and filler while providing brightness and durability to paint coatings. In rubber applications, talc provides reinforcement, ultraviolet radiation resistance and can be used as a processing aid for good extrusion rates, impermeability and improved surface finish.
The plastics market continues to offer some potential growth opportunities, especially in polypropylene. It is projected that increases in talc usage for lightweight and recyclable products are needed for the automotive market. Here, the desire for compacted and submicron talc products provide high-performance end use products. A potential upside for new uses continues in the area of wood polymer composites, where the talc will provide a functional filler role.
Talc continues to be used in the papermaking process, especially as a pitch control agent, while it faces competition in the paper filler and niche paper coating sectors from precipitated and ground calcium carbonates. In ceramics, talc competes with clays and pyrophyllite; in paint, plastics and rubber with kaolin and mica.
Substitutes for talc in ceramics are bentonite, chlorite, kaolin and pyrophyllite. In paint, substitutes are chlorite, kaolin and mica. In paper, they are calcium carbonate and kaolin. In plastics, substitutes are bentonite, kaolin, mica and wollastonite. And in rubber applications, substitutes include kaolin and mica.
In late 2012, the talc division of the Industrial Minerals Association-North America and Eurotalc (under Industrial Minerals Association-Europe), the Personal Care Products Council and talc producers provided voluminous documentation and a final joint comment to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) on its Scientific Literature Review (SLR) on talc, more specifically, on the Safety Assessment of Talc Used in Cosmetics on the analysis and safety of cosmetic talc products, specifically asbestos. In early 2013, the CIR's Expert Panel completed its review of talc with a favorable outcome, concluding "that talc is safe in the present practices of use and concentration described in this safety assessment.'' The 83-page document is now available, covering mineralogy/geology, toxikinetics, toxicological studies, reproductive/development studies, geotoxicity, carcinogenicity, irritation and sensitization. It has an extensive reference section with 219 citations.
As noted previously for 2013, two new endeavors were being monitored and worked on in the talc industry: Canada'sHealth Canada and Environment Canada on the Domestic Substances List Inventory Update Phase 2 through its Chemicals Management Plan and its inquiry into whether talc should be classified as an environmental toxin, and China'sFDA strengthening regulation on pharmaceutical excipients, which would cover talc usage.
Titanium is the ninth most abundant element in the earth's crust and can be found in nearly all rocks and sediments. It is a lithophile element with a strong affinity for oxygen and is not found as a pure metal in nature. Titanium was first isolated as a pure metal in 1910, but it was not until 1948 that the metal was produced commercially using the Kroll process (named after its developer, William Kroll) to reduce titanium tetrachloride with magnesium to produce titanium metal.
About 93 percent of the global titanium mineral consumption is for the production of titanium dioxide (TiO,). TiO, has properties of opacity and chemical inertness that make it well suited as a pigment to impart a durable white to paints, paper, wallboard, toothpaste, sunscreen and plastics. As a metal, few materials possess titanium's strength-to-weight ratio and corrosion resistance. In high-strength applications, titanium competes with aluminum, composites, intermetallics, steel and superalloys.
Ilmenite (FeTiO,) and rutile (TiO,) are the two principal minerals used as the source for TiO, pigment and titanium metal. All of the world's natural rutile and a significant proportion of the world's ilmenite are currently mined from placer deposits. Ilmenite is also mined from hard-rock deposits in Canada and Norway. In addition to their use as feedstock for TiO, pigments and titanium metal, titanium minerals also are used for various applications including welding rods, metallurgical fluxes, abrasives, and other titanium-based chemicals.
For placer deposits, dredging and dry mining surface techniques are used for the recovery of titanium minerals. Gravity spirals, magnetic and high-tension separation circuits are used to separate the heavy mineral constituents. Ilmenite is often processed to produce a synthetic rutile or titaniferous slag. Although numerous technologies are used to produce synthetic rutile, nearly all are based on either selective leaching or thermal reduction of iron and other impurities in ilmenite. Titaniferous slag containing 75 percent to 95 percent TiO, is produced commercially using pyrometallurgical processes.
TiO, pigment is produced from ilmenite, rutile or titaniferous slag by either the chloride process or the sulfate process.The sulfate process uses simpler technology than the chloride process and can use lower-grade, less-expensive feedstock, but has higher infrastructure and process costs. Pigment produced by either process is categorized by crystal form as either anatase or rutile (polymorphs of TiO,). Rutile pigment is less reactive with the binders in paint when exposed to sunlight than is the anatase pigment and is preferred for use in outdoor paints. Anatase pigment has a bluer tone than rutile, is somewhat softer, and is used mainly in indoor paints and in paper manufacturing. Depending on the manner in which it is produced and subsequently finished, titanium dioxide pigment can exhibit a wide range of functional properties, including dispersion, durability, opacity and tinting.
Global mine production in 2013 of ilmenite and rutile totaled 7.6 Mt (8.4 million st) of contained TiO,, a 5 percent increase from 2012 (Table 1). Global reserves of ilmenite were 700 Mt (770 million st) of contained TiO, and those of rutile were 48 Mt (53 million st) of contained Ti02. Pigment production in the United States was 1.2 Mt (1.3 million st), an increase of 5 percent from that in 2012. Consumption was 743 kt (819,000 st), a 6 percent increase from that in 2012. Successive record high amounts of titanium sponge were produced in 2012 and 2013 (Table 2). Although 2013 production data were withheld, annual sponge production capacity in the United States was 24 kt/a (26,000 stpy)and was insufficient to meet domestic demand. In 2013, the United States imported 18 kt (20,000 st) of titanium sponge. China remained the world's leading titanium sponge producer at 100 kt (110,000 st) in 2013. China's export levels remained low because of strong demand from its industrial sector. RTI International Metals, Inc., of Pittsburgh, PA, forecast global demand for aerospace titanium to be 14.4 kt (15,800 st) during the next five years, a 12-percent combined annual growth rate from estimates of the current aerospace market.
Mineral sands. In the United States, Southern Ionics Inc. is developing heavy mineral deposits at its Mission South and Mission North mines in Charlton County and Brantley County, GA, respectively. Production at the Mission South Mine began in May 2014 with production at the Mission North Mine expected in early 2015. Production from both mines is expected to be 120 to 130 kt/a (132,000 to 143,000 st) of titanium products. The mine life for the South and North Mission mines are expected to be eight and four years, respectively, and agreements are in place for other deposits in the area for a projected mine life of 25 years. In December, Base Resources Ltd.'s Kwale project in Kenya began production with expected production levels of 330 kt/a (363,000 st) of ilmenite and 79 kt/a (87,000 stpy) of rutile during the first seven years of operation. In January 2014, Mineral Commodities Ltd. of Welshpool, Australia, began shipments of zircon and rutile products from its Tormin project in South Africa. The mine life of Tormin was anticipated to be five years with a production rate of 48 kt/a (53,000 stpy) of zircon and rutile concentrates. Mineral Deposits Ltd. started production in March 2014 from the Grand Cote project in Senegal, which was expected to produce 575 kt/a (634,000 stpy) of ilmenite over a mine life of 20 years.
In September, Huntsman International LLC, announced plans to buy the performance additives and TiO, businesses of Rockwood Holdings Inc. The acquisition increased Huntsman's annual Ti02 capacity to 905 kt/a (997,000 stpy), making Huntsman the second ranked global producer of TiO, pigments. The sale was expected to be completed during the first half of 2014. In October, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. (DuPont) of Wilmington, DE, announced the spinoff of its Performance Chemical Division, which included DuPont Titanium Technologies. DuPont shareholders would receive stock in the new company and the spinoff was to be completed in 18 months. DuPont delayed plans to boost the capacity of its pigment plant in Altamira, Mexico, owing to reduced global demand. The upgrade was originally scheduled for completion by yearend 2014, but was deferred by 12 months and would raise the capacity of the plant from 140 to 200 kt/a (154,000 to 220,000 stpy). In April, Group DF of Kiev, Ukraine, announced plans to construct a new TiO, pigment production facility at Armiansk with a capacity of 80 kt/a (88,000 stpy) by 2015, and an existing plant at the same facility was to be upgraded to 120 kt/a (132,000 stpy), from 40 kt/a (44,000 stpy) of existing capacity. In August, Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha Ltd. (ISK) of Osaka, Japan, announced the closure of a 54 kt/a (59,700 stpy) titanium dioxide production plant in Singapore owing to rising infrastructure costs, feedstock prices and reduced demand. Argex Titanium Inc. of Montreal, Canada, began operations at its research and development center at Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec. The center was to develop pigment production processes for a 50-kt/a (55,000-stpy) plant to be built at the same site by 2015. In January 2014,The National Titanium Dioxide Co. (Cristal) of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Toho Titanium Co. Ltd. of Chigasaki, Japan, established a joint venture for construction of a titanium sponge plant at Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, adjacent to Cristal's existing TiO, plant. Capacity of 15.6 kt/a (17,200 stpy) was scheduled to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2016. In March, Group DF announced plans to construct a titanium slag plant and a titanium sponge plant in Zaporizhya, Ukraine, with a capacity of 150 and 40 kt/a (165,000 and 44,000 stpy), respectively. No schedule was given for completion of these projects.
Several agreements were signed between aerospace manufacturers and titanium producers to assure their titanium supply chain. VSMPO-Avisma (VSMPO) of Verkhnyaya Saida. Russia and Airbus S.A.S. of Toulouse, France, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to promote end-to-end strategic cooperation. VSMPO also signed an MOU with Boeing Co. of Chicago. IL that included the construction of a new plant in the Sverdlovsk region for the finishing of titanium stampings. Boeing announced plans to expand a plant in Helena. MT to increase its machining capacity for titanium airframe components. RTI International Metals Inc. of Pittsburgh, PA, signed agreements with three units of United Technologies Corp. of Hartford, CT, to provide rotor quality billets, mill products for rotary-wing platforms, and sheet for engine nacelle components. Alcoa Inc. of Pittsburgh, PA, signed an agreement with Airbus to provide value-added titanium and aluminum aerospace forgings.
In September, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced the award of five projects to develop new titanium metal and alloy production technologies. In June, Boeing announced a collaboration with the Council for Scientific Research (CSIR) of Pretoria, South Africa to develop technologies to convert titanium ore into titanium metal powder and bring titanium powder fabricated components to the aerospace market.
Prices at yearend 2013 in all titanium categories (Table 3) were less than those of yearend 2012. Titanium mineral feedstock prices continued to decline after reaching an all-time high in mid-2012.
Worldwide vermiculite usage in 2013 was 512 kt (564,400 st), which is a 5.3-percent increase from 2013. Vermiculite is mined from shallow (
The largest producers are Industrial Development Corp., China, with its mine Palabora Mining Co. Ltd., Phalabowra, South Africa (ore stock is phlogopite mica) and its mine in Korla, China (formerly Xinlong Vermiculite. a biotite mica ore stock); and Brasil Minerios (ore stock is biotite mica), with mines in Goias, Brazil and a plant in Sao Luiz. Together, these companies produced 74 percent of the worldwide vermiculite consumed in 2013. Smaller mining companies operating in Russia, India, Australia, Africa and China produced 5 percent.
Imerys Industrial Minerals, Paris. France, did intermittent mining at its Samrec Vermiculite Ltd., Zimbabwe (Shawa deposit). Gulf Industrials Ltd's., Australia, Namekara, Uganda deposit was under care and maintenance since October 2012. There were small deposits in Bulgaria and Turkey, with limited production.
North American production increased slightly in 2013. Total consumption in North America was 180 kt (198,400 st), down 6 percent. North American production (ore stock is biotite mica) came from Virginia Vermiculite Ltd., Louisa. VA, and Specialty Vermiculite Corp., Enoree, SC. Both mines produce only finer sizes (North America were essentially flat and were primarily from South Africa, Brazil and China. Exports from the United States were essentially zero.
Primary uses for vermiculite are in horticultural (potting soils and amendments for exfoliated vermiculite) and fire protection applications (fire protection sprays, boards and ceramics). However, the use of vermiculite as an intumescent (concentrates prior to exfoliation) in coatings and binders (chemically delaminated vermiculites that form high tensile strength films), in finely ground form (as a functional filler in coatings, construction materials and in friction brake applications) and in pollution control applications continue finding growing, higher value markets. The University of Nottingham. U.K. continues the development of a microwave exfoliator, which is expected to be commercially available in early 2015.
Prices for domestic U.S. vermiculite concentrate, ex-plant, ranged from $145 to $565/ ($131 to $512/ st), depending on grade size. Imports into the United States for vermiculite concentrate, bulk, f.o.b. barge. Gulf Coast port, ranged from $320 to $ 1,020/t ($290 to 925/st). Generally, pricing is dependent on particle size and yield (thermal expansion). The greater these values, the higher the price. North American producers do not have coarser, higher yielding deposits, so all of this concentrate must be imported (mostly from South Africa and China). Pricing in U.S. dollars was essentially flat in 2013.
Total worldwide production capacity continues to outpace consumption, but the coarser size (greater than 2-mm or 0.8-in. particles) products are in very constrained supply, while the very fine sizes are in excess capacity.
Useful web sites: http://www.vermiculite.org. The Vermiculite Association; http://minerals.er.usgs.gov/ minerals/pubs/commodity/vermiculite, U.S. Geologic Survey, Vermiculite Commodity Index. *
Wollastonite (CaSiO,) is a calcium silicate of the pyroxenite mineral group. It is hydrophilic, has low water and oil adsorption, is thermally stable and is largely chemically inert and biologically safe. It is alkaline and moderately hard - Moh 4.5. Four additional properties control industrial application - chemical composition, brightness, fiber length and aspect ratio.
Substitution of iron and manganese for calcium is a common source of chemical impurity and can exceed 20 percent on a weight basis. Most industrial applications employ iron contents of less than one percent. Iron and manganese impurities also impart coloration. Brightness is a measure of wollastonite powder whiteness and is highest in pure varieties. Calcite content must be low for use in ceramics.
Two perfect cleavages provide an acicular habit that may become more pronounced with milling. Acicularity is measured by the aspect ratio (length: width) of mineral fibers.
Wollastonite commonly forms the reaction of calcite and silica at high temperature conditions in the Earth's crust. Silica is provided either from impurities within limestone or as dissolved species in fluids that migrate through carbonate rocks in hydrothermal systems to form rock units, known as skarn. Most deposits form at depths from 2 to 15 km (1.2 to 9 miles) below the surface. They are subsequently exhumed during mountain-building episodes. Wollastonite skarn is found in recent and ancient mountain belts worldwide, where it can be mined in openpits.
Synthetic wollastonite contributes less than 2 percent of world production capacity. This is normally of the beta type (pseudowollastonite, bourgoisite) and is not acicular, although some very fine fiber alpha acicular wollastonite is made in Japan.
World capacity is 1.02 Mt/a (1.1 million stpy) (Industrial Minerals Magazine (IMj.OcX. 2009). World reserves are estimated to exceed 90 Mt (99 million st) with probable reserves of 270 Mt (298 million st).
Lishu Dadingshan Wollastonite LLC, Jilin Province, is one of the largest producers with capacity of crude 170 kt/a (187,000 stpy) and processed capacity 85 kt/a (94,000 stpy).
Lingnan Wollastonite Materials Co. Ltd, is second with capacity of 100 kt/a (110.000 stpy). There are many small mines operated by villages.
Minera Roca Rodando (formerly Minera NYCO), Sonora, Mexico has design capacity of 265 kt/a (292,000 stpy), which makes Mexico number one in world capacity at about 305 kt/a (336,000 stpy).
But NYCO's Mexican production is far smaller than capacity. It is reported to be operating at 30 percent capacity.
There are several smaller wollastonite producers in Mexico, with estimated capacity of 40 kt/a (44,000 stpy).
India is the third largest in wollastonite production capacity. Wolkem India and its associate. Mogems. have a capacity of 180 kt/a (198,000 stpy) in 2010 of which 175 kt/a (193,000 stpy) is from Wolkem.
Wolkem is developing its deposit near Ajmer, Rajasthan. It plans on expanding production by 30 kt/a (33,000 stpy) by 2013/2014, to feed anticipated growth in sales to Asia-Pacific and Southeast Asia.
The United States is reported to have 190 kt/a (209,000 stpy) of capacity. About 150 kt/a (165,000 stpy) of ore are processed by NYCO, at Lewis/Willsboro, NY. NYCO ore is about 60 percent wollastonite with the balance diopside and garnet. Garnet is removed by high-intensity magnets.
NYCO is now owned by S&B of Greece. S&B is expanding into added-value minerals. There are reported to be deposits in Greece with 50 percent wollastonite content.
NYCO has consummated a land exchange with New York state to get temporary access to 0.8 km2 (0.3 sq miles) of forest preserve in Lewis, adjoining NYCO'sLewis Mine. Reserves of wollastonite in this parcel are estimated to be 1.2 to 1.5 Mt (1.3 to 1.65 million st). This site would replace the existing Lewis Mine, which has only three to four years of life remaining. NYCO employs 102 workers plus 45 indirect jobs.
The balance, 40 kt/a (44,000 st) of U.S. capacity is at R.T. Vanderbilt, near Gouverneur, NY. The ore also contains calcite, prehnite and traces of diopside.
Canadian Wollastonite received final approval from the Ministry of Northern Affairs for its mine in Seeleys Bay, ON. Reserves are 30 Mt (33 million st), proven and indicated 9 Mt (10 million st).
Resource is estimated at 9.6 Mt (10.5 million st) skarn containing 42-80 percent wollastonite and 25-40 percent diopside. Mining commenced in 2012.
A processing plant capacity of 15 kt/a (16,500 stpy) wollastonite, and 12 kt/a (13,200 stpy) of diopside is planned for 2014. The operation will be focused on the production of HAR treated and nontreated products.
In addition, specialty calcium and magnesium aggregates were mined in 2013. Tests indicate that their wollastonite is a suitable noncarbon dioxide generating source of calcium and silica for use in portland cement production. They are finding interest in byproduct diopside, as a source of calcium, magnesium and silica in fertilizers.
In Spain, Crimidesa Group of Salamanca, Spain has opened the Compania Mineral Ilustración Mine with 100 kt/a (110,000 stpy) capacity. Reserves are 26 Mt (28.6 million st) and resources 100 Mt (110 million st). Markets are mainly for glass and ceramics.
Aroche SL is planning to mine 43 kt/a (47,000 stpy) in Huelva Province, Spain, mainly for the ceramic market. Spain is the fourth largest ceramic tile producer. Reserves are 5.7 Mt (6.3 million st), grading 27 to 75 percent wollastonite.
Industrial Minerals Magazine estimates production capacity from Finland at 40 kt/a (44,000 stpy) from Nordkalk.
Namaqua Wollastonite has a mine in Northern Cape Province, South Africa that closed in 1999 but reopened recently. Reserves are reported as 3.2 Mt (3.5 million st) of 52 percent wollastonite.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates world production of mined crude wollastonite as 510 kt (562,000 st) in 2012 down slightly from 525 kt (578,000 st) in 2011.
USGS reports Chinese production in 2012 was 300 kt (330,000 st).This has risen from 250 kt (276,000 st) in 1995.
This production is derived from more than 60 small operations. But the industry is consolidating with six to eight companies processing ore from several mines. The largest producers are Lishu Dadingshan Wollastonite Co. Ltd and Lingnan Wollastonite Materials Co. Ltd.
Most of the production goes for use in tiles. But the larger companies are adding more sophisticated processing methods and entering into high-aspect-ratio and fine-grade markets.
USGS estimates Indian production at 150 kt (165,000 st) in 2012, up from 145 kt (160,000 st) in 2010.
Wolkem uses hand-sorting followed by magnetic separation to achieve purity of 98 percent. Milling in 13 plants is by ball, Bauer, hammer and roller mills to produce grain sizes of 5-150 microns with aspect ratios ranging from 3:1 to 20:1. Wolkem plans to increase production of high-aspect ratio grades by 25 percent in 2013. Wolkem reports growth in South East Asia and Asia Pacific at 6-7 percent per annum.
Cañad Wollastonite the first industrial mineral mine licensed in Southern Ontario in more than 35 years. In 2012, Canadian Wollastonite shipped just more than 6.5 kt (7,100 st) of wollastonite; primarily into metallurgical applications as a slag conditioner and into agriculture as a single mineral source of Ca, Mg and Si. Its secondary mineral, diopside, is also showing great promise in these chemistry related markets where the additional Mg is desired. CW expects volumes to grow significantly in 2014 in these and other related markets.
Canadian Wollastonite plans to construct a flotation plant in 2015 for production of a coarse highgrade, high-aspect product to be shipped into existing channels as a high quality feed stock material. CW is seeking a joint venture with one or more firms to bring production of higher value added products in house.
Mexican production in 2011 is estimated by USGS at 47.5 kt (52,300 st) and 55.2 kt (60,800 st) in 2012.
Industrial Minerals Magazine reports Mexican production by NYCO'sSonora subsidiary, Minera Roca Rodando, was 28 kt (31,000 st) in 2009, down from 45 kt (49,000 st) in 2008.
According to USGS, Finland produced about 11.5 kt (12,600 st) in 2012, down from its peak output of 40 kt (44,000 st) in 1990. Nordkalk Corp. experienced better than predicted sales in 2012, indicating a partial recovery. Nordkalk produces wollastonite as a byproduct of its 1-Mt/a (1.1-million stpy) limestone business. Nordkalk has been sold to the Rettig Group, Finland. Rettig is in the businesses of hydronic and electrical heating and indoor climate regulation and in shipping.
Compañía Mineral Illustracion (CMI) operates a mine in Salamanca. Production reported in IM for 2008 was 20 kt (22,000 st), up from 500 t (550 st) in 2003. Most of this is for ceramics and foundry applications. CMI is having some success in sales in container glass.
Namaqua Wollastonite Pty has restarted its mine near Garies, Namaqualand and anticipates sales of 17.3 kt (19,100 st) in 2012 and 23.3 kt (25,700 st) in 2014.
U.S. wollastonite production and consumption data are not reported by USGS, to protect the confidentiality of the only two larger scale miners. But the USGS reported that U.S. production in 2008 was less than 100 kt (110,000 st), 50 kt (55,000 st) less than in 2000.
USGS reports production increased 6 percent in 2011 over 2010. U.S. production has been hard hit by the recession and was estimated to be 60 kt to 70 kt (66,000 to 77,000 st) in 2009, with 4-7 percent improvement in 2011 (USGS). The reduction was due to the recession, especially in U.S. automobile production, with its influence on plastics, paint and metallurgical supply.
U.S. production is dominated by NYCO Minerals Inc. and RT Vanderbilt. NYCO production from its Lewis Mine was reported by IM to be 50 kt (55,000 st) in 2009, compared to 150 kt (165,000 st) in 2008. NYCO reports sales are back to pre-slump levels. Vanderbilt production in 2009 was reported to be 20 kt (22,000 st).
NYCO Minerals Inc. maintained its status as the largest single wollastonite producer in North America with U.S. production estimated to be back to 75 percent of capacity in 2012, possibly 110 kt (121,000 st). NYCO sales are reported to have recovered since.
NYCO was formerly owned by Fording Coal but was sold to Resource Capital Funds IV in 2007 for $34.5 million. It was operated by the Rolling Rock Minerals subsidiary of RCF. Rolling Rock was sold to S&B for $55.49 million on Sept. 14, 2012. S&B is a Greek conglomerate mining bentonite, perlite, bauxite and zeolites. It also makes fluxes and refractory products.
Fording estimated capacity for the two operations at 110 kt/a (121,000 stpy) for Willsboro and 240 kt/a (264,000 stpy) for Mexico. Reserves were stated by Fording at 6 Mt (6.6 million st) and 105 Mt (116 million st), respectively.
R.T. Vanderbilt has a mine in Lewis County, NY and a milling facility at Balmat, NY. Originally, this was only a ball milling and air classification plant. Its production capacity was 50 kt/a (55,000 stpy), which made 35-45 kt/a (38,500-49,000 stpy) of grades for paints and ceramics. The ore contained high-aspect ratio fibers. Such grades have been produced from Vanderbilt ore feedstock in Holland for several years for European users. Recently, Vanderbilt has introduced high-value, high-aspect ratio and surfacetreated wollastonite grades for use in plastics from its New York facility. Vanderbilt has undertaken research programs into new end uses, combined with aggressive marketing. Vanderbilt is restructuring the company to allow for future growth and vertical integration.
Fibertec Inc. processes imported Chinese wollastonite to supply the plastics industry, to supplement its glass-fiber products. Emphasis is on use in reinforced reaction injection molded (RRIM) urethane and urea polymers for automobile fenders and fascias. Milled glass fiber was the original choice for reinforcement. But wollastonite and mica have displaced or supplemented it when a smoother surface finish is needed.
A few thousand tons are mined from deposits in Inyo, Kern and Riverside counties, in California. It is used for decorative stone, ceramics, paint and mineral wool.
Exploration for new wollastonite sources in North America has slowed. This is due to overcapacity and the turn down in the markets. Another factor has been the failure of Resources Orleans in Canada. Sequoia Minerals purchased this property, but there is no activity reported.
North Bay Resources Inc. of the U.S. bought the Zippa Mountain West property in British Columbia, Canada in December 2009. This is comprised of six deposits with reserves of 50 Mt (55 million st). The Cliff deposit has 2 Mt (2.2 million st) of 80 percent wollastonite. Tests have shown that magnetic separation and flotation can achieve a purity of 96 percent with a brightness of 87 percent. Fifty percent of the product has aspect ratio 15:1.
Explotaciones Aroche SL has a deposit in Huelva province, Spain. Wollastonite content averages 27 percent with hot spots of 75 percent. It has a target production of 43 kt/a (47,000 stpy).
Auzminerals Resources Group, based in Singapore, has a high-purity deposit in Far North Queensland, Australia. Indicated estimated resources are 560 kt (617,000 st) with total potential resources of 2.5 Mt (2.75 million st). A 50-kt (55,000-st) plant of high whiteness, high-aspect ratio grades is planned.
Trade statistics are not collected by the U.S. or by the United Nations and little information is available.
The USGS estimates less than 4.5 kt (5,000 st) of wollastonite was imported into the U.S. in 2012. Sources were China, Finland, India and Mexico. The USGS reports estimates of less than 10 kt (11,000 st) of wollastonite were exported. Documented exports were in the range 2-2.1 kt (2,200-2,3000 st) in 2011.
World sales of wollastonite were estimated to be in the range 550 kt-600 kt/a (606,000-660,000 stpy).
Peter Goodwin, chief executive officer of NYCO gives prices in the range $100-3,500/t ($90-$3,175/st) depending on the end use and complexity of processing. In August 2010, NYCO increased selling prices across the board by 6-8 percent and again by 4-6 percent effective Jan. 1,2013.
Wolkem believes prices of wollastonite from China will increase due to the new taxation policy and changes in export duties.
NYCO has estimated consumption of wollastonite worldwide at about 50 kt (55,000 st) for use in plastics and 200-450 kt (220,000-500,000 st) in ceramics.
Smaller markets include wallboard, adhesives, caulks and sealants. North American consumption of fine powder products was dominated by the ceramics industry, but per capita production of tiles is lower than in Asia or Europe.
Wollastonite is a key ingredient in ceramic tiles. In 2010, China produced 44.1 percent of the world's tiles and consumed 37.4 percent. Brazil is the second largest tile producer with 8 percent, India produces 6 percent. Spain, Vietnam, Iran and Italy each produce about 4 percent of the total. The U.S. produced 0.6 percent and consumed 2 percent.
In Asia, the predominant application is in fast-fired ceramic tiles. Consumption of high-aspect ratio and surface-treated wollastonite was dominantly in plastics.
Production of fibrocement products is increasing in the United States and may attain the high volume of the defunct asbestos-cement industry. Wollastonite is commonly used as a reinforcement, replacing asbestos in fibrocement in Asia and Europe, but not yet in North America.
Prices of polymers have escalated due to the high price of oil. High-volume polymers like polypropylene (PP) now sell for $2,424-$3,460/t ($1.10-1.57/lb). (January,2014). Such prices make the use of wollastonite and other extenders highly desirable.
Typically, in the 1980s, PP sold for $560/t ($0.25/ lb). Prices of wollastonite and other extender minerals have not grown at similar same rates. The trend for wollastonite for use in plastics is toward price increases.
Use of wollastonite in plastics is growing faster in Asia, due to the rapid (10-12 percent) growth rate. China is now the world's largest producer of automobiles. This has stimulated the recovery of the high aspect ratio wollastonite trade.
The trend in higher value wollastonite products is to finer, high-aspect-ratio grades to improve the surface smoothness of reinforced plastics.
This trend is likely to accelerate with the move by the automobile industry toward unpainted plastic parts, especially exterior body panels. There is major interest by automobile makers in nanoclay reinforcement. This will make wollastonite producers devise new processing methods to produce submicron grades to avoid losing market share.
Surface treatment is used to improve adhesion between mineral fibers and polymers. This sector is likely to grow. Generally, most high-quality wollastonite products derive from North America or from European secondary producers that import and process Asian lump wollastonite.
NYCO has been successful in developing grades to suit the plastics industry. Added value has been achieved by producing grades as fine as 15 microns in length, while still maintaining a high aspect ratio.
NYCO has been a pioneer in the use of silane coupling agents. In a paper at the Industrial Minerals IM19 Conference in Athens, in April 2008, Peter Goodwin, president of NY CO, announced a new series of ASPECT grades based on new coupling agents. These improve substantially the impact reinforcing capabilities of wollastonite, with no loss of other beneficial properties.
NYCO has also developed the Elektra-Stat reinforcement, a combination of wollastonite and carbon black, for use in conductive and antistatic plastics. This overcomes the low reinforcing character of carbon black. Elektra-Stat sells for $8,000/t ($7,280/ st).
NYCO is making an aggressive effort to increase Chinese sales by appointing a managing director for Chinese operations. NYCO is also increasing its agent/ distributorship network in Europe.
A new development with very large potential is the use of wollastonite as a sequestration mineral for carbon dioxide, a major factor in global warming. Unlike other methods, sequestration by wollastonite is permanent and results in a mixture of precipitated calcium carbonate and silica that may have filler applications in paper, plastics and rubber.
Substitution of wollastonite as a source of calcium and silica in the cement and glass industries will reduce global warming by reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
One development of concern is the NIOSH Roadmap for Research version 4,2010, which defines fibers as greater than 5 microns with aspect ratio greater than 3:1. The industrial minerals industry as a whole is challenging this.B
Zirconium is the 20th most abundant element in the Earth's crust. It occurs in a variety of rock types and geologic environments but most often in igneous rocks in the form of zircon (ZrSi04). Zircon is recovered as a coproduct of the mining and processing of heavy mineral sands for the titanium minerals ilmenite and rutile. The sands are formed by the weathering and erosion of rock containing zircon and titanium heavy minerals and their subsequent concentration in sedimentary systems, particularly in coastal environments.
Zircon is used for facings on foundry molds, where it increases resistance to metal penetration and gives a uniform finish to castings. Milled or ground zircon is used in refractory paints for coating the surfaces of molds. Refractory bricks containing zircon are used in furnaces and hearths for containing molten metals. Zirconium dioxide, also known as zirconia, has high light refractivity and good thermal stability and is primarily used as an opacifier and pigment in glazes and colors for pottery and other ceramic products. Substitutes for zircon in the foundry industry include calcined kaolin clay and olivine, but substitution in the ceramics industry is more difficult.
Yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) is used in the manufacture of oxygen sensors that control combustion in automobile engines and furnaces; in the manufacture of diverse products including cubic zirconia, fiberoptic connectors, refractory coatings and structural ceramics; and as an insulation coating on turbine engine blades to extend the engine service life. YSZ is also used in dental applications such as bridges, crowns and inlays due to its strength and fracture resistance. Zirconium metal is used in corrosive environments and various specialty alloys. Because of its low thermal neutron absorption cross section, hafnium-free zirconium metal is used as cladding for nuclear fuel rod tubes.
Global production of zircon concentrates was 1.4 Mt (1.54 million st) in 2013, a slight decrease from 2012 (Table 1). Australia was the world's leading producer of zircon with 600 kt (660,000 st), followed by South Africa at 360 kt (397,000 st).
Global reserves of zirconium dioxide are estimated to be 67 Mt (74 million st), 60 percent of which occur in Australia and 21 percent in South Africa. Identified world resources of zircon exceed 60 Mt (66 million st) including 14 Mt (15.4 million st) in the United States associated with titanium resources in heavy mineral sand deposits.
During 2013 in the United States, Southern Ionics Inc. was developing heavy mineral deposits at its Mission South and Mission North mines in Charlton and Brantley counties, GA, respectively. Production at the Mission South Mine was anticipated to begin in May 2014 with production at the Mission North Mine expected in early 2015. Production from both mines was expected to be 25 to 30 kt/a (27,500 to 33,000 stpy) of zircon. The mine life for the Mission South and Mission North Mines were expected to be eight and four years, respectively. Agreements were in place for other deposits in the area to extend projected production life to 25 years.
In December 2013. Base Resources Ltd.'s Kwale project in Kenya began production with expected production levels of 30 kt/a (33,000 stpy) of zircon during the first seven years of operation.
In January 2014, Mineral Commodities Ltd. of Welshpool, Australia, began shipments of zircon and rutile products from its Tormin project in South Africa. The mine life of Tormin at that time was anticipated to be five years with a production rate of 48 kt/a (53,000 stpy) of heavy-mineral concentrates.
Mineral Deposits Ltd.'s Grand Cote project in Senegal began production in March 2014. It is expected to produce 85 kt/a (93.700 stpy) of zircon over a mine life of 20 years. Other development projects included the possible development of the Dubbo Zirconia (DZP) project in New South Wales, Australia. Alkane Resources Ltd. of Victoria Park, Australia, expected to decide by mid-2014 whether or not to develop the project. If developed, the DZP would become a significant source of zirconium, tantalum, yttrium and rare-earth elements and would provide 1 Mt/a (l.million stpy) of ore over a mine life of 70 years.
Zircon prices at yearend 2013 decreased by 33 percent from yearend 2012 prices (Table 2) as producers continued to draw down inventories. Iluka Resources Ltd. of Perth, Australia, reported zircon sales of 370 kt (408,000 st) in 2013, a 73-percent increase from sales in 2012. However, zircon production in 2013 was 285 kt (314.000 st), a 17-percent decrease from 2012 production. Tronox Ltd. of Stamford. CT, reported lower selling prices for zircon, but higher sales volumes, compared with 2012. *
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