Specialty Minerals Precipitated Calcium Carbonate (PCC) Satellite Plants

Until the acceptance of precipitated calcium carbonate by the paper industry, North American paper mills Paper_PCC_Satellite_Planthad traditionally used filler minerals, primarily kaolin clay, and expensive wood pulp as starting materials to make acid papers. Only a few mills in the Northeastern U.S. were using PCC from our Adams, Massachusetts, merchant plant. In addition, a couple of independent paper producers operated their own on-site PCC plant. In the early 1980’s, Specialty Minerals commercialized the satellite concept for delivering PCC to the paper mill from on-site production facilities. This concept revolutionized the chemistry of papermaking and allowed papermakers to meet printers' increasing quality standards.

By maximizing the use of paper mill resources (i.e., land, electricity, water and lime kiln gas), we are able to produce precipitated calcium carbonate at a significantly lower cost for the host paper mill versus traditional merchant supply. By producing PCC on-site, transportation, a major cost component, can be eliminated.

Specialty Minerals finances, constructs, owns and operates the precipitated calcium carbonate satellite facility. The physical plant size is typically about 45 x 75 meters. Each plant is designed to produce PCC customized to meet host mill requirements with product quality and consistency. Working under a long-term contract, we develop a close working relationship with the host mill. Specifically designed for the paper mill, the benefits of our satellite program are numerous:

  • Reduced raw material costs
  • Custom-made PCC products
  • Elimination of freight costs
  • Just-in-time delivery
  • Reduced working capital
  • Enhanced quality

This diagram shows a typical precipitated calcium carbonate satellite plant layout.



Quicklime (CaO) is delivered from carefully chosen regional sources and stored in large tanks. The lime is then mixed with water in a "slaker" to form "slake" or calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2) and the slurry stored in a holding tank. The slurry is then led to a “carbonator” tank where the slaked lime is reacted with carbon dioxide (CO2) gas. After careful screening, the PCC slurry is delivered to the paper mill. Throughout the process, reaction conditions of time, temperature and pressure are monitored and controlled. Quality checks are made at various stages in the process and again just before delivery.

All of Specialty Minerals’ modern satellite plants are equipped with the latest process automation and equipment technology. Each plant configuration allows for easy expandability.