Market Trends

The use of minerals as additives is widespread in today's industrial market. Historically, mineral fillers were used to extend other raw materials as a cost-saving measure. Today, specific materials are developed and selected for the functional and aesthetic properties they impart to the finished product. In other cases, particular minerals act as agents to speed or facilitate the manufacture of other goods. The markets in which minerals are used, and the reasons for their use, are changing and expanding all the time.

According to a study published by Business Communications Co., Inc., Norwalk, Conn., RGB-246: Minerals as Additives and Functional Ingredients, the total annual consumption of the minerals studied in this report is estimated to be nearly 181 million metric tons. About 69% of that figure, or 125 million metric tons, are used as additive minerals. The market for minerals is expected to rise at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 1.6% during the five-year forecast period to reach 195 million metric tons by 2005. The amount used as additives will increase at an AAGR of 1.7%, thereby exceeding 136 million metric tons by 2005.

Focus Is on 13 Market Segments

The consumption of each mineral used as additives is detailed by market segment. The 13 market segments chosen for analysis are: abrasive products, adhesives and sealants, agriculture, ceramics, chemicals, construction materials, friction products, glass, miscellaneous and metal products, paint and coatings, paper and related products, plastic and rubber, and textiles. These markets combined account for more than 125 million tons of mineral use per year in the United States.

Another criterion of analysis presented in this report is based on the functions that additive minerals serve. Six distinct functions are selected: abrasion, absorbent, body, coating, filler and flame-retardant. Most of these functions are demonstrated in products from at least two of the different market segments. For example, the coating function includes minerals used in paints and in paper coating.

Several of the market categories use minerals as the main constituent or "body" of their product, such as silica use in glass, or clay use in ceramics. It is recognized that this use does not meet the strictest definition of the term "additive." However, these figures are included in the report for the sake of continuity. Mineral use that does not fall into the additive definition encompasses materials to facilitate manufacturing or other processes.