Published October 2014
Fine-ground calcium carbonate (FGCC) and precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) are used as fillers and extenders in a variety of applications, including paper, paint, plastics, adhesives and many others. The adhesive and sealant applications encompass a wide spectrum of products ranging from household caulks to joint cement compounds and carpet backings.Consumption of FGCC accounts for 75% of total combined FGCC and PCC consumption.
By far the greatest regional world consumer of FGCC and PCC is Asia. China leads the world in FGCC consumption, with about 26% of total FGCC consumption, followed closely by the United States, with about 25%. Asia is also the world's largest consumer of PCC, with China accounting for over half of total world PCC consumption. The United States is the second-largest PCC consumer, with 16%, followed closely by Western Europe, with just under 13%.
The following pie charts show world consumption of FGCC and PCC.
The North American market for FGCC had been increasing until 2008, but experienced drastic losses in 2008 and 2009 as a result of the downturn in the construction and automobile industries, which account for a considerable proportion of end-use markets for fine-ground calcium carbonate filler materials. The market showed signs of recovery in 2010, but in 2013, consumption had still not reached the levels of 2007. Demand also decreased for uses in plastics, coatings, adhesives and sealants, as well as for the paper industry.
FGCC consumption in the paper production industry accounts for almost 30% of the total North American market. This market is likely to decline over the next five years, by about 3% per year, but the other end-use markets are set to grow in line with a healthy construction and automotive industry during 2013–2018. An overall average annual consumption growth rate of about 1% is forecast for the United States for FGCC over the next few years.
The downturn in the European construction and automobile industries negatively affected the same application areas, but only beginning in the last quarter of 2008. In 2010, markets started to pick up, and very slow growth in FGCC has been observed over the last three years. In the plastics industry, the general trend toward higher loading levels will continue, and contribute to increased consumption of calcium carbonate in this sector globally. In other parts of the world, particularly China, the global economic downturn had less impact, since consuming markets are driven by domestic consumption. The Chinese market is expected to continue to grow only slowly at 2% per year during 2013–2018.
As with the FGCC market, PCC consumption drastically declined with the reduced paper output in the economic downturn. Decreasing paper output was most pronounced in North America and Europe. Both regions are expected to make up for most of the losses; however, there is an underlying decline in production for both regions due to an unfavorable production cost position compared with world regions that have access to lower-cost pulp and manpower.
There are smaller markets for PCC in the paint and coatings, pharmaceuticals and plastics industries. In the automotive sealants industry, stearate-coated PCC is increasingly consumed in PVC plastisols for underbody coatings.
In 2013, PCC demand for paper in Western Europe accounted for about 85% of total demand. The paper industry has been the driving force behind the growth of PCC in Europe. Future growth of PCC in Europe depends on the number of new PCC on-site plants, which can be cost-competitive with fine-ground calcium carbonate producers. Total demand for PCC in Western Europe is projected to grow at an average annual rate of only 0.7% through 2018.
The largest consumer of FGCC in Japan is the paper industry, followed by the plastics industry. PCC growth was driven by high demand for high-quality alkaline paper and strong demand for coated paper. The market for PCC in Japan is projected to stagnate during 2013–2018.