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The feldspar group minerals are the most abundant minerals in the earth’s crust. High concentrations of alumina (Al2O3) and alkalis (K2O and Na2O) together with low levels of trace elements such as iron (reported as the oxide Fe2O3) define a high-quality feldspar product. Alumina adds hardness, durability and resistance to chemical corrosion while the alkalis act as a flux lowering the temperature of a ceramic body during firing. Feldspar’s physical properties of dispersibility, weatherability, scrub resistance, and mildew resistance make it attractive to the coatings industry.
I-Minerals is focusing on potassium feldspar (K-spar). Deposits of high-quality K-spar that can be economically extracted are rare. In fact, there is currently no North American producer of high-quality K-spar as defined by K20>10% and Fe2O3<0.1%. Manufacturers requiring a high quality K20 product have been forced to pay high prices for K-spar primarily from Europe or reformulate using additives to lower quality products. I-Minerals has run multiple pilot plants that have generated a K-spar product with K2O>=14.0% and Fe2O3<=0.07%. I-Minerals continues to assess the market opportunities for its K-spar products under its brand name Fortispar™. It is envisioned that Fortispar™ products would be offered in a variety of grinds to meet the requirements of a given industry.
Pure K-feldspar is highly valued and has limited availability in the United States and other parts of the world. Producers of high clarity glass, ceramics, sanitary ware, tableware, and paint are the primary users of K-feldspar. With a focus on the production of K-spar, I-Minerals will focus on white ceramic bodies and glaze applications in the ceramic industry as the quality of its products has been very well received by prospective customers. Other opportunities include industrial and marine paint manufacturers use an ultra fine grind variety of feldspar.