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 non ferrous metals 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 also expanded into rfractory minerals (C-E Minerals, United States), monolithic refractories (Plibrico, Luxembourg), clays (Ceratera, France) and ceramic bodies (KPCL, France). Finally, it entered the graphite (Stratmin Graphite, Canada, then Timcal, Switzerland) and technical ceramics markets (IKF, France). 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.
2000/2014: 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).
In November 2014, Imerys announced a strategic merger with global player S&B, the European leader in bentonite (binders for foundry, watertight coatings, drilling adjuvants and functional additives. S&B is also world number one in smelting for the continuous casting of steel, and world leader in wollastonite (functional additives for polymers and paints). The Company is also present in perlite-based solutions used in building materials and horticulture. The acquisition of S&B’s main activities was finalized on February 26, 2015.
Since 2000, the Group has developed by leveraging its unique know-how. From a wide portfolio of rare resources and developed technical processes, Imerys transforms industrial minerals into specialties with high added value for its customers. Since July 1, 2013, Imerys has been organized into four business groups focused on the operating activities that are centered on clearly identified markets:
▪ Energy Solutions & Specialties;
▪ Filtration & Performance Additives;
▪ Ceramics Materials;
▪ High Resistance Minerals.
In 2014, the structure of Imerys’ business groups was reorganized due to the announced strategic merger with S&B. The Kaolin activity is therefore included in Ceramic Materials. S&B’s activities are included in Filtration & Performance Additives. For further information about the business groups, see chapter 1 of the Registration Document.
Imerys constantly broadens its product range, especially through innovation, extends its geographic representation in high-growth regions and enters new markets. The history of the Group’s major activities and their main developments in 2014 are presented below:
- the Carbonates activity mainly operates and transforms ground and precipitated calcium carbonates for many industries (e.g. paints, plastics, paper, packaging, health & beauty). Carbonates expanded from 2000 with the extension of capacity in South America (Quimbarra, Brazil, in 2000), Asia (Honaik, Malaysia, in 2000) and France (AGS-BMP’s carbonates activity, in 2000). Extensive reserves of high quality white marble have been acquired in Malaysia, China and Vietnam as well as in Southern Europe (Gran Bianco Carrara, in Italy and Mikro Mineral, in Turkey, fully-owned since 2008). In Malaysia, the extension of the calcium carbonate plant (Ipoh) was launched and in Japan capacity of the Miyagi plant, rebuilt after the Tsunami in 2011, increased to meet higher demand from its main customer. In 2012, the Carbonates activity was launched in Brazil (Dorésopolis) with the construction of a lime production facility, with the view to leverage some of Imerys’ calcium carbonate reserves and diversify its product range. The plant’s 2014 results were satisfactory. In 2014, the Group disposed of four calcium carbonate paper plants in Europe and the United States as well as a production plant in Tunisia. At the same time, it acquired Kinta Powdertec Sdn Bhd, in Malaysia, a natural calcium carbonate producer for plastics, polymers and coatings;
- within the Monolithic Refractories activity, the acquisition of Lafarge Refractories (2005) has enabled Imerys to become the European leader in this sector and gave it a foothold in Asia. The merger of these activities with Plibrico, acquired a few years before, led to the creation of a new entity, Calderys. ACE, the Indian leader in monolithic refractories, became part of the Group in 2007, giving Calderys a new dimension in this fast-growing country. The activity grew in South Africa (B&B) and Scandinavia (Svenska Silika Verken AB, Sweden, in 2008). Following the incorporation of Arefcon b.v. (Netherlands), Indoporlen (Indonesia) and Tokai (Japan) in 2013, the Group acquired the Finish company Termorak in 2014. This acquisition strengthened its position in the design and installation of refractory materials for the petrochemical and thermal industries. Thanks to these transactions, Imerys is established as a world leader in monolithic refractories;
- with its Graphite & Carbon activity, Imerys is the world leader in technical applications for high performance graphite powders and carbon black thanks to the large geographical presence of its subsidiary Timcal acquired in 1994 (North America, Europe, Asia). In 2013, to support growing demand from mobile energy segments, the Group doubled the capacity of the Willebroek carbon black plant (Belgium). In 2014, this activity opened an applied R&D center in Japan to support its major local customers;
- the Oilfield Solutions activity was created in 2009 to serve the non-conventional Oil and Gas markets. In 2011, Imerys inaugurated a ceramic proppant production unit in Andersonville (Georgia, United States), used to keep fractures open in non-conventional oil and gas exploration. In 2013, the Group accelerated its development in the US (Wrens, Georgia) with the purchase of PyraMax Ceramics LLC, an industrial complex for manufacturing ceramic proppants;
- the Filtration & Performance Minerals activity includes Minerals for Filtration which joined the Group in 2005 with the acquisition of the world leader in this sector, World Minerals (United States). This acquisition contributed new minerals (diatomite and perlite) and a global presence, while following a model that is consistent with Imerys’ business and skills. Perlite activities were bolstered in South America in 2007 with the acquisition of Perfiltra in Argentina. In terms of Performance Minerals, the Group continued its development, in 2008, with the acquisitions of Kings Mountain Minerals, Inc. (North Carolina, United States) and Suzorite Mining, Inc. (Quebec, Canada) which add high quality mica to the minerals portfolio. Imerys acquired the Luzenac Group in 2011 and became the world leader in talc processing. In 2012, the Group enhanced its product offering for the paint, polymer and rubber markets with the acquisition of the Brazilian company Itatex;
- Minerals for Ceramics were added to the portfolio, through various acquisitions particularly halloysite (New Zealand China Clays, New Zealand – 2000) and fine ceramic clays and feldspar (K-T, United States and Mexico – 2001); kaolins, feldspar, micas and quartz (Denain-Anzin Minéraux, Europe – 2005). The Group increased its Asian market presence for applications that mainly serve the sanitaryware industry (MRD-ECC and MRD Minerals, Thailand – 2002). In 2007, it developed its reserves of feldspar in India (Jumbo Mining), the United States (The Feldspar Corporation) and Turkey. In 2011, the Minerals for Ceramics activity was associated with the Norwegian group Norsk Mineral AS, through the joint venture “The Quartz Corp SAS”, to serve the increasing demand of high purity quartz in semiconductor and photovoltaic markets. In 2013, Imerys continued to accelerate its geographical expansion with the ramp-up of of a multi-minerals platform and by acquiring Ceraminas (Thailand) Co, Ltd, a Thai feldspar producing company. In 2014, the Kiln Furniture activity (development, design, and production of firing supports and components for industrial kilns for the ceramic industries) was included in Minerals for Ceramics in order to create market synergies. A new operating plant, Imerys Primary Raw Materials Sourcing, was created in 2014 in Roswell (USA) to strengthen the efficient and sustainable primary management of materials for, in particular, North American activities in Minerals for Ceramics, Kaolin, Oilfield Solutions and Refractory Minerals;
- Regarding the Building Materials, the divestment of the Imerys Structure activity (wall and partition bricks, chimney blocks) to the Bouyer-Leroux group was completed in 2013. Following the permanent closure of Ardoisières d’Angers in 2014, Ceramics Materials refocused on clay roof tiles, with Imerys TC being France’s largest producer of tiles thanks to high-quality deposits, an efficient production process and innovative and environmentally-friendly products;
- the Kaolin activity, previously part of Filtration & Performance Minerals, has been integrated into the Ceramics Materials business group since 2014. The acquisition of Pará Pigmentos S.A. in Brazil reinforced the Group’s geographic reach in South America in 2010. In 2013, Imerys finalized the acquisition of Goonvean kaolin activities (United Kingdom), which strengthens its high-purity reserves for performance and ceramics applications;
- Refractory Minerals expands with the acquisition of AGS (2006 – France) and Vatutinsky (2007 – Ukraine), both companies specializing in calcined clays. In 2010, the commissioning of a new plant increased andalusite production capacity in China. In 2011, the Group increased to 100% its stake into Yilong in China, giving Imerys access to an excellent quality andalusite reserve in order to serve the local refractories market. To diversify its mineral range, Imerys purchased, in 2012, a refractory bauxite deposit in Brazil from the Vale Group. This mineral is essential to several refractory and abrasive applications. In 2014, the activity added Europe Commerce Refractories, its exclusive agent;
- the Fused Minerals activity was created in 2000 under the name Minerals for Abrasives with the takeover of the world’s leading producer of corundum (fused alumina and bauxite), Treibacher Schleifmittel (Austria), of which the remaining shares were acquired in July 2002. A succession of corundum acquisitions were made in the Czech Republic (2001), Germany (2001), Brazil (2002) and China (third joint venture created in 2007 with ZAF). Imerys added fused zircon, a mineral for the refractory, technical ceramics and automotive markets to its portfolio, becoming the world leader with the successive acquisitions of UCM Group Plc (United Kingdom, 2007), the European leader in fused zircon, and Astron China (2008), the leading Chinese zircon product manufacturer. The activity then changed its name to Fused Minerals. In 2012, the Group enlarged its geographic footprint in the Middle East with the launch of the construction of a fused alumina plant in Bahrain through a joint venture with Al Zayani Investments group. Construction was completed in 2013 and the plant ramped-up in 2014. This joint-venture is Imerys’ first industrial base in the Middle East.