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Information @ a Glance

General

  • The mica group of sheet silicate minerals includes several closely related materials having highly perfect basal cleavage.
  • All are monoclinic with a tendency towards pseudo-hexagonal crystals and are similar in chemical composition.
  • The highly perfect cleavage, which is the most prominent characteristic of mica, is explained by the hexagonal sheet-like arrangement of its atoms.
  • The word "mica" is thought to be derived from the Latin word micare, to glitter, in reference to the brilliant appearance of this mineral (especially when in small scales). Mica has a lamellar form with a shiny luster.

Application

  • The largest domestic use of dry-ground mica was in joint compound for filling and finishing seams and blemishes in gypsum wallboard.
  • The plastics industry uses dry-ground mica as an extender and filler, especially in parts for automobiles for lightweight insulation to suppress sound and vibration.
  • Ground mica is used as a pigment extender that also facilitates suspension, reduces chalking, prevents shrinking and shearing of the paint film, increases resistance of the paint film to water penetration and weathering, and brightens the tone of colored pigments.

Market

  • Demand for mica decreased in U.S. and foreign markets in 1998. Foreign trade was mixed, with the value of U.S. exports of mica decreasing by 8.3% to $16.3 million as the quantity 51.4 MICAŚ1998 increased by 1.5% to 9,335 tons.
  • Imports of mica declined with the value of U.S. imports of mica decreasing by 0.84% to $24.7 million and the quantity decreasing by 6.3% to 27,200 tons .
  • Demand for block mica is expected to grow slowly through the end of the century as demand increases in a few specialty markets.
  • Markets for dry-ground mica are forecast to grow by as much as 3% per year through the year 2005, unless interest rates and prices rise sufficiently to slow demand for new housing and automobiles.

Report

  • Industry stocks of muscovite mica block (ruby and nonruby) increased to 19.3 tons in 1999 from 16.8 tons in 1998. Industry stocks of muscovite and phlogopite mica splittings decreased to 411 tons at yearend 1999 from 424 tons at yearend 1998.
  •  In industrialised countries growth rates are unlikely to exceed 2% -3% pa. In industrialising countries the prospects for higher rates of growth in these industries are good for the short to medium term.
     
  • World sheet mica capacity was estimated at 16,286 tpa in 1995, with the three major producers, India, Russia and China, jointly accounting for 94% of the total.
  • China's exports of mica have increased during the past 5 years from 25,000t in 1990 to an estimated 44,000t in 1995. Recorded exports by Asian countries exceeded 80,000t in both 1994 and 1995.

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