The uses of minerals are an integral part of our daily lives. Since time preceding the medieval ages, various areas required the use of comminuted minerals and a broad variety of rocks. Further, presently the extent of production and consumption of nonmetallic raw materials is synonymous with nations’ progress and growth. Industrial minerals are representative of wealth and there are no such mineral materials that are as significant as calcium carbonate and no other industrial mineral has such a broad range of application as the latter. From sculptures, through construction, chemistry, paints, and papers as well as agriculture, pharmaceutical, and food products calcium carbonates can be found. The immense economic significance of calcium carbonate minerals is further discerned when the production volumes of some lime, chalk, and marble stone are glossed over. An instance of lime, which has a wide industrial application and includes the manufacture of precipitated calcium carbonate, the global production volume was estimated by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to be in the order of 430,000 thousand metric tons in 2019 which was an approx. increase of 22.8 % from the estimates of 2016 which was in the order of 350,000 thousand metric tons.
Application wise, as briefly touched upon earlier, despite a global initiative towards the digital economy the size of the paper industry is still to be reckoned with. Once the application of paper (among many) is that of the paper packaging. To this end, Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence has forecasted the paper packaging market to attain a market value of US$278.222 billion in 2023 after growing at a CAGR of 3.12% from the US$231.452 billion that has been estimated for 2017. The mention of paper is contextual to the global calcium carbonate market which is estimated to grow at a remarkable CAGR of during the forecast period from a market value of USD3.583 billion that has been estimated for 2019 by Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence, is because since the 1970s calcium carbonate has been integral to papermaking. This is due to properties such as high whiteness and solubility, along with alkaline pH value, as well as the rhombohedral pigment form of calcium carbonate has led to the development of numerous process such as finally leading the inclusion of precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) that has supplemented the use of naturally derived ground calcium carbonate. With regards to PCC, in July 2020, it was reported that Austria based euroMinerals GmbH which is specialized in developing and micronizing industrial minerals has opened a new plant for PCC in Bad Ischl, Austria which is scheduled to be operationalized in 2021.
Besides the paper industry, calcium carbonate is integral to the construction industry both as cement and as building materials. The contribution of calcium carbonates ranges from making of concrete blocks, the mortar used in bonding bricks, roofing shingles, rubber compounds, stones, and tiles. It is also used as a multi-purpose filler/anti-strip agent when added to hot rolled asphalts with a variety of sands and gravels. It imparts sand modification to enhance the resistance for the mixture and provided a consistent material for ease of work. With regards to construction, a country level over alone is contextual in substantiating the growth forecasts. For instance, The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have jointly announced that as of November 2020, privately-owned housing starts of were approx. 8.6% higher than that of the preceding month. Single-family housing starts in November were approx. 7.9 % above the revised figure of the preceding month.
Equally important is food security which is guaranteed by agriculture to which the chemicals and materials industry has been a key determinant. Calcium carbonate is one such substance that has been elemental in agriculture application and thus the market of paramount importance. Its key contribution is to use as an amendment to neutralize soil acidity that is beneficial for better us of water, recovery of nutrient and plant performance with a healthier root system, enhanced nitrogen (n) fixation by legumes, greater availability of phosphorus (p) and improved n mineralization and nitrification and to supply calcium (Ca) for plant nutrition. With respect to plant nutrition, the demand for calcium surges particularly when kernels or grain start to develop. To this end, in January 2019 Oro Agri had announced the launch of a liquid, soil-applied product designed to supply crops with readily available calcium during periods of high demand called ENCOURAGE NANOCAL. The product was launched with the rationale of improving the ready availability of calcium for uptake by the crops’ roots because the particle size may be often comparatively large (3 to 20 micron-size) as far as the standard nutrient program is concerned. The calcium carbonate particles of this product have been milled to an average size of 0.7 microns which is significantly small to be taken up by the meristematic region of adventitious roots concomitantly doing away with additional mineralization like gypsum, limestone, or products with larger particle sizes.
Another important area of application of carbonate is that of dental care. Despite the first mention of products pertaining to dental care were in Chinese and Indian scripts which are more than 4000 years old, tooth care is the product of present times. For instance, in February 2020 Wellness a company that creates high quality, responsibly sourced, and safe products with the objective of increasing the economic, environmental, and social value for consumers, communities, and the planet, had launched Wellness Whitening Toothpaste in Fresh Mint made commercially available in environmentally-friendly compostable sugar cane packaging and reportedly uses calcium carbonate. Again, during the same month, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps reportedly launched a new variety of All-One Toothpaste called the Dr. Bronner’s Spearmint All-One Toothpaste which has calcium carbonate, among others that acts as a gentle abrasive along with other ingredients. These developments underscore the integral nature of calcium carbonate in personal care products which would further facilitate the growth of the market.