Clay is a group of fine-grained hydrous crystalline minerals (mainly comprises silica, alumina, and water) found naturally in the earth. These minerals consist of silica, alumina, and water and additionally substantial quantities of iron, alkalis, and alkaline earth metals. Clay minerals are broadly classified into two groups, specialty and kaolinitic clays. Specialty clay includes bentonite whereas kaolinitic clays include fire clay, ball clay, kaolin and stoneware clay. These minerals occur with calcite, quartz, dolomite, gypsum, feldspar and iron oxide.
World bentonite, fuller's earth and allied clays market is forecast to exceed 164 million metric tons by 2010, as stated by Global Industry Analysts, Inc. Europe, United States, and Latin America represent the leading clay markets. However, backed by excellent growth from major markets including Australia, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, and Thailand, Asia-Pacific market is forecast to post fastest growth over the coming years.
Major clay product segments analyzed in the report include bentonite, kaolin, fuller's earth and other allied clays. Other clays market comprising ball, structural, fire, white, smectite, specialty, refractory, siliceous, and organophilic clays is the largest, projected to account for nearly 62% of total market by 2010. Kaolin represents the second largest market, with sales estimated to be 35 million metric tons in 2007.
Calcium Carbonate is all set to take over Kaolin's market share. Calcium Carbonate, classified into Ground Calcium Carbonate (GCC) and Precipitated Calcium Carbonate (PCC), is proving to be a tough contender for Kaolin and other traditional products. Paper Industry, which forms the major end use industry for Kaolin, is moving towards Calcium Carbonate due to the latter's high adaptability to alkaline technology and cost effectiveness. Paper Industry is expected to justify the high growth rates for GCC and PCC. Calcium Carbonate, with such high growth potential is likely to sound a death knell for Kaolin and other traditional products such as Titanium dioxide. Several plants manufacturing Kaolin and various other traditional products in North America are on the verge of closure, owing to reduced usage in paper manufacturing and eroding profitability.
Global drilling rig count market is expected to spur growth in bentonite and related clays market. Drilling rig count market is influenced by the amount of fossil fuels exploration, which in turn is fuelled by energy prices. The usage of Bentonite for manufacturing of Foundry Sands and demand for Bentonite for iron ore pelletisation is expected to increase in the near future.
Leading players in the global bentonite, fuller's earth and allied clays market include Amberger Kaolinwerke GmbH, Amcol International Corp., Ashapura Minechem Ltd., BPM Minerals LLC, Black Hills Bentonite, LLC, Caulim Da Amazonia SA, Cimbar Performance Minerals, IMERYS Pigments & Additives Group, Sedlecký Kaolin, S&B Industrial Minerals S.A., Thiele Kaolin Co., TOLSA Group, and Unimin Corp.
The report titled "Bentonite, Fuller's Earth and Allied Clays: A Global Strategic Business Report" published by Global Industry Analysts, Inc., has detailed market analyses and coverage of all the major markets, including the US, Canada, Japan, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Rest of World. The report provides major industry trends, issues, applications, and production statistics in the bentonite, fuller's earth and allied clays market. Market size estimates and projections have been presented over the years 2000 through 2010, while long-term analytical projections have been provided over the years 2011-2015.