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  • Kaolin is named after the Chinese locality "Kauling" or “Kao-ling” meaning high ridge. It is the name of a hill near Yaochao Fu, mainland China, where clay was mined centuries ago Kaolin is a clay mineral more correctly known as kaolinite. It is also called china clay. Kaolin is made up of individual crystals that form units termed "booklets" of stacked sheets.
  • It is a soft, earthy, usually white mineral (dioctahedral phyllosilicate clay), produced by the chemical weathering of aluminium silicate minerals like feldspar.In many parts of the world, it is colored pink-orange-red by iron oxide, giving it a distinct rust hue.
  • Commercial grades of kaolin are supplied and transported as dry powder, semi-dry noodle or as liquid slurry. It is used in ceramics, medicine, bricks, coated paper, as a food additive, in toothpaste, as a light diffusing material in white incandescent light bulbs, and in cosmetics.
  • Kaolinite is one of the most common minerals; it is mined, as kaolin, in Brazil, France, Britain, Germany, India, Australia, Japan , the People's Republic of China, and the southeastern U.S. states of Georgia, Florida, and, to a lesser extent, South Carolina.
  • Kaolin deposits are classified as either primary or secondary. Primary kaolins result from residual weathering or hydrothermal alteration (or kaolinisation) of alkali feldspar-rich rocks such as granite or gneiss, whilst secondary kaolins are of sedimentary origin. The mineralogical and chemical composition of kaolin depends on the nature of the parent rock and the type and degree of alteration. Both primary and secondary kaolins occur in South Africa.
  • Kaolin has a range of industrial applications, which are grouped in three main market areas; paper,ceramics and performance minerals. Demand is dominated by the paper industry, which accounts for about 70% of total sales.
  • Each tonne of marketable kaolin recovered typically produces upto 9 tonnes of waste, comprising approximately 4 tonnes of granular waste,2.5 tonnes of rock waste(stent),1.5 tonens of overburden and 1 tonne of micaceous residues.Kaolin itself is used as a sustitute in filler applications.
  • Korea, Indonesia, India and Thailand are also among the other largest current producers of Kaolin. 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.
  • Over the last twenty years, kaolin has faced increasing competition from GCC and, more recently, PCC as a filler in papermaking. In the second half of the 1990s, kaolin producers experienced a downturn in demand in Asia, which had been a major growth area. An increase in the supply of low-cost high-grade kaolin from Brazil put further pressure on suppliers in the USA and Western Europe. Not surprisingly, this sequence of events led to a series of mergers and acquisitions in the industry
  • 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.
  • Studies on the skin and eye irritation potential of kaolin and clay have been performed to improve the knowledge of kaolin and clay with regard to public health.Four different commercial samples of kaolin and clay, selected for their representativeness of the kaolin and clay products found on the EU market, were tested
  • Kaolin has a wide range of applications, e.g. in the ceramic industry, and as filler for paper, cosmetic, paint and pharmaceutical industries. Processed kaolin comes in two different forms: Dry-processed with a fineness of < 600 micron and wet-processed with a fineness of < 100 micron.The production process features the separation of kaolin from quartz and feldspar by dry and wet processing.
  • External factors such as transport costs, toll fees, the strong Rand and cheap, white substitutes (particularly
    fillers) are a real concern and may affect the livelihood of major kaolin producers within the next 2-15 years,
    especially those located more than 150km from their key markets. Further contraction, consolidation and
    strategic acquisitions are expected in the clay industry

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