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“White gold” – Kaolin

Kaolin – delivering the low carbon economy

White Gold

“White gold”

Historically used in the paper and ceramics industry, kaolin is now viewed as a “white gold” new economy commodity, able to play a pivotal role in carbon reduction across a range of industries when processed into metakaolin or High Purity Alumina (“HPA”).


Now recognised as one of the best cement substitutes in concrete production, metakaolin can enable the associated CO2 emissions of concrete to be reduced by up to 40% through reducing the amount of cement required in the process. To put this into context, the cement/concrete industry currently generates 8% of global CO2 emissions and around 25% of industrial emissions. If viewed as a country, this sector would be the third largest emitter behind China and US with every tonne of cement produced generating up to a tonne of CO2.

Improving concrete’s performance

Studies have also shown metakaolin can improve concrete’s flexibility and strength whilst reducing its permeability.



HPA is in increasingly high demand as it is used in smartphones, LEDs and – most significantly – lithium-ion batteries. Traditionally produced from aluminium metal, new technologies mean HPA can now be produced more economically from kaolin. This is now fuelling an ever-growing interest in, and demand for, high quality kaolin.

High Value

Dependent on quality, processed kaolin can fetch up to $400/t, untreated $10-20/t in bulk.

Carbon Credit

The cement industry is responsible for 8% of global man-made emissions and is rapidly investigating ways to reduce its carbon footprint. The use of kaolin as metakaolin in green concrete offers the sector the opportunity to both earn credits as well as generate additional revenue from trading carbon credits. Since the beginning of 2018, the price of a metric ton carbon credit on the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) has increased over 400% to north of €40 per metric ton. The Paris Agreement requires increased emissions reduction ambitions every 5 years without end; and this process looks likely to result in continued increasing demand for carbon credits driving up carbon credit prices.