Calcium Carbonate

Whole mountain chains are made from Calcium Carbonate in the form of chalk, limestone, marble and dolomite. It constitutes more than 4% of the earth’s crust. In soluble form it is dissolved in rivers and oceans where plants and animals absorb it and use it to build skeletons and shells. As an industrial mineral it is an ideal raw material because of the diversity of grades it can produce.

No one calcium carbonate is exactly like another. Whichever property is needed a high grade product is there to meet the demand. With its special white qualities as a filler and coating pigment, calcium carbonate is the most widely used mineral in the Paper, Plastics, Paints and Coatings industries. Other qualities are used in a wide range of applications in the chemical, steel, construction, environmental and agricultural areas.

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Calcium Carbonate is an exceptional mineral. The chemical formula CaCO3 covers a raw material, which is widespread throughout nature, whether dissolved in rivers and oceans, in molten form as “cold” carbonatite-lava, or solid as a mineral in the form of stalactites, stalagmites or as the major constituent of whole mountain ranges.

Plants and animals need calcium carbonate to form their skeletons and shells. In fact, when considering our lives, modern mankind could hardly imagine existing without calcium carbonate. Almost every product in our daily lives either contains calcium carbonate or has some association with the mineral during its production. The Earth’s crust contains more than 4% calcium carbonate.

As a result, the three calcium carbonate minerals - calcite, aragonite and vaterite - are among the most important rock-forming minerals. Rocks are not the only calcium carbonate deposits in nature, most stretches of water and countless plants and animals contain huge amounts of calcium carbonate. The link between these natural resources is the calcium carbonate cycle. Plants and animals absorb calcium carbonate from water - where it exists, in most cases, in the dissolved form of calcium hydrogen carbonate Ca(HCO3)2 - and use it to build up their skeletons and shells. After their death, crustacea, coccoliths, algae and corals form sedimentary deposits on sea-beds, thus the rock forming process is put in motion. The first stage is the sedimentation process from which chalk and limestone originate. Chalk is a poorly compacted sedimentary calcium carbonate rock, whose diagenesis is incomplete. When the sedimentation process is completed this results in the formation of limestone. If the sedimentation process takes place in magnesium containing water a dolomitisation may occur. Part of the calcium ions in the crystal lattice are replaced by magnesium ions, a fact that leads to the formation of dolomite CaMg[CO3]2. Marble is a metamorphic rock, which is the result of a recrystallisation process of limestone, under conditions of high pressure and temperature. The carbonate rocks, chalk, limestone, dolomite and marble rocks are subject to erosion, under the influence of wind, temperature and water they dissolve, and the cycle may start again.

Calcium carbonate rocks are spread throughout the world, which is why they have been among the most widely used Calcium Carbonate raw materials for more than 5000 years. Long ago, the Egyptians built their pyramids with limestone, and today we still use hundred of millions of tonnes of calcium carbonate in the building industry alone. However, although the deposits are plentiful, only a few are of sufficiently high quality to be worked and even a fewer number of deposits will provide raw materials for industrial and agricultural uses other than the construction and roads building industry. Only if the purity, degree of whiteness, thickness and homogeneity are acceptable is commercial extraction worthwhile.

After quarrying, further treatment is required to process natural calcium carbonates of the highest quality, known generically as Ground Calcium Carbonate (GCC). Precipitated Calcium Carbonate (PCC) is a synthetic calcium carbonate produced industrially by means of a recarbonisation process. Both GCC or PCC can be used in a wide range of applications. For each end use there exists a tailor-made product, where fineness and particle size distribution are optimally balanced to meet the technical demands of that particular requirement.

MAIN APPLICATIONS INCLUDE

  • Paper
  • Coatings
  • Plastics/rubber
  • Cosmetics
  • Dental care metal
  • Lime & cement production
  • Glass
  • Environment
  • Agriculture
  • Ceramics
  • Refining