Ceramics will comprise 11.7% of Kaolin products and 1.0% of all products produced by the Project at full production levels.
In the manufacture of ceramics, consistency of particle size and plasticity are of the greatest importance. Kaolin is the prime ingredient in a wide range of traditional products, such as floor and wall tiles, tableware, sanitaryware, and electrical porcelain. The white colour after firing of kaolin, its availability, and low price make kaolin a prime ingredient in ceramic products.
The main components of a typical whiteware mix are "white-firing" kaolin, ball clay, silica (as a filler), and a flux (usually feldspar).
A large supplier of high quality ceramic kaolin is the Gulgong deposit, but it is becoming uneconomical to mine due to the increasing costs resulting from stripping large overburden ratios.
Currently Australia consumes 25,000 tpa of kaolin for the manufacture of ceramic products. In Sydney, Caroma is the largest manufacturer of whiteware ceramics and uses approximately 5,000 tpa (3,000 tpa in Sydney, 2,000 tpa in Melbourne). Floor and wall tiles are mainly produced in Victoria, while in NSW, Ceramic Industries, a new player, has set up a very large scale facility for the production of tiles for export in its Rutherford plant, near Newcastle. A WA tableware manufacturer has also been targeted as an end used of SCM ceramic kaolin.
It is expected that with the depletion of the Gulgong resources, and the entry of new players, SCM will readily attain its goal for sale of ceramics-quality kaolin, in a price range of AUD170-300/tonne.
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