The global vermiculite mining market is expected to grow from around $247 million in 2019 to $257 million in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.3%. The vermiculite market in the forecast period will be driven by the growth in the construction and agriculture industries, which are the major end-users of vermiculite. The global construction market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 10.6% through 2022. The construction markets are expected to grow rapidly in developing countries of Asia-Pacific, South America, and Africa, owing to the rapid economic growth and increasing investments in these regions. The demand for vermiculite is increasing in the agricultural sector owing to its ability to condition the soil.
In addition, there is an increasing demand for vermiculite as a replacement for asbestos in brake lining used by the automobile sector. Asbestos, as the major material used in brake lining materials, holds health risks associated with diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Considering the health risks of using asbestosis in brake linings, automotive manufacturers have started using vermiculite as a heat insulation material. Vermiculite, similarly to asbestos, has ample physical, mechanical and tribological properties. Continuous substitution of asbestos with vermiculite in the automotive industry is expected to drive the growth of the global vermiculite mining market.
The increasing exploration of vermiculite at new vermiculite sites is also expected to support the vermiculite mining market going forward. In the 1990s, the government of Turkey explored a new vermiculite site with estimated reserves of 2.8 million tonnes of high-quality vermiculite and 2.5 million tonnes of lower quality vermiculite. The site started operating in 2017-2018 in Karakoc, Tukey, owned by Organic Mining (Organic Madencilick). The vermiculite mine in Karakoc, Turkey, is expected to produce 5,000 tonnes of vermiculite a year going forward. The exploration and launch of new vermiculite mining sites such as Organic Mining’s in Karakoc, Turkey, will drive the vermiculite supply, thus increasing the potential of the vermiculite mining market globally.
Exploration and development of vermiculite deposits containing medium, large, and premium (coarser) grades (mostly in China and South Africa) are likely to continue due to the higher demand for these larger grades. During the next several years, operations in Brazil and the USA are expected to help maintain regional and global supplies of fine, superfine, and micron grades of vermiculite. The expected return to sustained production at the Namekara Vermiculite Mine in Uganda and a continuance of production from the Shawa Mine in Zimbabwe, which has been affected by political instability in recent years, may provide some of the needed supplies of coarser grades in the market. Owing to the continuing significant demand and tight supplies for coarser grades of vermiculite, prices for coarser grades may increase slightly going forward. With oversupplies of the finer grades expected to continue, prices for those grades are expected to remain unchanged or decrease slightly.