Imerys, Transform to perform
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History

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The Group

History

Thanks to an acquisition momentum and organic growth efforts, Imerys, the world leader in mineral-based specialties, has capitalized on its long industrial experience.


Origin: mining and metallurgy


The Group’s origins were in mining and in metallurgy. Created in April 1880, its core business remained the extraction and processing of nickel ore for almost a century.
The 1970’s were the first turning point. A holding company brought the group’s companies together under the name Imetal, then diversified and extended its activity.

1991/1998: First developments in industrial minerals

From 1990 onward, the Group focused its development on Industrial Minerals and implemented an ambitious acquisitions policy. Imetal established strong positions in white pigments, first in kaolins (Dry Branch Kaolin Company, United States) then in calcium carbonates (Georgia Marble, United States). It entered the graphite market (Timcal, Switzerland; Stratmin Graphite, Canada). The Group then expanded through acquisitions in refractories (C-E Minerals, United States; Plibrico, Luxembourg), clays (Cératéra, France), ceramic bodies (KPCL, France) and technical ceramics (Refral, France; Lomba and Cedonosa, Spain).
Between 1994 and 1998, Imetal doubled in size, one-third by organic growth and two-thirds by external growth. In 1998, business was structured around two sectors (Minerals Processing, Metals Processing) with an operating division-based organization.

1999: Completion of refocusing on minerals processing

In 1999, a milestone was reached with the acquisition of English China Clays (ECC). Founded in 1919, the UK company was a major producer of white pigments (kaolin and calcium carbonates). Following this operation, the Group completed its business refocusing on minerals processing by divesting its Metals Processing activity, comprised of the North American companies Copperweld and Copperweld Canada (world leader in bimetallic wires, American leader in specialty tubing).
To reflect this change, Imetal changed its name to Imerys on September 22, 1999.

2000/2011: Development of Imerys, a multi-mineral global Group

The Group completed the refocusing process by withdrawing from activities that no longer corresponded to its core business, including dimension stones (Georgia, USA) and trading. The specialty chemicals distribution business (CDM AB, Sweden) was divested in 2004, followed in 2005 by trading in mainly basic refractories (American Minerals, Inc, USA) and roofing products distribution (Larivière, France).

Since 2000, the Group has developed by leveraging its unique know-how. From a varied portfolio of rare resources, Imerys turns industrial minerals into specialties with high added value for its customers. Organized into business groups that correspond to its main markets, the Group constantly broadens its product range, extends its geographic network into high-growth zones and takes up positions on new markets.

  • Expansion of the Minerals for Ceramics portfolio

New Minerals for Ceramics were added to the portfolio, particularly halloysite (New Zealand China Clays, New Zealand - 2000) and fine ceramic clays, feldspar (K-T, United States and Mexico – 2001), and kaolins, feldspars, micas and quartz with Denain-Anzin Minéraux in Europe (2005). The Group increased its Asian market presence for applications that mainly serve the sanitaryware industry (MRD-ECC and MRD, Thailand – 2002). In 2007, it developed its reserves of feldspar in India (Jumbo Mining), the United States (The Feldspar Corporation) and Turkey. In 2011, Imerys (Minerals for Ceramics) created The Quartz Corp SAS, a joint venture with the Norwegian group Norsk Mineral AS, in order to meet growing demand for high-purity quartz for the semiconductor and photovoltaic segments.
  • Expansion of the Minerals for Refractories range and creation of the Minerals for the Petroleum industry division

The Minerals for Refractories activity expanded its offering for the refractory and sanitaryware markets and enhanced its global geographic network with the acquisition of AGS (2006 – France) and Vatutinsky (2007 – Ukraine), both companies specializing in calcined clays. The purchase of a 65% stake in Yilong (Xinjiang), in April 2007, gave Imerys access to an excellent quality andalusite reserve developed to serve the local market. In 2010, the commissioning of a new plant increased andalusite production capacity in China, and the Oilfield Minerals division, created to serve the Oil and Gas markets, joined Minerals for Refractories business group. In 2011, this activity inaugurated a ceramic proppants plant in Andersonville (Georgia, United States), used to keep fractures in hydrocarbon reservoirs open for non-conventional gas exploration.
  • Creation and development of the Minerals for Abrasives business

The Minerals for Abrasives activity was created in 2000 with the takeover of the world’s leading producer of corundum (fused alumina and bauxite), the Treibacher Schleifmittel group (Austria). A succession of corundum acquisitions were made in the Czech Republic (2001), Germany (2001), Brazil (2002) and China (3rd joint venture created in 2007 with ZAF). In 2007, then, in the early 2008, Imerys added zirconia to its portfolio, which is used in the refractories, technical ceramics and automotive sectors and become the world leader with the successive acquisitions of UCM Group PLC (Great Britain), European leader of fused zirconia and Astron China, 1st Chinese producer of zirconia-based products. The Minerals for Abrasives division was renamed Fused Minerals.
  • Creation of the Minerals for Filtration businesses with the acquisition of World Minerals

Minerals for Filtration joined the Group in 2005 with the acquisition of the world leader in the sector, World Minerals (United States). This acquisition contributed new minerals (diatomite and perlite), while following a model that is consistent with Imerys’ business and skills. Perlite activities were bolstered in South America (Perfiltra, Argentina - 2007).
  • Development of the Performance Minerals businesses and acquisition of the Luzenac Group

The Performance Minerals activities developed with the extension of calcium carbonate capacities in Central and South America (Quimbarra, chiefly Brazil – 2000), Asia (Honaik, mainly in Malaysia – 2000) and France (AGS-BMP’s carbonates activities – 2000). The Group strengthened its positions in Southern Europe (Gran Bianco Carrara, Italy and Blancs Minéraux de Tunisie, Tunisia – 2005) and Turkey (Mikro Mineral - 100% held since 2008). In 2008, the acquisitions of Kings Mountain Minerals Inc (North Carolina, United-States) and Suzorite Mining Inc (Quebec, Canada) bolster the minerals portfolio with a high-quality mica. In 2011, Imerys acquired the Luzenac Group and talc became the 30th mineral processed by the Group.
  • Development of the Pigments for Paper & Packaging business group in Asia and acquisition of Pará Pigmentos SA in Brazil

In Pigments for Paper & Packaging, development focused on ground (GCC) and precipitated (PCC) calcium carbonates, which now account for more than half the Group’s sales to the paper industry. Six new production units have been built since 2004, mainly in the Asia-Pacific zone (in India where a second production unit started in 2008 in Silvassa, in China, in Indonesia, in Japan. To support the development of its Asian activities, extensive reserves of high quality white marble (GCC) have been acquired in Malaysia, in China and in Vietnam in recent years. In Brazil, the business group has enhanced and secured its supply of kaolin through the Pará Pigmentos SA acquisition in July 2010.
  • Growth of the Building Materials business

The Group’s Building Materials activity was strengthened in clay bricks in France with the acquisition of Marcel Rivereau (2004) and has been developing in this field, since 2007, to meet the growing market demand. Clay roof tiles and bricks activities in Spain and Portugal were divested in 2007. At the end of 2008, Imerys TC created CapteliaTM, a joint venture(1) with EDF ENR (Energies Renouvelables Réparties, distributed renewable energies), with the aim of developing and manufacturing efficient and innovative integrated photovoltaic roof tiles. In 2009, the concrete beam and joist activity Planchers Fabre, was sold to the sector French leader.
(1) Held 50/50 by the two partners.
  • Leadership in the field of Refractory Solutions

In Refractory Solutions, the acquisition of Lafarge Refractories (2005) made Imerys the European leader in Monolithic Refractories and gave it a foothold in Asia. The merger of this activity with Plibrico led to the creation of a new entity, Calderys. ACE, the Indian leader in monolithic refractories, joined the Group in 2007, giving it a new dimension in this fast-growing country. Calderys developed in South Africa (B&B - 2007) and in Scandinavia (Svenska Silika Verken AB - Sweden - 2008). Thanks to these operations, Imerys is a world leader in monolithic refractories. In refractory Kiln Furniture, Imerys has also a leadership position in Asia (Siam Refractory Industry Co, Ltd, Thailand – 2002) and Europe (Burton Apta, Hungary – 2004).

Imerys is based in almost 50 countries and has 245 industrial sites.

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Core business

From mineral deposits to customers – learn about all the stages in our core business.

Innovation

300 scientists, 8 R&D centers, 20 regional laboratories... Imerys invests significant resources in the development of solutions tailored to each customer.

Sponsorship

The Imerys Group and its businesses support numerous health, social, educational, environmental, humanitarian, cultural and sporting initiatives.