Kaolin in Australia is one of the lesser-known valuable minerals that best represents the status ‘silent achiever’. This white clay is crucial in various manufacturers, including pesticide manufacturers, cosmetics, paints and coatings, etc. While Australia only contributes less than 1% of the entire global production, the country’s kaolin is no less valuable.
Kaolin Market Trends in Australia
Australia cannot be regarded as one of the leading kaolin producers in the world. The country is not even on the top 10 list of kaolin exporting countries. However, the kaolin market in Australia is unquestionably growing despite experiencing a demand shrink of around -8.5% in 2021.
In terms of total consumption, Australia showed a noticeable growth over the course of 2012 to 2021. During the previous nine years, kaolin value in the country soared at a +3.0% average yearly rate.
Despite that, the trend pattern instead showed that there were some observable changes. As per data from 2021, kaolin consumption in Australia grew by around +15.1%, higher than the recorded data from 2019. However, consumption between 2016 and 2021 remained at a considerably lower level.
Kaolin Industrial Uses in Australia
Kaolin is a versatile non-metallic mineral used in various industries. These include ceramic, paint, plastics, rubber, pharmacognosy, fertilizers, cosmetics, and many other manufacturers. Kaolin is one of the primary components of the following industries in Australia:
1. Beauty and Personal Care Industries
In 2023, Australia’s beauty and personal care sector will generate $1.59 billion in revenue. Some manufacturers in this category have started incorporating kaolin into their products. This is primarily due to the mineral’s cleansing properties itself. It helps remove impurities and dirt that may lead to skin issues, such as acne breakouts.
2. Cement Industries
Australia has manufactured its own cement for more than 120 years. This has also supported the development of the country’s infrastructure landscape and commercial and residential buildings. Kaolin is an essential component used by cement manufacturers. Environmentalists believe the material has solid structural edges and is reasonably more ecologically benign.
Aside from being used in personal care and cement industries, kaolin in Australia has also been trialled as some kind of a carrier in certain pesticide products. The properties of this white mineral work well in preventing insects from getting through the plant tissue.
Kaolin Deposits in Australia
Kaolin deposits can be found in Western Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria. The development of the mining infrastructures in NSW and WA has been slowed by the need for more suitable water quality, despite the fact that the two states have extensive kaolin resources.
In 2003, around 21,000 tons of Australian kaolin were produced in NSW. However, the annual production in recent years has increased to approximately 40.000 tons. Meanwhile, Western Australia is now considered home to the world’s most significant remaining premium quality kaolin deposit.
The mining company in WA employs particular processing technology to produce 20,000 tons of kaolin per year. The quality of the mineral is unlike that of other deposits. Western Australian kaolin is relatively brighter compared to other kaolinite products.
Kaolin Trade Activities in Australia
As per data published by IndexBox, China (1,600 tons) was Australia’s top country destination for its kaolin exports, making up 48% of exports. Australia also sent 1,800 tons of kaolin per year to Japan, making the country the second-largest market. Thailand (1,200 tons), with a share of 9%, came in third place in this list.
As for kaolin imports to Australia, the purchases in 2021 increased by approximately 17% higher than the previous three years. However, the trend pattern for kaolin imports as a whole was relatively flat.
The Future of Australian Kaolin
Australia’s kaolin production is now roughly at 260,000 tons, primarily used to meet the demand of domestic markets. Meanwhile, Australia is one of the Asia Pacific countries, making up 37.6% of the global kaolin volume share. In 2025, the region is expected to see massive kaolin uses along with rapidly expanding industries, such as ceramics and fiberglass.
The demand for kaolin in Australia by emerging high-tech industries (lithium-ion batteries and glass goods) will also potentially increase. In order to meet the growing demand, the Australian government should go hand in hand with state and private enterprises. This involves collaborating with a kaolin importer to allow the government to better know how to produce quality kaolin that can increase domestic and international markets for kaolin.