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Zemex's industrial minerals division is comprised of The Feldspar Corporation (TFC), Suzorite Mica Products Inc. (Suzorite), Suzorite Mineral Products, Inc. (SMP), Zemex Fabi-Benwood, LLC, Zemex Industrial Minerals, Inc. and Zemex Mica Corporation (ZMC) (collectively, Zemex Industrial Minerals or ZIM). Each of these companies is either directly or indirectly a wholly owned subsidiary of Zemex, except for Zemex Fabi-Benwood, LLC, of which Zemex owned 60% at year end, and which was sold in March 2001.
TFC has mining and processing facilities in Edgar, Florida; Monticello, Georgia; and Spruce Pine, North Carolina. Using traditional methods, TFC mines sodium feldspar from two different ore deposits in the Spruce Pine area. Potassium feldspar is mined from two deposits close to the Monticello plant. TFC's kaolin and sand products are recovered by dredging and wet separation at the Edgar property. All mined and recovered products are subjected to standard and proprietary milling and drying techniques.
TFC produces numerous products at its operating plants, including sodium and potassium feldspar, silica, low iron sand, muscovite mica and kaolin clay. Feldspathic materials are key ingredients for the ceramic industry, and are incorporated into the production of ceramic floor and wall tiles, dinnerware, plumbing fixtures, glazes and electrical insulators. TFC supplies its products primarily to the glass and ceramics industries. Feldspar and certain grades of industrial sand are also used to manufacture bottles, jars and other glass containers, fiberglass, paints and plastics, and television picture tubes. Industrial sand is used for filter, filler, beach sand, blasting and concrete applications. TFC also produces a low-iron sand product for use in highly specialized glass applications.
Suzorite mines phlogopite mica in an open pit mining operation in Suzor Township, Quebec, Canada, approximately 300 kilometers north of Montreal, Quebec. The ore is mined by standard open pit methods and delivered to a siding for transportation by rail to the processing plant, which is located in Boucherville, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal. Because of its distinct thermal stability advantage over competitive materials, phlogopite mica is used to impart rigidity in technological and high-temperature plastic applications. Suzorite's phlogopite mica is used as a partial or complete substitute for asbestos in fire retardation. It is also used in friction materials, oil well drilling needs, caulking and molding compounds, coatings, plasters and plastics. The principal markets served by Suzorite are the automobile, construction and oil drilling industries. These products are marketed under the trade names Suzorite Mica and Suzorex.
SMP produces talc and other minerals at Natural Bridge, New York; Murphy, North Carolina; Van Horn, Texas; and Benwood, West Virginia. SMP purchases talc for conversion and processing at its plant in Natural Bridge, and processes products directed primarily to the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. The production facility in Van Horn processes talc mined in proximity to the plant for the coatings, plastics and ceramics industries. The Benwood operation processes a wide range of talc products from imported raw materials for ultimate use in the plastics industry. The Murphy plant purchases raw materials and produces baryte products, primarily for the oil drilling and coatings industries.
In February 1998, Industria Mineraria Fabi S.r.l. (Fabi), a European talc producer, became an investor in the Company's talc facility located in Benwood, West Virginia, by acquiring a 40% interest in a new limited liability company, Zemex Fabi-Benwood, LLC. In March 2001, Zemex sold its Natural Bridge, New York, talc facility and its 60% joint venture interest in its Benwood, West Virginia, talc facility to Fabi.