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Information @ a Glance


  • Clay is a naturally occurring material composed primarily of fine-grained minerals, which show plasticity through a variable range of water content, and which can be hardened when dried and/or fired.
  • Clay deposits are typically associated with very low energy depositional environments such as large lake and marine deposits.
  • Clays are distinguished from other fine-grained soils by various differences in composition.
  • The term clay refers to a number of earthy materials that are composed of minerals rich in alumina, silica and water.
  • Clays can also contain other materials such as iron oxide (rust), silica, and rock fragments.


  • Geosynthetic clay liners (GCLs) represent a relatively new technology (developed in 1986) currently gaining acceptance as a barrier system in municipal solid waste landfill applications.
  • The technology of clays in the field of ceramics, therefor, includes consideration of both the room-temperature properties and the behavior at elevated temperatures.


  • Most domestic clay is mined by open-pit methods using various types of equipment, including draglines, power shovels, front-end loaders, backhoes, scraper-loaders, and shale planers.
  • Processing generally begins with primary crushing and stockpiling. The material then is ground and screened.
  • Clays usually are transported by truck from the mine to the processing plants, many of which are located at or near the mine.


  • Clays are used in the ceramics industries largely because of their contribution to the moulding and drying properties of the wares being produced; many clays, such as the flint clays, are used because of favorable behavior during firing or because they produce favorable properties in fired ware.


  • The major sources of imported clay were Brazil (kaolin), Greece (bentonite), Mexico (activated clay), and the United Kingdom (kaolin).
  • Major markets for exported clays, by descending order of tonnage, were Canada (bentonite and kaolin), Japan (bentonite and kaolin), Mexico (kaolin), Finland (kaolin), the Netherlands (bentonite and kaolin), China (kaolin), and Taiwan (kaolin).

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