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).
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.
- Carbonates’ activity mainly operates and transforms ground and precipitated calcium carbonates for many industries (paper, paints & coatings, plastics, films & polymer packaging, rubber, sealants & adhesives, health & beauty). The Carbonates expanded from 2000 with its extension’s capacity in South America (Quimbarra, chiefly Brazil), Asia (Honaik, mainly in Malaysia) and France (AGS-BMP’s carbonates activity). Nine new production units have been built since 2004, mainly in the Asia-Pacific zone (India, China, Indonesia and Japan). To support the development of activities in Asia, extensive reserves of high quality white marble have been acquired in Malaysia, China and Vietnam in recent years The activity strengthened its positions in Southern Europe and Turkey (Gran Bianco Carrara, Italy; Blancs Minéraux de Tunisie, Tunisia – 2005; Mikro Mineral – wholly-owned since 2008). In 2012, the extension of the Ipoh (Malaysia) calcium carbonate plant was launched. In Japan, capacity of the Miyagi plant, rebuilt after the Tsunami in 2011, increase to meet higher demand from its main customer. In order to diversify its products’ range, the Carbonates activity began the construction of a lime production facility, with the view to leverage some of Imerys’ calcium carbonate reserves in Brazil (Dorésopolis, Minas Geiras). The plant should reach its full capacity in 2014.
- 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 – 2007) and Scandinavia (Svenska Silika Verken AB – Sweden – 2008). In 2013, Calderys completed two acquisitions in Asia: Indoporlen, the Indonesian leader in monolithic refractories, offering to the activity its first industrial base in this country and a sound platform for development; Tokai Ceramics expands Calderys presence in Japan, and gives it easier access to the steel market. With the additional acquisition of Arefcon b.v., (a Dutch refractory installer serving the petrochemicals industry) in January 2013, Imerys is established as a world leader in monolithic refractories.
- With its activity Graphite & Carbon, 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). 2013 marks the finalization of the capacity doubling project at the Willebroek carbon plant (Belgium), launched in 2012, to support growing demand from mobile energy segments.
- 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 Performance Minerals activity 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 Filtration 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.
- The Kaolin activity strengthened and secured its kaolin supply in Brazil with the acquisition of Pará Pigmentos S.A. in July 2010. In 2012, Imerys sold one of its two port terminals in Brazil (Barcarena, Parà state) and some adjacent real estate to the American corporation Archers Daniels Midlands, Inc. In 2013, Imerys finalized the acquisition of Goonvean kaolin activities (United Kingdom), which strengthens its high-purity reserves for performance and ceramics applications.
- The Minerals for Ceramics were added to the portfolio, 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, Thailand – 2002). In 2007, it developed its reserves of feldspar, an essential component in ceramics manufacturing alongside clays and kaolins, 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 2012, Imerys continued to accelerate its geographical expansion by launching a joint venture with its local agent, the building of a multi-minerals platform in Egypt (completed and operational in 2013) and by acquiring Ceraminas (Thailand) Co, Ltd, a Thai feldspar producing company.
- Thanks to an efficient production process and to the high quality of its deposits, the activity Building Materials is the leading French clay roof tiles producer. The activity also plays a key role in developing the renewable energies in the field of the solar clay roof tiles. Announced in December 2012, the divestment of the Imerys Structure activity (wall and partition bricks, chimney blocks) to the Bouyer-Leroux group, was completed on September 30, 2013.
- The Kiln Furniture activity develops, designs, produces and globally markets firing supports and components for industrial kilns for the ceramic industries. It has developed activities in technical ceramic segments too. Kiln Furniture is also building front-rank positions through acquisitions in Asia (Siam Refractory Industry Co, Ltd, Thailand – 2002) and Europe (Burton Apta, Hungary – 2004).
- The Refractory Minerals activity expanded its offering for the refractory and sanitaryware markets and enhanced its geographic presence 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 (2007 – China) and the remaining 35% in 2011, gave Imerys access to an excellent quality andalusite reserve in order to serve the local refractories market. In 2010, the commissioning of a new plant increased andalusite production capacity in China. To diversify its mineral range, Imerys purchased, in 2012, a refractory bauxite deposit in Brazil (State of Pará) from the Vale Group. This mineral is essential to several refractory and abrasive applications.
- The Fused Minerals activity, previously named Minerals for Abrasives, was created in 2000 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. In 2012, the Group enlarged its geographic footprint in the Middle East with the start of the construction of a fused alumina plant in Bahrain through a joint venture with Al Zayani Investments group. Construction was completed in 2013. This project is the first industrial base of Imerys in the Middle East.