South Africa is amid most prominent world vermiculite producers. Its perlite mine output was estimated at 200,000 tonnes in 2011, showing an upswing by 2,000 tonnes year on year.
The country also produces certain volumes of perlite. Its capacity is significantly lower than that of vermiculite. South African perlite mine output was 400 tonnes in 2011. The figure remained unchanged from 2010.
Local perlite and vermiculite firms are engaged in the export activity. Their combined overseas sales amounted to 181,000 tonnes in 2010, up by 21,000 tonnes year on year.
Export and import dynamics of Perlite and Vermiculite in South Africa in 2005-2010, metric tons
The U.S. market was the key destination for both products’ shipments in 2009, but it lost the position in 2010 to be substituted by Belgium.
South Africa obtains some perlite and vermiculite from foreign supplies on an annual basis. In 2010, perlite and vermiculite imports totaled 13,400 tonnes, a rise by 3,000 tonnes if compared to 2010. Over 99% of deliveries came from Turkey.
Global vermiculite reserves are evaluated at 60 million tones today. The global mine output of the material reached 580,000 tonnes in 2011, growth by 44,000 tonnes from a year earlier.
Vermiculite: world mine production structure, by country, 2011
South Africa, China and the USA were the largest vermiculite producers in 2011. Their mine output amounted to 430,000 tonnes in total.
World perlite deposits, meantime, are assessed at 700 million tonnes. Its mine output was 2.53 million tonnes in 2011, opposing to 2.47 million tonnes in 2010.
China, Greece and the USA generated the highest possible volumes of the product in 2011, maintaining the position of majors. Their combined output was estimated at 1.6 million tonnes in the same period.
Asia is expected to be the main demand growth driver for perlite and vermiculite in the next few years given the weakening of the downstream construction sector in Europe and the USA.
More information on the Perlite and Vermiculite markets can be found in the report Perlite and Vermiculite Market Review.