Nepheline syenite is an igneous rock which is formed out of molten magma in the absence of silica. Nepheline syenite is similar to granite and constitutes three types of minerals which are the microcline form of feldspar, the albite form of feldspar and nepheline. Their percentage varies - microline constitutes 25 %, nepheline 22% and albite 55% respectively. In glassmaking, alumina from feldspar enhances durability, product hardness and resistance to chemical corrosion. In ceramics, feldspar is used as a flux, lowering the vitrifying temperature of a ceramic body during firing and forming a glassy phase. In glass and ceramics, nepheline syenite, provides alkalis that act as a flux to lower the melting temperature of ceramic mixture and glass, prompting faster melting and fuel saving. In glass, nepheline syenite supplies alumina, which gives enhanced resistance to scratching and breaking. Nepheline syenite has a high strength and excellent weather-resistant properties, which are useful in the construction industry. Nepheline syenite enhances the workability of the glass batch by lowering the viscosity, and it imparts a unique quality of toughness to the glass, which makes glass resistant to breakage. The alumina in nepheline syenite increases resistance to breaking and scratching, increases chemical durability and improves thermal endurance. The low iron content provides the necessary whiteness of the powdered material utilized for clear glass and other end uses, such as extender pigments, fiberglass and fillers. Major deposits of nepheline syenite can be found in Khibiny Complex, Russia; Ontario, U.S.; Norway, Canaan, Brazil; Quebec, Canada; Gardar Alkaline Province, Greenland; Loch Borolan (Borralan), Scotland; Iivaara Complex, Finland; Koga Complex, Pakistan; Sichuan, China; Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Norra Karr, Sweden; and Mexico.
The increase in demand from major markets such as glass, filters, adhesives and ceramics is expected to increase demand for nepheline syenite. In addition, rising demand from emerging economies of Asia Pacific and Latin America is expected to further boost demand for nepheline syenite. Furthermore, environmental regulations and compliance with hygiene standards are some of the factors which are expected to fuel the market. However, fluctuating raw material prices and availability of substitutes is expected to hamper market growth.
Europe is the largest market for feldspar and nepheline syenite followed by Asia Pacific and North America. Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Germany, and France are the major consumers of feldspar and nepheline syenite in Europe.Asia Pacific is the fastest growing market for feldspar and nepheline syenite due to increasing demand from emerging economies. China and India are major consumers of feldspar and nepheline syenite in Asia Pacific. Latin America is also expected to be a major consumer of feldspar and nepheline syenite due to presence of established end user industries.
The market is dominated by large and medium mining companies. Some of the key players in this market are Unimin Corporation (U.S), The Feldspar Corp (U.S.), Eczacibasi Esan (Turkey), Imerys SA (France), Pacer Corporation (U.S.), Zemex Industrial Minerals (U.S.), Gruppo Minerali Maffei SPA (Italy), Monto Minerals Limited (Australia), Sibelco Nordic AS (Norway), North Cape Minerals AS Apatit Production Association (Russia), North Cape Minerals AS (U.S.) and Fineton Industrial Minerals Ltd. (Hong Kong) among others. Companies are investing in distribution system with a focus on expansion in emerging markets. Companies are concentrating on regions such as Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe and Latin America, as demand is declining in saturated markets such as Western Europe and North America.