Talc is a mineral composed of hydrated magnesium silicate and is an important industrial and commercial mineral. It has broad applications as an industrial mineral due to its resistance to heat, electricity and acids and oil and grease adsorption. Talc has extensive commercial use because of its luster, softness, purity, fragrance retention, softness and whiteness. It is the softest known mineral and has a rating of 1 on the Mohs hardness scale. It can be scratched by a fingernail and is also sectile that means it can be cut by a knife. It has a specific gravity of 2.5 -2.8 and has clear luster. Talc is slightly soluble in dilute mineral acids and insoluble in water. It is a metamorphic mineral and occurs due to metamorphism of magnesium minerals such as olivine, amphibole, serpentine and pyroxene in presence of water and carbon dioxide. Talc is a tri-octahedral layered mineral and has a similar structure to that of pyrophyllite.
Talc can be used as an ingredient in paints, roofing materials, ceramics, insecticides, rubber, talcum powder and insecticides among others. It is also used by the cosmetics industry, pulp and paper industry and food industry. Talc is often used to manufacture laboratory countertops and electrical switchboards due to its resistance to heat, acids and electricity. It is used by the cosmetic industry as a lubricant and as a filler by the pulp and paper industry. Talc is extensively used to make astringent baby powders that prevent rashes covered by a diaper. Talc is used by the pharmaceutical industry as a glidant (a substance that is added to powder to improve its flow ability) and by the food industry as an additive. In the European Union the additive number is E553b. In medicine, talc is used as a pluerodesis agent to prevent pneumothorax or recurrent pleural effusion. Talc is also an effective dispersing agent and anti caking agent and helps fertilizer plants and animal feeds to function efficiently and can be used for fertilizers.
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The paper and pulp industry remains the largest global end market for talc and is the key driving factor for the talc Industry. The automotive industry, ceramics industry and the paint and coatings industry are the other major consumers of talc. The use of talc as a filler in the paper industry is declining today but the use of talc for the manufacture of under the hood automotive parts is substantially increasing that has further lead to surge in demand for talc by the automotive industry.
Asia Pacific is the largest market for talc with China, India, Japan, Bhutan, and South Korea being the key markets in this region. The Indian talc industry is the world’s third largest and continues to grow due to increase in domestic consumption. North America and Europe are other regions with a substantial market share of talc. Austria, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and United Kingdom are the major consumers of talc in Europe.
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Some of the major companies dominating the talc market are Imerys talc, Mondo Minerals, Golcha Group, American Talc, IMI FABI, Nippon Talc, Minerals Technologies Inc, the Jai Group, Aihai Talc, Behai Talc, Shuiquan Talc, Xin Talc, Haumei Talc, Guiguang Talc and Xin Talc among others. Imerys talc is the world’s leading producer of talc followed by Mondo Minerals.