Industrial minerals are irreplaceable in many everyday products. For example, a typical house contains about 150 tonnes of industrial minerals, while a typical car contains 100-150 kg. Industrial minerals such as barytes, kaolin, or salt are extracted within the EU to supply a wide range of industries. For some minerals such as magnesite, fluorspar, kaolin, and potash, Europe is a major global producer.
Eurostat records data on industrial minerals can be found under NACE codes CB14.22, CB14.3, CB14.4 and CB14.5
Competitiveness and trade issues
- Production - the EU is the world's largest producer of many industrial minerals. In 2006, 54% of the world's production of perlite and 60% of the production of feldspar came from the EU.
- Price - industrial minerals are generally low-priced commodities. They are not sold as standardised products via centralised markets but directly to the end user. Factors influencing the negotiated price include the source of the mineral, the volume required, the grade/end-use, and the quality of the mineral.
- Transport - the high cost of transport has a significant impact on the delivery price to the end-user. This situation limits the geographic availability of suitable resources.
- Recycling - products made of specific minerals, such as glass, are recycled in Europe.
- Waste - minerals such as salt and magnesia are often mined underground, resulting in environmental issues similar to those found in the metals industries. In general, no hazardous mining waste is produced.
- Legislation – the industry is likely to have certain environmental impacts such as changes in groundwater flow patterns, loss of biodiversity, dust, and noise emissions. Managing these impacts requires that activities are in line with legislation.
- Industry initiatives – the industry has made large strides to improve its environmental performance, and companies aim to reconcile their activities with sustainable development and environmental concerns.