Who is Specialty Minerals and What do we do?
Specialty Minerals Inc. (SMI) is an international producer of high performance minerals: talc, precipitated calcium carbonate, ground calcium carbonate, lime, and dolomite. Among the wide variety of applications for our products are paper, plastics, adhesives and sealants, paint, ink, pharmaceuticals, food fortification, nutritional supplements, specialty ceramics, inks, building products, agriculture, and many others.
We’ve been active in the mining and manufacture of minerals for over 150 years – our Adams, Massachusetts, and U.S. operation began mining limestone in 1853. Specialty Minerals is the world’s largest manufacturer of precipitated calcium carbonates (PCCs), with an output of over 3.5 million tons of PCC each year. The company that is now our plant in the United Kingdom was the world’s first precipitated calcium carbonate manufacturer, with commercial PCC production starting in 1898. SMI PCC manufacturing in the U.S. began in 1936, and Nano PCCs have been produced for over 25 years. Specialty Minerals PCC plants are in 17 countries around the world.
New products and technology development have been key to our success, with Specialty Minerals having grown to over $US 662 million sales in 2012, of which $US 546 million were PCC and $US 116 million were processed minerals. SMI Research and Technology Centers are located in Bethlehem and Easton, Pennsylvania in the U.S., and in Suzhou, China and are equipped with many types of advanced instruments and equipment. To support the industries we serve, our applications labs are staffed with industry experts. Among the fully equipped applications labs are those for paper filling and coating; plastic extrusion, injection molding and film blowing; sealants, and healthcare tableting and food development.
Our Parent – Minerals Technologies Inc.
Specialty Minerals is part of Minerals Technologies Inc., a New York Stock Exchange traded company, headquartered in New York City.
Minerals Technologies Inc. is a resource- and technology-based company that develops, produces and markets worldwide a broad range of specialty mineral, mineral-based and synthetic mineral products and related systems and services. The Company has five reportable segments: Specialty Minerals, Refractories, Performance Materials, Construction Technologies and Energy Services.
The Specialty Minerals, Performance Materials and Construction Technologies segments produce and sell products and technologies based primarily upon the mineral products calcium carbonate, bentonite, talc, chromite and leonardite. These segments are used principally in the paper, metalcasting, building materials, paints and coatings, consumer products, ceramic, polymer, and food and pharmaceutical industries.
The Refractories and Energy Services segments both produce and market patented technologies, products and services. The Refractories segment produces monolithic refractory materials and specialty products, services and application equipment used primarily by the steel, non-ferrous metal and glass industries. Energy Services provides a range of products and services for all phases of oil and gas production around the world.
The Company emphasizes research and development. By developing and introducing technologically advanced new products, the Company has been able to anticipate and satisfy changing customer requirements and to create market opportunities through new product development and product application innovations.
Minerals Technologies In Asia
The company entered into an agreement with UPM-Kymmene Corporation (UPM) to build a satellite PCC plant on site at UPM's paper mill in Changshu, China, located in Jiangsu province in January 2014
The company entered into an agreement to build a Satellite PCC Plant for Coated Packaging Paper in China with Zhejiang Zhengda Paper Group Co. Ltd in June 2014.
The Performance Minerals group within SMI, which serves all markets except paper, has a Representative Office in Shanghai, China. Our products from the U.S. and U.K. plants are sold throughout the Asia-Pacific region by Connell Brothers Inc., and we are investigating the potential for local non-paper PCC and talc manufacture in China.
Specialty Minerals Products
Precipitated Calcium Carbonates
Specialty Minerals has a long history of innovation in the manufacture and uses of Precipitated Calcium Carbonates. Many new crystals have been developed which are designed to impart specific performance properties to the products in which they are used.
The visionary “satellite PCC plant” concept was developed in the mid-1980’s by Specialty Minerals for the paper industry. PCC is produced right on the site of a paper mill, with the PCC slurry being pumped directly to the paper machine, saving the energy and costs of drying and transporting. The products at each satellite plant are tailored to match the needs of the particular paper machine used and paper product being made.
The first SMI PCC satellite opened in 1986 at a mill in Wisconsin in the U.S. There are now 58 satellite PCC plants operating in 17 countries around the world, which along with the 3 SMI merchant plants, produce over 3.5 million tons of PCC each year.
SMI Paper Satellite has introduced a portfolio of new technologies in the “FulFill™” series to assist papermakers in achieving higher filler levels.
SMI Performance Minerals PCCs
While paper is the largest use for Precipitated Calcium Carbonate, Specialty Minerals PCCs also contribute high performance to a variety of products, especially plastics, sealants and consumer products. They are also used in ink, paint, rubber, and many other applications. These non-paper uses are served by the Performance Minerals group within SMI.
Products range in size from the 0.07 micron nano or ultrafine PCCs up to the ultra dense 12 micron PCCs. Both the calcite and aragonite forms of PCC are manufactured, in shapes that include rhombohedrals, prismatics, cubes, scalenohedral starbursts, and needles. Depending on the use, the PCCs can be uncoated or coated with a variety of materials that improve their efficiency and compatibility. They are primarily used in the dry form, but may be available as slurries.
SMI Performance Minerals has two PCC plants, one in the U.S. and one in the U.K. The largest is in Adams, Massachusetts, where limestone is also mined. In 1996, SMI acquired the former Sturge / Rhodia PCC plant in Birmingham, England.
Among the performance enhancing PCC products from Specialty Minerals are:
- Ultra-Pflex®, Calofort® and Thixo-Carb® coated nano PCCs for automotive and construction sealants, offset inks and for high gloss and highest impact strength in rigid PVC,
- The ViCALity®, CalEssence® and Sturcal® PCC families of pharmaceutical and food grade products used in antacids, for fortifying milk, cereals and other foods, and for the manufacture of calcium supplements.
- New products - Albacar® T10 and Albafil® T10 for extension of titanium dioxide (TiO2) in coatings and other optical demanding formulations.
Ground Calcium Carbonate and Dolomite
In the United States, SMI has two limestone and one dolomite (calcium magnesium carbonate) operations, where the minerals are mined and ground into a range of coarse to very fine ground calcium carbonate (GCC) products. Some are coated, primarily for polymer applications.
The oldest is at Adams, Massachusetts, where limestone has been mined since the 1850’s. Lucerne Valley, California is the site of the second ground calcium carbonate (GCC) plant, and our dolomite plant is in Canaan, Connecticut.
These ground carbonates are sold under the well-known Vicron®, Vical®, Marblewhite® and Dolocron® trademarks. They are used in a wide variety of products: paints; many types of plastics; building products such as flooring, roof shingles, joint compound, carpet backing, cultured marble, and swimming pools; in agriculture and animal feeds, and many others.
The third major mineral manufactured by Specialty Minerals is talc. Talc has been mined at our Barretts, Montana plant in the US since the early 1950’s. Here it is purified, ground, and may be coated. Barretts, Montana makes a high purity talc grade for the USP market.
A plant in Bay City, Texas manufactures the Optibloc® series of high clarity antiblocks.
Specialty Minerals has also been a leader in the development of high performance talc products. We developed the first talc-based antiblock for polyethylene films, ABT® 2500 talc, and followed with a series of further developments with coated Polybloc® talc, and Optibloc® and ClearBloc® high clarity antiblocks, which are widely used by the leading resin and compound manufacturers.
Of importance to the auto and appliance industries is our series of fine and ultrafine reinforcement talcs for use in polypropylene and thermoplastic olefins. The MicroTuff® talc series uses
Montana talc and contributes high flexural modulus (stiffness), and with the ultrafine,
1 micron grades, especially helping to maintain impact strength.
Product quality and uniformity are critical to our customers’ successful use of our products. We take great care to ensure our products meet the quality requirements for their application. All of the plants in the Performance Minerals group within Specialty Minerals have ISO 9001 certification. Both the Birmingham, UK and Adams, MA plants are ISO22000 : 2005 certified. Our PCC plant in Birmingham, U.K., has also achieved environmental certification under ISO 14001.
In addition, our Adams, MA and Birmingham, U.K. plants are registered as drug manufacturing facilities with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and manufacture the food grade and pharmaceutical products under GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) guidelines.
If you would like more information on Specialty Minerals products and the name of a direct sales representative or local distributor in your area, please contact us at one of the locations listed.
We look forward to working with you, helping you develop the high performance products your customers require.
ABT, CalEssence, Calofort, Dolocron, Marblewhite, MicroTuff, Optibloc, Polybloc, Sturcal, Thixo-Carb, Ultra-Pflex, Vical, ViCALity, and Vicron are registered trademarks of Minerals Technologies Inc. or its subsidiaries.