Ball clays are kaolinitic sedimentary clays that typically contain 20%–80% kaolinite, 10%–25% mica, and 6%–65% quartz. The content of localized seams in the same deposit varies, including the proportion of primary minerals, accessory minerals, and carbonaceous elements like lignite. These are fine-grained and flexible by nature, and when burnt, unlike most earthenware clays, these produce a high-quality white-colored pottery body, which is the secret to their appeal among potters.
Due to the geological variables required for production and preservation, ball clays are relatively rare. These have been mined in portions of the eastern United States and three locations in Dorset and Devon, England. Apart from their white color, these are extensively utilized in building numerous ceramic items, where their principal duty is to provide flexibility or enhance rheological stability during shaping procedures.
Ball clay has better dry shrinkage, strength, and plasticity than China clay. Ball clay is a secondary clay with significant levels of silica and iron, and titanium impurities. The ball clay can be ground to a very fine powder. In the green stage, the clay's small particles give remarkable flexibility and strength for product handling.
The ball clay casting rate is much lower than China clay when identical slip conditions (viscosity, fluidity, and density) are present. Due to its exceptional plasticity, ball clay is also used as a plasticizer, binder, and suspender in various applications.
Due to finer particle size, ball clay offers higher strength and workability. Ball clay is used in a variety of ceramic and non-ceramic applications. Ceramic applications include sanitaryware, wall and floor tiles, glazes and engobes, dinnerware, electrical porcelain insulators, and refractory clays. Growing demand for ceramic applications and the advantages of ball clay over other clays will likely boost market growth during the forecast period.
The Asia-Pacific sanitary ware market is driven by the region's rapidly rising population, especially in developing economies, and the growing need to decrease open defecation and maintain a hygienic environment among the region's widely scattered communities. The lack of well-maintained public/community toilets for underserved communities living in urban or peri-urban areas is a serious problem. Many countries, especially China and India, have responded by launching a slew of initiatives to drive the market for sanitary ware and, therefore, ball clay demand.
India and China are the two most populous nations on the planet. The increased focus on upgrading sanitation facilities in these countries, particularly in public and rural areas, is expected to drive market growth for sanitary ware. As a result, the ball clay market is expected to grow over the forecast period.
According to World Health Organization data, only 17% of people in Sub-Saharan Africa and 41% of people in Northern Africa had access to sanitation throughout the MDG period. By 2030, the World Health Organization hopes to eliminate open defecation and provide everyone with adequate sanitation, but attaining these goals will take time and money. The majority of Sub-Saharan African countries, followed by Eastern and Southeast Asian countries, lack adequate sanitation.
In Nigeria, 25% of the population still relies on open defecation due to a lack of basic sanitary infrastructure. Furthermore, more than half of all schools lack basic sanitation and running water.
Uganda is also one of the world's poorest countries. Kampala, Uganda's capital, aims to build 200 toilets by 2025 with the support of a German development agency, GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für International Zusammenarbeit GmbH). As various African countries' economies improve, sanitation in the region is expected to improve. Ethiopia, for example, has made significant investments in sanitary infrastructure.
In addition, the United Nations and the World Health Organization's goal of providing immediate sanitation access to everyone by 2030, combined with growing support from several European organizations and individual non-governmental organizations (NGOs), is expected to offer growth opportunities for the ball clay market during the forecast period.
The COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted the global ball clay market. Due to rigorous lockdown requirements and escalating safety concerns, over 60% of unit sales were delayed due to disruptions in manufacturers' delivery capacities. In addition, a scarcity of staff on-site disrupted residential and commercial construction operations worldwide, which slowed the growth of the ball clay market.
Various governments worldwide imposed the lockdown in the first nine months of 2020. As a result, several manufacturing plants and production facilities were forced to close or suspend operations. This reduced the need for ball clay products in a variety of applications. Similarly, most countries, including India, Italy, France, Poland, the United Kingdom, and South Africa, went into lockdown in 2020, hurting output in various industries and, as a result, market analysis.
For the global ball clay market, the post-pandemic period will be crucial. Supply chain interruptions might impede recovery, affecting market dynamics and product prices. The global market will also be challenged by distribution and transportation capacity constraints, unfavorable financial conditions, and rising costs. Limited manufacturing, support operations, labor shortages, and limits for other end-user industries, suppliers, and vendors may also prevent consumers from getting what they want. Overall, the global ball clay market recovery will be difficult.
North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, South America, the Middle East and Africa make up the market's five regions. The Asia-Pacific and Europe are the two most important markets for ball clay. China and India dominate the Asia-Pacific market. Ball clay is used in various construction applications, including sanitary ware, dinnerware, bricks, and various other ceramics. The Asia-Pacific ball clay market will likely rise as emerging economies' building sectors develop.
Europe is expected to be the second-largest ball clay market, with an expected market value of USD 212 million by 2030. Germany is Europe's largest user of ceramic items. Ceramic products, such as tiles, bricks, and sanitary ware, have advanced significantly. Significant consumer spending on residential and housing construction is another aspect driving market expansion. The growing demand for new residential infrastructure is the key driver of the European ceramics market.
Residential house development increased by 10% in 2020, according to the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), with 1 million new homes predicted to join the market by the end of 2021. Even though the US construction sector is anticipated to begin recovering in 2020, growth of the market is expected to heave during the forecast period in North America.
In South America, Brazil is the world's largest tyre producer, with companies such as Bridgestone do Brasil Industria e Comercio Ltda, Compania Goodyear do Brasil Productos de Borracha Ltd, Continental AG, Grupo Industria Brasil Ltda, Pirelli Pneus Ltda, Sociedade Michelin de Participacoes Industria e Comercio Ltda, and others. Furthermore, the country's increasing investments in tire production are likely to boost demand for ball clay, which is used as a filler.