Industrial Minerals Drive Global Economic GrowthMon, 10/21/2013 - 14:15
In economic terms, the mining of industrial minerals in Mexico generates as much wealth as metallic minerals. However, unlike metallic minerals, their uses and applications are less visible, camouflaged within the goods we consume on a daily basis. In economic geology the majority of industrial minerals are classified as nonmetallic. They do not offer the same immediate returns as metallic minerals do, but industrial minerals are as essential to our lives, perhaps even more than metallic minerals are.
Even though much effort has been made to attract the attention of government entities and private parties to promote the exploration and exploitation of these mineral resources, their efforts have been insufficiently successful according to José García Gómez, General Manager of Minerales Gosa, a nationwide provider of industrial minerals in Mexico. “Experts involved in the management and applications of industrial minerals value and understand their contribution to industries in general, and know they can be even more important than metallic minerals. Industrial minerals are present in numerous sectors where metallic minerals do not compete. Non-metallic minerals generate as much value as metallic minerals do, the difference lies in the volumes produced,” he says.
Industrial minerals are used in diverse industries, such as the construction, pharmaceutical, and chemical sectors. The economic importance of industrial minerals lies in their application in the manufacturing of a wide variety of durable goods, such as houses, cars, and electronics, and non-durable goods, including glass, plastic, paper, and textiles, that are consumed daily. “The true worth of industrial minerals is in their massive use in different industrial sectors. They are fundamental low-cost supplies for the manufacturing of many products. Among their many other applications, non-metallic minerals are used to increase volume and decrease production costs of processed products,” García Gómez remarks. The GDP growth of developing countries results in an increasing demand for goods and services by their inhabitants, which in turn has a direct impact on the consumption of industrial minerals. However, it is relevant to highlight that the economic contributions of industrial minerals are more permanent, stable, and less dependent on market fluctuations than metallic minerals. Industrial minerals are mined and processed in order to transform the raw ore into a product that can be sold in domestic and global markets. Minerals have to be transported and supplied to direct consumer markets or to other processing plants to produce intermediate products that are then provided to the final consumers. “Geological knowledge, combined with an understanding of supply and demand in local, regional, national, and global markets, act as the trigger for the activation of industrial mineral deposits in any country where there is an opportunity to develop a wide range of industries,” García Gómez explains.
Minerales Gosa detected opportunities in the industrial minerals sector and understood customers’ needs to find providers that could satisfy their requirements in terms of quality products and service. In order to satisfy the vast demand of industrial minerals, the company decided to go beyond the exploitation of its mines and began purchasing minerals from producing ejidatarios that could supply them with the raw materials they were looking for. “Every industry requires different minerals with diverse characteristics, and specifications. For this reason, Minerales Gosa looks every day for new strategies to adapt to the evolving requirements of its customers and to comply with each and every specification they might have,” says García Gómez. The company mainly commercializes kaolinite, calcium carbonate, mica, talc, feldspar, bentonite, diatomite, dolomite, zeolite, and phosphates.
There are a great number of non-metallic deposits that remain unexplored and those that have been discovered require more attention and financial support for their exploitation. “If we continue creating strategic alliances between the government and the private sector, we will be able to exploit Mexico’s immense potential. The country has a great variety of minerals with industrial applications, which gives Mexico a great advantage over many countries worldwide. It is important to attract the attention of investors in this area so that we can further develop the segment and strengthen Mexico’s industrial capacity,” García Gómez comments.