Kaolin - Production and Consumption in Asia

Topics Covered

Background

Asian Kaolin Consumption

Kaolin

Kaolin Production in the Asian Region

Kaolin Imports into the Asian Region

Production of Kaolin in Asia

China

South Korea

Taiwan

Malaysia

Japan

Thailand

Indonesia

The Philippines

Australia

Kaolin Imports into the Asian Region

Kaolin Usage

Opportunities for Producers

Market Demands

Producer Trends

Trends within Asia

China, the Focus of the Future

Australian Calcined Kaolin Available Soon.

Background

Kaolin resources within Asia are potentially capable of supplying much of the regional demand although imports from USA, Brazil and potentially Australia will remain very important for some years to come. Focusing on higher value kaolins it is suggested that some sectors offering market opportunities include the following:

         Japan’s large papermaking industry especially for high-end coating clays and potentially lightweight newsprint-filler calcined clays.

         China’s high growth in papermaking especially following the commissioning of new facilities of APP over the past year or two.

         China’s fibreglass industry as Taiwan moves some major operations across the strait.

         Advanced automotive catalyst honeycomb substrate markets in Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

         White-firing, low impurity clays for tableware especially growth in Thailand and Indonesia. Also white-firing clays for use in engobes, glaze and as matrix in granito tiles.

         Paint and coated-rubber grade kaolins, especially calcined kaolin as partial replacement of Ti02.

Some of these areas of opportunity will be assisted strongly by various joint ventures between leading producers from USA and Europe.  With regional deposits being opened up and leading equipment along with cutting edge processing technologies.  It is evidence enough that if the deposits of suitable kaolins already well known are developed, then market entry can be rather rapid as has been the case with the Brazilian deposits, having become major exporters to USA and in fact this region.

Asian Kaolin Consumption

In Table 1, an estimated 16% of the world’s 38 million kaolin consumption occurring in the countries listed it can be seen that kaolin is significant to the regional economies. Papermaking in Japan is obviously the largest sector of kaolin consumption in the region with around 1 million tonnes per year. It represents almost 25% of the tonnes but close to and estimated 60% of the total value of the kaolin used in the region. Other major fillers for the paper industry there include GCC approaching 400,000 tonnes, PCC and talc both around 300,000 tonnes each per year. Japan buys 26% of USA exports estimated in excess of US$264 million.

Table 1. Indicative kaolin movements into selected Asian countries (in thousands of tonnes)

Source

Destination

Total tonnes

China

Japan

Taiwan

Korea

Indo-nesia

Thailand

Malay-sia

Phili-ppines

Sing-apore

USA

101

957

161

150

73

19

31

7

1.8

1,500

UK

3.6

28

2.9

5.7

8.6

9.8

4.6

1.3

1.6

66

China/HK

-

59

562**

57

13

5.8

27

37

-

760

Indonesia

1.1

83

78

6.3

-

11

1.4

2.5

-

100

Malaysia

5

1.8

20

2.7

-

11

-

1.3

5.4

47

Japan

 

-

3.5

0.4

6.3

0.8

0.1

0.2

0.1

11

Brazil

31

228

3.6

28

0.8

-

-

-

-

291

Thailand

0.6

-

-

 

0.9

-

344

6

1.2

353

Australia

0.2

5

0.3

0.2

12

1.3

0.1

-

0.1

19

Korea

-

16

4.5

-

-

-

-

0.1

-

21

New Zealand

2

4

1

2.6

0.6

1

0.1

0.2

-

11.5

Subtotal

145

1,382

837

253

115

59

408

56

10

3,264

Other sources

37.5

18.3

2.7

7.1

19

1

99

3.4

1

189

Total Imports

182

1,400

834

260

134

60

507

59

11

3,440

Local Production

1,500*

90

70

600

350

350

177

34

0

3,551

Exports

400

3.3

4.6

16

90

15

263

-

1.5

793

Apparent consumption

1,282

1,486

900

844

394

388

421

93

9.5

6,200

Notes: source: Latest available data from UN, DFAT, and Stratum estimates. Totals may not add due to rounding. Korean Production listed by some sources as 2.6 million tonnes but washed usable portion is likely to be much less. Singapore consumption seems high unless for cement manufacture and it is likely some is re-exported but not shown in data available. China production and consumption is most difficult to define due to large number of operations reported and some debate between kaolin and ballclay production totals. Major suppliers to Japan represent all the leading producers including: Engelhard ~300kt, Imerys ~340kt, Huber ~180kt, Brazilian sources~230 kt, and Thiele ~65kt. China kaolin production estimated at between 1,100 kt and1,500 kt with estimated 21 million tonnes of all clay types. ** largely Guangdong black ballclay for ceramic tiles and sanitaryware, reduced from ~900kt in 1995. E.O.E.

Kaolin

Kaolin is fine white clay mainly composed of kaolinite but other related minerals such as halloysite are also considered. Kaolin is formed through the alteration or kaolinization of feldspar-rich parent rocks by weathering or hydrothermal processes. The ultimate breakdown product of most rock-forming minerals is kaolinite.

Kaolin Production in the Asian Region

At times the trade statistics include ballclay in the kaolin category, for various reasons, making exact tonnages and prices, of what our industry calls kaolin, somewhat difficult.  In excess of an estimated 5 million tonnes of kaolin is produced in the Region from India in the west through to China, Korea and Japan in the Far East. China is obviously one of the major producers of kaolin with an estimated one and a half million tonnes mined annually from more than 600 mines.

Korea, Indonesia, India and Thailand are also among the other largest current producers of Kaolin. Several of the regional economies are only now recovering from the 1997-8 recession, but the strength of China’s performance has in some ways made up the deficit in total output as well as consumption with the incredible construction-led growth since 1990.

Kaolin Imports into the Asian Region

Apart from regional production of 3.5 million tonnes indicated in table 1, close to an equal tonnage of 3.4 million tonnes is imported into the region. As indicated, almost 1.8 million tonnes of these imports are coming from USA and Brazil. The major suppliers of this kaolin appear to be Engelhard, Imerys, Cadam, RCC, Para Pigmentos, Huber, and Thiele, these being among the leaders in world kaolin production.

Estimates of China’s kaolin production vary greatly, but an estimated 1.4-1.5 million tonnes seems not unreasonable considering the 600 identified kaolin locations (Chinese Industrial Minerals, IMIL). It has been suggested that all clays produced in China, including ballclay, which accounts for a major part of ceramic raw materials, is in the order of 20 million tonnes per year (Almanac of China’s Building materials). Today we are concerning ourselves with higher value kaolins and thus imported kaolin is certainly included.

Japan is outstandingly important in use of high value kaolins, and an estimated 85% of imports used in the papermaking industry. Fibreglass manufacturing in Taiwan has been also a very important consumer of imported kaolin, and it is only now that this is being stemmed, mainly by re-location of several major fibreglass producers to China. This trend of industrial manufacturing towards China, based on huge growth in demand for more than a decade and looking like continuing strongly is part of a “sea change” in kaolin supply and demand in the region.

Production of Kaolin in Asia

The production of Kaolins in the various Asian countries is summarized in the tables below.

China

Table 2. Production of Kaolin in China

Producer and Location

Est. Prod. kt/yr

Major end uses

Fujian Jizhou Longyan Kaolin Co
Longyan, Fujian

300 raw
60 washed

Ceramics especially white-ware including tableware. Developing for papermaking.

Guangdong Chaozhou Feitianyan China Clay Mine
Chaozhou, Guangdong

300 raw
10 washed

Ceramics

Zhanjiaang Kelin Kaolin Co
Zhanjiaang, Guangdong

154

Ceramics 15%, Filler 26%
Other 59%

China Kaolin Clay Co
Suzhou, Jiangsu

120

Ceramics and paper

Hunan Jiepai Ceramic Works
Henyang, Hunan

100

Ceramics

Hunan Hengshan China Clay Mine

70

Ceramics

Hunan Liling China Clay Mine
Liling, Hunan

50

Ceramics

Maoming Shange China Clay Mine
Maoming, Guangdong

60

Paper coating

Wuxian Qingshan Clay Mine
Wuxian Jiangsu

15

Ceramics

Xuzhou Coalmining Admin Kaolin Co. Xuzhou, Jiangsu

8

Paper 62%, Calcined 37%

Inner Mongolia Sanbao Zunger Kaolin Co
Jungar, Inner Mongolia

20 current
50 future

3kt calcined kaolin for paper and paint

Shanxi Xidi Fine Chemical Co
Datong, Shanxi

5-6

Calcined as TiO2 replacement in paint, plastic and paper

Source: IMIL, Stratum estimates

South Korea

Table 3. Production of Kaolin in South Korea

Producer and Location

Est. Prod. kt/yr

Major end uses

Daluyong Kaolin Company
Ha Dong, Danseong, Sanchoog.

110

Ceramics, refractories

Dae Myung Chemical

60

Ceramics

Taiwan

Table 4. Production of Kaolin in Taiwan

Producer and Location

Est. Prod kt/yr

Major end uses

Li Cheng Chemical Co

15

Kaolin usually as a co-product of other minerals including silica sand, limestone, talc and bentonite etc

Meilin White Stone Chemical Co

22

Ming One Industry Co

18

Yui Yuan Hsing Chemical Ind Co

14

Malaysia

Table 5. Production of Kaolin in Malaysia

Producer and Location

Est. prod. kt/yr

Major end uses

AKI Sdn Bhd, Tapah, Bidor

80

Paper filler, paint, rubber, palm oil processing and ceramics. Including exports to Japan, Taiwan etc

Kaolin Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Tapah

24

Paper filler, paint and ceramics

Tinex Kaolin Sdn Bhd, Tapah

40

Paper filler, paint and ceramics including exports

Japan

Table 6. Production of Kaolin in Japan

Producer and Location

Est. Prod.kt/yr

Major end uses

Inagaki Clay Mining Company
and Universal Clay JV.
Tajimi, Gifu prefecture

100

Mainly kibushi and Gairomi clays detrital kaolin for ceramics including roof tiles. Sand is co-product.

Izumiyama Kaolin Arita

10

Porcelain ceramics

Note: Mitsubishi Corporation owns ~20% of Para Pigmentos Kaolin in Brazil- paper kaolin and Mitsui Corporation own ~40% of CADAM Kaolin operations in Brazil a major producer of paper kaolin

Thailand

Table 7. Production of Kaolin in Thailand

Producer and Location

Est. Prod. kt/yr

Major end uses

MRD / Imerys JV
Ranong, Southern Thailand

120 est.

Paper filler, ceramics, paint

Naratiwat Kaolin Mines

50

Ceramics and paint

Sukhothai Kaolin Co

45

Ceramics and paint

Uttaradit Kaolin

40

Paint filler

Prajeen Kaolin

38

Ceramics and paint

Belacut Clay Co

25

Mainly for cordierite refractories

Advanced Minerals Asia (AMA/WBB)

Wang Nua, Mae Thai in Lampung Area.

100

Ballclays rather than kaolin but very important raw material base for ceramics

Source: Stratum estimates

Indonesia

Table 8. Production of Kaolin in Indonesia

Producer and Location

Est. Prod. kt/yr

Major end uses

PT Alter Abadi Belitung Island

120-150

Paper filler, paint, ceramics
Includes exports to Japan, Taiwan etc

PT Simaskaubelind Belitung Island

35-50

 

PT Bangra Kaolin Industri Indonesia
Kec. Belinyu, Banka Island

35-40

Paper filler, paint, ceramics

PT Daya Waruna Indragiri
Pekanbaru, Riau

40-50

Paper filler, paint, ceramics

PT Fajar Perdana Permai
Sungai Liat, Bangka

30

Paper filler, paint, ceramics

PT Multi Mascot
Minahasa, Nth Sulawesi

20

Paper filler, paint, ceramics

PT Binakaolin Anugrah

18

Paper filler, paint, ceramics

PT Nipsea Martapura

45

Paint, paper, ceramics

Sources: Roskill, IMIL, Stratum estimates, company data.

The Philippines

Table 9. Production of Kaolin in The Philippines

Producer and Location

Est. Prod. kt/yr

Major end uses

Simpcor (Saniwares div.)
Legaspi and others, Luzon.

17

Ceramics

Sources: Stratum estimates

Australia

Table 10. Production of Kaolin in Australasia

Producer and Location

Est. Prod. kt/yr

Major end uses

Imerys Australia.
Pittong, Victoria

55-60

Mainly paper, paint, ceramics

Kingaroy Kaolin Co

18

Mainly ceramics, paint, rubber and cement.

Unimin Australia
Gulgong NSW

25-30

Ceramics, refractory, paint, rubber

Imerys NZ (NZ China Clays)

20-24

Halloysite for fine tableware ceramics and advanced materials. Recent volumes affected by regional downturn especially in Japan and Korea.

Sources: Roskill, IMIL, Stratum estimates, company data.

Kaolin Imports into the Asian Region

Table 11. Selected key movements of Kaolin into/around the Region by source.

Key suppliers

Imports tonnes 2000

Major uses

USA

Engelhard, Imerys, Huber and Thiele

1,500

Paper-coating and filler, fiberglass

Brazil

Cadam, Para Pigmentos

291

Paper filler

UK

Imerys (ECC), Goonvean

66

Tableware, whiteware, art

NZ

NZ China Clay (Imerys)

12

Quality tableware, fine ceramics, catalytic substrate

China

Longyan kaolins from Fujian Province

60

Ceramic glaze, tableware

Total

 

1,929

 

Sources: Roskill, IMIL, Stratum estimates, company data.

Kaolin Usage

Table 12. Kaolin Estimated use by sector

Sector

Estimated kaolin k/tonnes by region and end use

Typical pricing
$US /tonne

Estimated growth trend 2001-2010 %

Paper

1,755 *

170-390
av. ~ 235

2-3**

Ceramics

3,245

30-500

5

Catalysts

35

175-250

6

Paint

220

140-260

8

Plastic

27

350

5

Rubber

200

120-350

6

Cement

200***

30-200

4

Other

518

20-500

4

Total

6,200

 

 

Source: Stratum estimates.  Note *980-1,000kt of this in Japan, **Growth reduced by use of PCC/GCC,  ***Includes Al2O3 source/additive. pyrophyllite is also used especially in Thailand and Sth.Korea

Opportunities for Producers

Many opportunities exist for mineral pigment producers in the Asian region. The challenge seems to be in the finding of a suitable regional kaolin resource, proving it up and perhaps establishing a joint venture with the owner of the land involved. Next is the confirmation of regional specifications needed to be able to refine the products so that these are suitable for consumption by existing and future customers. This is a major challenge as the buyers are often used to paying far lower prices than the new operation will be asking. However when the buyers see the benefit of reduced rejects, in the case of ceramics, and higher value products for the auto industry, and then the value will be accepted.

Market Demands

Market demands sometimes impact the kaolin industry adversely. For example, the majority of paper manufacturers use high-speed blade coaters. To improve the efficiency and throughput rates of these machines, as manufacturers are constantly seeking to increase operating speeds. This places a demand on the kaolin industry to provide kaolin products with rheological properties compatible with higher machine speeds. Since there is no technology for lowering the viscosity of kaolin, rheology can only be improved by blending ores, which has its economic and inherent limitations. Controlling rheological properties by blending crude ores or finished products is costly because it requires additional systems, labour and energy. In addition, the producer must operate and maintain more than one mine. 

Producer Trends

Businesses that sell into highly competitive markets, where profits are constantly squeezed, do not generally produce technological innovations. Although still suffering from low margins and thin profits, kaolin producers have been innovative, gaining better control of their costs and improving product quality while creatively responding to market demands with higher brightness products. They have developed the technologies for the production of affordably priced high quality products and are taking a long-term optimistic view of the market place. The kaolin industry will continue to work in a partnership with the paper industry in identifying new product needs and developing new products to fill these needs.

Trends within Asia

The past two decades have witnessed the exhaustion of many natural resources in Europe and North America, along with mature low-growth markets.  In addition high labour costs and increasing environmental constraints have been imposed.  This has encouraged interest and investment in the resources in the less populated and/or less developed nations.   In terms of clay resources, those within Asia are potentially capable of supplying both the indigenous and export markets, with particular reference to the Asian market where significant industrial growth is predicted to occur during the first half of the 21st Century, with China leading the way.

China, the Focus of the Future

Japan is outstandingly important in use of high value kaolins, and around 85% of this is used in the papermaking industry in Japan. Fibreglass manufacturing in Taiwan has been also a very important consumer of imported kaolin, and it is only now that this is being stemmed, mainly by re-location of several major fibreglass producers to China. This trend of industrial manufacturing towards China, based on huge growth in demand for more than a decade and looking like continuing strongly is part of a “sea change” in kaolin supply and demand in the region.

Australian Calcined Kaolin Available Soon.

Skardon River Kaolin is currently preparing their operation in Northern Queensland. Once production is underway, in late 2001-early 2002, there will be production of both hydrous and calcined clay under the brand of Microbrite® kaolins. The calcined grades in particular are of high interest to paper and paint producers throughout the region, as well as metakaolin for cement additive use. The hydrous grades appear to have useful properties for ceramics.

 

Primary author: Murray Lines

For more information on this source please visit Stratum Resources.

 

Date Added: Nov 9, 2001 | Updated: Jun 11, 2013
Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback
Submit