Thanks to an acquisition momentum and organic growth efforts, Imerys, the world leader in mineral-based specialties, has capitalized on its long industrial experience.
Origin: mining and metallurgy
The Group’s origins were in mining and in metallurgy. Created in April 1880, its core business remained the extraction and processing of non ferrous metals for almost a century. The 1970’s were the first turning point. A holding company brought the group’s companies together under the name Imetal, then diversified and extended its activity.
- In the early 1970s federated under the name Imetal, the Group acquired the French company Huguenot Fenal, an event which marked its entry into the clay roof tiles market. It then purchased Copperweld Corporation (United States), a company specialized in steel production and metals processing.
- In 1985 the first significant investment in refractory minerals and ceramics was made with the acquisition of Damrec (France). The Group then structured its business around three sectors: Building Materials, Industrial Minerals and Metals Processing. This reorganization is part of the Group’s future withdrawal from non-ferrous metallurgy activities.
- From 1990 onwards, the Group placed significant emphasis on the development of industrial minerals. It acquired major positions in the kaolin sector (Dry Branch Kaolin Company, United States), calcium carbonate (Georgia Marble, United States), refractory minerals (C-E Minerals, United States), monolithic refractories (Plibrico, Luxembourg), ball clays (Ceratera, France) and ceramic bodies (KPCL, France) and technical ceramics markets (IKF, France). Through its subsidiary Timcal (North America, Europe, Asia), acquired in 1994, Imerys has become the world leader in technical applications of high performance graphite.
- In 1999 with the acquisition of English China Clays plc (ECC, United Kingdom), one of the foremost specialists in industrial minerals, the Group became a global leader in white pigments. The Group continued to increase its kaolin resources by acquiring Rio Capim Caulim S.A. (Brazil) and pursued its industrial base expansion in refractory minerals with Transtech and Napco (United States) and Rhino Minerals (South Africa). Through the acquisition of ECC and the related divestment of Copperweld (United States) and ECC’s specialty chemicals business (Calgon, United States), the Group focused on industrial minerals processing. To reflect this development, Imetal changed its name to Imerys. Since then, Imerys has been pursuing its development by continuously expanding its product line, extending its geographic network into high growth areas and entering new markets
- 2000 - 2002 new minerals were added to the Group’s portfolio: halloysite (New Zealand China Clays, New Zealand) and clays and feldspar (K-T Clay, United States and Mexico). The Group increased its carbonates resources in South America (Quimbarra, Brazil), in Asia (Honaik, Malaysia) and in France (AGS-BMP’s carbonates activity). The takeover of the world’s leading producer of corundum (fused alumina and bauxite), Treibacher Schleifmittel (Austria), is followed by more acquisitions in this sector in the Czech Republic, Germany, Brazil and China). The Group increased its Asian market presence for applications that mainly serve the sanitaryware industry with the acquisition of MRD-ECC (Thailand), a local kaolin producer.
- Early 2005 the acquisition of Lafarge Refractaires Monolithiques enabled Imerys to become the European leader in monolithic refractories. The merger of these activities with Plibrico, acquired a few years earlier, led to the creation of a new entity, Calderys. In July, Imerys acquired World Minerals (United States), world leader in filtration and performance minerals, bringing in new minerals: diatomite and perlite. The year ended with the acquisition of Denain Anzin Minerals adding feldspar, mica, quartz, kaolin deposits in Europe.
- 2006 – 2008 the Group continued to grow: calcined clays with specalists AGS (France) and Vatutinsky (Ukraine), extensive reserves of high quality white marble in Malaysia, China and Vietnam as well as Europe, and feldspar mines in India (Jumbo Mining), the United States (The Feldspar Corporation) and Turkey. The acquisition of ACE, the Indian leader in monolithic refractories, gave Calderys a new dimension, reinforced by B&B (South Africa) and Svenska Silika Verken AB (Sweden). Imerys added fused zircon, a mineral for the refractory, technical ceramics and automotive markets to its portfolio, becoming the world leader with the successive acquisitions of UCM Group Plc (United Kingdom) and Astron China. Perlite activities were bolstered in South America with the acquisition of Perfiltra in Argentina. The acquisitions of Kings Mountain Minerals, Inc. (North Carolina, United States) and Suzorite Mining, Inc. (Quebec, Canada) added high quality mica to the Group’s mineral portfolio.
- In 2010 the commissioning of a new plant increased andalusite production capacity in China. The acquisition of Pará Pigmentos S.A. increased the Group’s kaolin resources in Brazil.
- In 2011 Imerys acquired the Luzenac Group and became the world leader in talc processing. A production unit was inaugurated in Andersonville (Georgia, United States) to provide ceramic proppant, used to keep fractures open in non-conventional oil and gas exploration. Through the joint venture “The Quartz Corp SAS” created with the Norwegian group Norsk Mineral AS, the Group can serve the increasing demand of high purity quartz in semiconductor and photovoltaic markets. In Malaysia, the production capacity of the calcium carbonate plant was extended and in Japan, the Miyagi plant, rebuilt after the tsunami, also increased its production capacity to meet higher demand from its main customer.
- In 2012 the Group enhanced product offering in Brazil for the paint, polymer and rubber markets with the acquisition of Itatex and refractory activities with a refractory bauxite deposit from the Vale Group.
- In 2013 several acquisitions are made throughout the Group’s businesses: PyraMax Ceramics LLC (United States), an industrial complex for manufacturing ceramic proppants, Goonvean kaolin activities (United Kingdom), Ceraminas (Thailand) a local feldspar producing company. To support growing demand from mobile energy segments, the Group doubled the capacity of the Willebroek carbon black plant (Belgium). The construction of the lime production plant in Deresopolis (Brazil) was completed and the plant went into production. Arefcon b.v. (Netherlands), Indoporlen (Indonesia) and Tokai (Japan) were integrated in the Group’s Monolithic Refractories division. The sale of Imerys Structure (brick walls and partitions, and flues) to Bouyer Leroux-group (France) is finalized.
- In 2014 the acquisition of Termorak strengthened the Group’s position in the design and installation of refractory materials for the petrochemical and thermal industries. The Group expanded its geographical footprint in natural calcium carbonate with the integration of Kinta Powdertec Sdn Bhd (Malaysia). An applied R&D center opened in Japan to support the Graphite and Carbone’s major local customers. The fused alumina production plant in Bahrain, whose construction was initiated in 2012, went into production. This joint-venture with Al Zayani Investments group, Imerys’ first industrial base in the Middle East, enabled the Group to enlarge its business activities in this region. At the same time the Group disposed of four calcium carbonate paper plants in Europe and the United States as well as a production plant in Tunisia, and closed down the Ardoisières d’Angers site.
- In 2015, Imerys completed the acquisition of S&B. A global player and European leader in bentonite (binders for foundry, sealing solutions, additives for drilling and functional additives), S&B is also the world leader in continuous casting fluxes for steel and in wollastonite (functional additives for polymers and paints). It also provides perlite-based solutions used in building materials and horticulture. Imerys also completed the acquisition of the Precipitated Calcium Carbonate (PCC) division of Solvay, Europe’s leading producer of fine and ultra-fine PCC, which is used as a functional additive in specialty applications. It operates 4 plants in Europe (Austria, France, Germany, UK) and mainly serves the automotive (polymers, etc.), construction (paints, coatings, sealants) and consumer goods (health & beauty) markets. The acquisition of Matisco, a specialized manufacturer of metal accessories for roofing, has allowed the Imerys Group to broaden its offering for the roofing market in France by integrating a wide range of accessories (rainwater drainage profiles, waterproofing). The Group also acquired BASF’s paper hydrous kaolin (PHK) activity in the US. This transaction has enabled Imerys to improve its service offering for the paper industry through optimization of its production assets.
- In 2016 Imerys strengthened its natural graphite mining resources through a joint venture in Namibia, and has also created FiberLean ™ Technologies, to develop Micro Fibrillated Cellulose applications. Imerys acquired from the Alteo group its specialty alumina activities that were integrated into the Fused Minerals division. The Group completed its geographical positioning for monolithic refractories by acquiring SPAR, a North American monolithic refractory producer, mainly serving the petrochemical, power generation, cement and incineration industries, and expanded its service offering by integrating the Swedish company Fagersta Eldfasta. Imerys also acquired Damolin, a Danish producer of mineral solutions based on bentonite and moler, a mineral with absorbent properties for oils and chemicals, animal feed and cat litter.
- In 2017, Imerys completed the acquisition of Kerneos, the world leader in calcium aluminate-based high-performance binders. The Group also completed several bolt-on acquisitions in 2017, which contributed ca. €130.0 million to revenue for the financial year and enabled Imerys to broaden its specialty offering and develop its geographic presence in emerging countries such as Brazil, India and particularly China.
- In 2018, Imerys simplified its organization for greater customer focus and to further leverage its successful repositioning as a specialty minerals company by creating 5 new business areas built around core markets. (to know more, see the page “Markets”)