The U.S. kaolin market size estimated to be 5,403.6 kilo tons in 2016, is anticipated to grow on account of factors such as increasing construction spending and rising sales of homes. The growing demand for the mineral as a filler and/or pigment in numerous products used in these industries including cement, paints, adhesives, ceramics, rubber, and plastics is expected to fuel growth.
U.S. kaolin market revenue, 2014 - 2025 (USD Billion)
Commercially, there are various kaolin grades available that are suitable to the end-use of the product they are being used. For instance, metakaolin is utilized as a partial replacement of cement. The grade and application are determined by the temperature at which kaolin is heated.
Increasing demand for CFRP and GFRP due to the growth of the energy, aviation and automobile industry is expected to augment the consumption of the mineral as a filler in fibreglass. In addition, increasing demand for cement, ceramic tiles, rubber tires and paints is anticipated to propel the demand for the mineral over the forecast period. Other applications such as plastics, food additives, and cosmetics, are likely to influence the growth of the market positively.
The presence of several minerals including titanium dioxide, calcium carbonate and talc, that possess similar or superior characteristics such as dispersion, brightness, particle size, and whiteness is expected to result in hampering the growth of the market over the forecast period. Nonetheless, growing demand for ultra-fine kaolin in paint and rubber applications is projected to open new opportunities for growth over the forecast period.
Segmentation By Application
• Paints & adhesives
Paper dominated the kaolin market accounting for 42.2% of the overall volume market share in 2015. The segment is expected to witness sluggish growth owing to the reducing demand for paper, in light of growing usage of electronic media for reading.
The presence of substitutes such as calcium carbonate in graphic, coated and thermal papers are expected to result in a reduced demand for kaolin in paper applications over the forecast period. Nonetheless, the revival of the global paper market is projected to have a positive influence on the industry over the forecast period.
Fiberglass is anticipated to be the fastest growing segment at a volume CAGR of 5.8% from 2017 to 2025, on account of its usage as a filler to increase the strength of the fibers. Rising demand for fiberglass in numerous industries including energy generation, automobile, and aviation is expected to augment the demand for the mineral subsequently. Also, the growth of these industries is expected to propel market development over the next few years further.
The U.S. demand for kaolin in ceramics was 1,548.7 kilo tons in 2016. Growing demand for products made from ceramics including sanitaryware, tableware, tiles and insulators is expected to propel growth. The development of the construction sector in the country is expected to drive the demand for ceramic tiles over the forecast period. Moreover, product innovation is expected to propel the growth of the ceramic tiles further, thereby driving the market.
Companies such as Thiele Kaolin, KaMin, BASF and Imerys are some of the key players operating in the U.S. kaolin industry. The market was moderately fragmented in nature owing to the presence of a limited number of players with a strong hold. These companies have integrated their operations from land leasing & mining to logistics, which strengthens their position in the industry.
The industry is marked by merger & acquisition activities, where one of the largest M&A included the acquisition of BASF’s paper hydrous kaolin (PHK) business in November 2015 by Imerys. Part of this business, i.e., Imerys’s ultrafine paper hydrous kaolin business (UPHK) was acquired by KaMin in December 2015.
In addition to M&A, the market is influenced by pricing changes, where companies have reported an increase in their kaolin products to accommodate rising energy and compliance costs. These trends are primarily expected to affect the kaolin market movement over the forecast period. Moreover, the high initial investment is expected to result in high entry barriers for new players.
Research Support Specialist, USA