Vermiculite is a hydrous silicate mineral that belongs to group of gidroslyud and which has a layered structure. Vermiculite is a large brown or golden-yellow colored lamellar crystal. Vermiculite is a product of secondary hydrolysis and weathering of dark micas of phlogopite and biotite. Vermiculite exhibits properties such as low density, inertness, fire resistance, high liquid absorption capacity and good insulating properties. Vermiculite finds application in widespread applications in construction and agriculture. Hard burned vermiculites are extremely useful in growing crops in the nutrient solution. It is also used widely to improve the overall soil quality.
The growing construction industry is expected to drive the overall growth of the vermiculite market. Vermiculite is used in general plasters that are used by construction industry. Vermiculite is either used in its own formulations or is combined with similar, other light weight aggregates such as perlite. Vermiculite is combined with special plasters including fire resistance and acoustic products. Vermiculite is generally combined with binders such as Portland cement, gypsum, rheological aids and fillers. Exfoliated vermiculite when treated with the water repellent is used to fill cavities and pores in masonry constructions in order to enhance fire resistance, acoustics performance and insulation. Vermiculite shapes are widely used in aluminum industry as vermiculite is known for its non-wetting properties with aluminum. The demand for vermiculite is increasing at a steady pace in agricultural sector owing to its ability to condition the soil. Moreover, exfoliated vermiculite helps in improving the aeration of sticky soils and also enhances the water holding capacity. Vermiculite is also used in the fertilizers and pesticides market. There is a huge demand for vermiculite as a replacement for asbestos in brake lining used by the automobile sector.
The key participants of vermiculite industry includes Palabora Mining Company (RSA), Samrec, Virginia Vermiculite, Uniao Brasiliera de Minirecao, JSC Kovdorsluda and Australian Vermiculite Industries among others.
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