Global Attapulgite Market to Log 8.30% CAGR to 2020 fueled by Growing Number of End-Use Applications
Attapulgite is a crystalline hydrated magnesium aluminosilicate that contains three dimensional chain structures, which give it unique colloidal and sorptive properties. Attapulgite is a naturally occurring clay mineral that belongs to the fuller’s earth family of minerals. Attapulgite offers high porosity and unique colloidal properties such as resistance to higher concentration of electrolytes and high surface area. Based on its physical and chemical characteristics, attapulgite is primarily classified as colloidal grade (gelling grade) and sorptive grade (non-colloidal sorbent grade). Attapulgite finds applications in end-use industries such as paints & coatings, oil & gas, cat litter, medical & pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, paper and chemical.
Attapulgite is primarily used to manufacture cat litter absorbents. Cat litter absorbents manufactured using attapulgite offer prompt absorption of litter and unpleasant odor. In addition, the growing preference of pet owners for organic and natural cat litter absorbents is expected to boost demand for attapulgite, especially in developed countries such as the U.S and UK Increase in drilling activities is likely to augment the growth of the attapulgite market. Attapulgite is used in drilling applications solely because of its suspending properties in oil and grease. It is used for drilling mud of a higher salinity than seawater. Thus, growth in drilling activities, especially in oil and gas extraction and construction activities is anticipated to boost the demand for attapulgite in the coming years. At the end of 2013, the U.S. was the largest producer of attapulgite due to the presence of large mineral reserves in the country. However, stringent mining regulations in the U.S. are expected to hamper the growth of the attapulgite market in the near future. Increasing demand in various end-use industries is also likely to open new avenues for the attapulgite market in the next few years.
The colloidal grade attapulgite (gelling grade) segment dominated the global attapulgite market, accounting for over 65% share in 2013 in terms of volume. Colloidal grade attapulgite is consumed in large quantities in end-use industries such as oil and gas, chemicals, cosmetics, and paints and coatings. The segment is expected to witness the fastest growth during the forecast period due to its use in a wide range of applications such as adhesives, sealants, caulks, drilling mud, liquid pesticides, liquid detergents, animal feed and suspension fertilizers to provide reinforcement, suspension and binding.
Cat litter absorbent and oil & gas were the largest end-use industries in the global attapulgite market in 2013. These segments together accounted for over 60% of the global attapulgite market in 2013 in terms of volume. Development of innovative cat litter absorbents that are eco-friendly, neutralize bad odor and quickly congeal after soiling is expected to augment the cat litter absorbent segment during the forecast period. The oil & gas segment is likely to witness the fastest growth in the attapulgite market during the forecast period due to increasing drilling activities across the world. Furthermore, the medical & pharmaceutical segment is anticipated to witness the second-fastest growth in the attapulgite market due to rising consumer preference for naturally derived products over synthetic medicines. Additionally, the paints & coatings segment is projected to exhibit above average growth, as traditional organic thickeners are being replaced with attapulgite in the manufacture of water insensitive films.
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North America dominated the global attapulgite market, accounting for approximately 35% share in 2013. Abundant attapulgite-rich fuller’s earth deposits in North America are expected to boost demand for attapulgite in the next few years. Restrictions on the use of synthetic chemicals due to stringent environmental regulations are anticipated to favor the use of natural products such as attapulgite. However, Asia Pacific is projected to witness the fastest growth in the attapulgite market during the forecast period due to rapid industrialization, which would lead to an increase in construction and drilling activities. Furthermore, growth of the healthcare sector in the region is likely to drive the attapulgite market in the next few years.
The global attapulgite market was highly consolidated, with the top two players accounting for approximately 57% share of the total market in 2013. Active Minerals International was the largest attapulgite manufacturer in 2013, followed by BASF. Other key players operating in the attapulgite market include MinTech International, Inc., Oil-Dri Corporation of America, Gunjan Minerals Pvt. Ltd., Geohellas S.A., Gujarat Minechem, Ashwa Minerals Private Limited and Manek Minerals.