Kaolin is primarily composed of the hydrated aluminosilicate clay mineral named kaolinite. The first discovery of this mineral was found in China by the name Kao Lin or Gao Ling. For this reason, people often refer to kaolin as china clay. Kaolin is usually used as a pigment, extender, and filler grade. However, in its raw forms, the mineral is also useful as an essential construction material for industries of catalyst, refractories, as well as cement and fiberglass. Measured by its plasticity and whiteness grade, the usage of kaolin has reached the global market in which export and import activities are carried out. In Indonesia, for instance, the activity of kaolin export is standardized by the regulation of The Indonesian Ministry of Trade. For this reason, the export process from start to finish should comply with particular standards as well as the country’s laws.

Keep on reading to learn more about how kaolin is exported from Indonesia to several other countries across the globe.

The Products 

Types of industry grade kaolin illustration

To support the versatile usage of kaolin, the activity of kaolin export offers different forms of products. Mainly, they are available in kaolin lump or cake, kaolin noodle, and kaolin powder with different degrees of moisture content.

1. Kaolin Lump/Cake

The moisture content of kaolin lump or cake ranges from 33 to 35 percent. It has a low level of ion-exchanging capacity which produces shrink and swelling characteristics. In terms of appearance, this form of kaolin has a distinctive luster and high opacity level. It also contains a high amount of kaolinite mineral as well as thermal properties due to its processing procedure.

Because of its content, the lumpy forms of kaolin can be used in various industries, including ceramic products manufacture and sanitary ware production. You can also use it as a material for filler and floor tiles. 

2. Kaolin Noodle

With a moisture content of 15-20 percent, kaolin noodle is mostly used in the ceramic industry to fill the body or glaze ceramic products. It is offered in the form of small pieces with high fusion points. This form of kaolin also has a high level of physical properties, including water-resistant qualities as well as high plasticity and porosity.

3. Kaolin Powder

Compared to other forms of kaolin, kaolin powder is considered the most popular one. It is processed along with a mixture of several supporting minerals to produce high-quality contents that can be used to make porcelain or applied to paper manufacture.

Kaolin powder has the lowest moisture content, ranging from 1-3 percent. In terms of appearance, it emerges as odorless white to yellowish or grayish powder, depending on its mixture content.

Related: 4 Different Colours of Kaolin Clay, What Are the Differences?

The Packaging

Exporting kaolin requires proper packaging, especially when the export destinations are located on different continents. In general, Indonesian kaolin exporters provide two different options of packaging: polypropylene (PP) woven bags and container bags. 

The use of those packaging options is available according to the customers’ needs. PP woven bags are mostly used to pack a relatively small amount of kaolin powder with the maximum weight of 40 kilograms or kaolin lump and noodle for 50 kilograms.

Meanwhile, the best usage of container bags is to accommodate a larger amount of kaolin products. They can contain 750 kilograms of kaolin powder, 1,100 kilograms of kaolin noodles, and 1,250 kilograms of kaolin lumps.  

Alternatively, the combination of both packaging options can be used to enhance the export’s safety and efficiency. A large container bag can contain 20 small PP woven bags of 40 kg kaolin noodle or 40 kg kaolin powder. 

Related: How Kaolin Commercially Used – Kaolin Packaging Types

The Policy and The Process

In Indonesia, the kaolin export activities should comply with the Indonesian Minister of Trade Regulation concerning the Export Provisions for Processed and Purified Mining Products. The export process can only be conducted when the exporters have possessed an export registration license and an export approval license and an additional export license published by the Ministry of Trade.

Moreover, the export activities of processed and purified mining products such as kaolin can be conducted after the company follows the procedures of verification or technical investigations. Such procedures are performed to ensure that the mining products that will be exported are in accordance with the minimum limits of purifying and processing activities in Indonesia.

In addition to pay for the export duties and taxes, the exporters must also provide the following documents:

  • The Declaration of Customs Export as well as Exports of Goods
  • Export Permit
  • Insurance Certificate
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Packing List and Commercial Invoice
  • Bill of Lading, such as postal or cargo receipts that clarify the transport documents to exports’ destinations

The Value of Kaolin Export in Indonesia

kaolin export illustration

For commercial purposes, the value of kaolin is measured based on its degree of fineness and whiteness. However, those variables can be controlled by optimizing the size of a particle when kaolin is processed after mining. This process influences several aspects of kaolin, including its strength, color, plasticity, fluidity, abrasiveness, and ease of dispersion. They are the main properties that make kaolin different from other types of kaolinitic clays. 

Kaolin is used for a wide range of industrial applications which are classified into three primary market areas: paper, ceramics, and other specialty uses, such as filler, coating medium, or backing materials. Among the industrial uses of kaolin, the ceramics industry is considered the most important sector, reaching 50 percent of total sales in the global market.

In Indonesia, the export activity of kaolin is listed as the commodity group 2507, which includes the term “kaolin and other kaolinic clays, whether or not calcined”. At the end of the 2020 fiscal year, kaolin export from Indonesia to other countries reach USD7.87 million in total, which went up by 4.29 percent from the previous year. It also made up 0.004 percent of the country’s cumulative export activities of other goods and commodities. 

In conclusion, the activity of kaolin export is considered valuable in various parts around the world, particularly Indonesia. Throughout its process, this activity involves a number of important aspects, abides with particular trade laws and regulations, as well as follows some specific standards. All in all, those connected aspects aim to provide the best quality of kaolin that can be used for different purposes in its export destinations.