Originally created 07/01/00

Company buys Albion Kaolin



Albion Kaolin Co., whose Hephzibah clay mine employs about 80 people, has been purchased by a Connecticut-based mining and minerals company.

Unimin Corp. of New Canaan, Conn., purchased the 1,500-acre mine for an undisclosed amount in May from Albion's parent company, Sud-Chemie Inc., the North American subsidiary of German mineral company Sud-Chemie AG.

The deal, which includes Albion's mine in McIntyre, Ga., was not announced to the local market.

It is still unknown how many, if any, jobs will be lost through consolidation or if changes are planned for the century-old mine. Officials with Unimin Corp. declined to comment on the purchase Friday.

Officials at Sud-Chemie Inc.'s Louisville, Ky., headquarters also declined to comment Friday.

The facility currently operates under the Unimin name.

Industrial Specialities News, an industry trade publication, reported Unimin purchased the kaolin supplier to strengthen its position as a leading supplier of minerals to the glass and ceramics industry, a market it entered by acquiring United Clays Inc. last year.

Unimin, which sells ball clay, kaolin and talc, has been the leading supplier of silica sand and feldspathic minerals in North America.

Albion is the world's largest supplier of air-floated kaolin, a less expensive variety used primarily as filler in ceramics, rubber and insulation. Water-wash kaolin is used primarily by the paper industry.

Sud-Chemie purchased the McIntyre site from Evans Clay Co in 1998.

The sale of Sud-Chemie's Albion division leaves the company with four major domestic businesses, which adopted their German parent company's name earlier this year: catalysts (formerly United Catalysts), cat litter and absorbents (formerly Waverly Mineral), performance packaging (formerly United Desiccants), and rheological and performance additives.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486.