Carbonates are the most widely distributed minerals in the Earth’s crust. The crystal structure of many carbonates reflects the trigonal symmetry of the carbonate ion that is composed of carbon atom centrally located in an equilateral triangle of oxygen atoms. The anion group often is found in combination with sodium, calcium, iron, aluminium, uranium and rare earth minerals among others. The carbonates are soft and soluble in hydrochloric acid. There are almost 80 known carbonate minerals among which most of them are rare minerals. The common varieties of carbonate minerals are dolomite, calcite and aragonite among which calcite is the principal mineral of marble and limestone. Dolomite is said to be a replacement of calcite in limestones.Aragonite occurs in calcareous skeletons of shells of organisms. The other common carbonate minerals such as rhodochrosite for manganese, siderite for iron and strontanite for strontium among others serve as metal ores.
The major applications of carbonates minerals are in glasses, light bulbs, ceramic tiles, mugs, plates, paints, plastic wide goods, wooden flooring, salt, detergents, sugar, heating elements among others. The main markets consuming carbonate minerals include abrasives, foundry, absorbents, metallurgy, glass, ceramics, cement, paint, chemicals, paper, plastics, oil well drilling, flame retardants, construction and filtration among others. About 50% of paints are made up of minerals, ceramics contain up to 100% minerals, and a family house contains about 400 tonnes of minerals.
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The major factor driving the carbonate minerals market includes the growing demand from the chemical industry for manufacture of end use products such as cosmetics and personal care products among others.In addition, the increasing use of minerals for cement and paints in the building and construction industry is likely to boost the global market. Rising demand from these sectors ultimately leads to fuel the demand for carbonate minerals in the market.
The factor that would create opportunities for the carbonate minerals in the coming years include construction market in the BRIC and Eastern Europe, the use of minerals in improving the CO2 footprint and antipollution applications.
The prices of minerals in the EU economy are influenced by factors such as source of mineral, grade and end use of the mineral i.e. the quality of mineral, which is described by desired end use, port handling, freight shipping, mineral inspection, warehousing and storage and the relationship of buyer and seller.
The key segments for carbonate industry include North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Rest of the World (RoW). Asia Pacific is expected to be the largest consumer of carbonate minerals owing to the large consumption form China for several applications in the industrial sector. North America and Europe are also expected to fuel demand for carbonate minerals in the near future. Saudi Arabia is one of the key markets that offers opportunities for the growth of carbonate minerals in various areas such as raw material component in cement, glass and ceramic market, as fluxes and binders in steel and metallurgy, as functional ingredients in FGD, waste water treatment, filtration, and as functional ingredients in batteries, fuel cells and oil and gas drilling.
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The key companies profiled for carbonate minerals market include: Excaliber Minerals, Omya, Carmeuse, Lhoist Group, Luzenac Group, Imerys, Northern Mining Co. LLC,BPB (UK), Zemex, Vesuvius, Iluka, Solvay Minerals, Mineral technologies, Regal Mines and Minerals Pvt Ltd., Sidco Minerals and Balaji Minerals & Chemicals among others.
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