Regional Trends Reshaping Kaolin Market as it Recovers from Downturn
LONDON, July 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –
In 2012, world consumption of kaolin had recovered to almost 23Mt, according to a new
report on the industry by Roskill, compared to under 20Mt during the global economic
downturn of 2008/09 when demand for kaolin weakened. Consumption is concentrated in Asia
(36%), Europe (30%) and North America (24%), and differences in regional rates of growth
will continue to reshape the industry. By 2017, Asia is forecast to account for 39% of
total demand, followed by Europe (28%) and North America (23%).
The largest market for kaolin is as an extender or filler, mainly in paper and paint
but also in rubber, plastics and adhesives/sealants. Other important markets are in
ceramics, fibreglass and refractories. In addition, significant amounts of unprocessed
kaolin are used in some applications, particularly ceramics. The relative importance of
the two major markets for kaolin is forecast to change, with paper remaining the largest
market but its share falling to 36% in 2017, compared to 39% in 2012, while ceramics grows
to 31%, up from 29%.
Rising demand for paper in Asia positive for filler minerals but less so for kaolin
Asian production of paper grew by an average of over 5%py over the last decade to
become the largest of any region. Production elsewhere grew by under 2%py and declined in
North America. Global paper and board production is forecast to rise by 2.5%py to 2017,
but Roskill expects demand for minerals to rise at a higher rate, especially in regions
such as Asia where pulp costs are high. Much of the rise in demand will be for calcium
carbonate rather than kaolin, however. Demand for kaolin in paper is therefore forecast to
grow by an average of only around 1%py to 2017.
Kaolin’s main application in paint is in architectural products, especially non-gloss
interior wall products. Competition with calcium carbonate has reduced the share of the
market in paint held by kaolin but the amount used has risen because of growth in paint
demand. Chinese consumers are the largest single users of paint and Chinese demand is
forecast to account for over 15% of global demand by 2017 compared to around 10% in 2012.
Global demand for architectural paint is forecast to be highest in Asia (over 5%py) and
lowest in Europe (under 2%py). Demand for kaolin in paint is forecast to average around
3.7%py again because of strong competition from calcium carbonate.
Hydraulic fracking proppants drivinig demand for kaolin in North America
Consumption of kaolin in ceramics was estimated at 6.6Mt in 2012, much of which was
used in whitewares (tiles, sanitaryware and tableware) followed by proppants and catalyst
supports. The largest market for the use of kaolin in ceramics is in Asia, which accounted
for 44% of total consumption but 60% of that used in whitewares. Proppants are the fastest
growing market for kaolin because of the rising importance of fracking in oil and gas
production. Much of this market is in the USA where proppant capacity will be
significantly expanded in the near future.
Consolidation sweeps Europe and North America as paper growth slows
Output of kaolin in Europe has recovered since 2009, despite capacity closures in the
UK, one of the main centres of production within the region. Production in North America
has been declining because of competition with calcium carbonate and imports from Brazil.
This has led to industry consolidation. IMin of the USA bought Huber’s kaolin division to
form KaMin in 2008 and later acquired CADAM of Brazil. Imerys bought PPSA in 2010 followed
by Itatex in 2012 and is now in the processing of buying Goonvean’s kaolin operations in
In Asia, production has been stimulated by rising regional demand for paper and
ceramics and is now the second largest of any region. Output in the Middle East has risen
to supply the expanding regional ceramics industry while in South America, production is
export driven and closely linked to consumption by the global paper market.
Roskill’s analysis shows capacity is currently sufficient to meet expected demand in
most regions meaning few new operations or expansions are expected. The main exception is
China where capacity could increase by at least 0.7Mtpy by the end of 2013. A new
operation will also reach full operating capacity in the USA in 2014. Energy is a
significant proportion of the overall cost of producing kaolin. The fall in US natural gas
prices may make producers in that country more competitive and lead to a rise in exports.
This may have a negative impact on producers elsewhere, particularly those that supply
Note to editors
The report contains 400 pages, 257 tables and 144 figures. It provides a detailed
review of the industry, with subsections on the activities of the leading producing
companies. It also analyses consumption, trade and prices.
For further information on this report, please contact Alison Saxby (
firstname.lastname@example.org). To be added to our press distribution list, please contact
Pedro Palma (email@example.com).
Kaolin: Global Industry Markets and Outlook (13th edition) is available at an
introductory price of GBP3230 / US$5185 / EUR4080 from:
Roskill Information Services Ltd 54 Russell Road London SW19 1QL ENGLAND Tel: +44(0)20-8417-0087 Fax: +44(0)20-8417-1308 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.roskill.com/kaolin
SOURCE Roskill Information Services