Slate is a mineral or a fine grained metamorphic rock formed from shale. Shale is a rock or a parent rock that is made up of clay minerals. It metamorphoses into various other rocks such as slate, phyllite, schist, or gnesis, when subjected to a varied degree of heat and pressure. Slate is the least metamorphosed rock that is available. It is strong and durable. Slate has a dull appearance and is available in various colors, ranging from dark grey, green, and purple to red. The color of the product primarily depends on the amount of iron and organic materials present in it.
Slate is mined from open pit quarries with the help of heavy machineries. It is foliated and easily splits into thin smooth-surfaced layers and flat and parallel planes. After mining, slate is transported for storage and processing. It primarily composes of mica or clay minerals subject to degree of metamorphism. Slate also contains some amount of quartz, feldspar, calcite, pyrite, hematite, and other minerals.
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Slate is primarily used for roofing, flooring, and flagging in the building & construction industry due to its high durability and attractive appearance. It is also used for interior flooring, exterior paving, dimension stone, and decorative aggregate. Slate absorbs minimal moisture, and stands up well in contact with freezing water. Therefore, it is used widely in the building & construction industry. High cost is the major drawback of the slate minerals market. Installation cost of slate is higher than that for other roofing materials. Therefore, demand for slate is primarily confined to high-end projects and prestige architecture. Slate is also used for making chalkboards, student writing slates, billiard tables, cemetery markers, whetstones, and tabletops. It is also employed for making electric panels and switch boxes, as it is a good insulator of electricity.
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Europe dominated the slate minerals market across the globe in 2016. It was followed by North America and Asia Pacific. Spain is a key producer and exporter of slate mineral in Europe. About 90% of slate used in roofing applications in Europe originates from the slate industry in Spain. The production of slate was estimated at 4 million tons per year in 2016. France was the prominent importer of slate in Europe in 2016. The country imported 24% of slate in the region in 2016. High demand for product in Europe and North America can be ascribed to the high standard of living of the people in these regions. High economic growth and significant investments in the building & construction industry in Asia Pacific are anticipated to boost the slate minerals market in the region. China and India are the major producers of slate in Asia Pacific. Japan was the key exporter of slate in 2016. Middle East & Africa and Latin America held low share of the slate minerals market in 2016. The market in these regions is anticipated to expand at a steady pace during the forecast period.
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Key players operating in the global slate minerals market include IAC Minerals Private Limited, Galaxy Impex, Galbanox, and Westone Natural Stone Slate Co. Ltd.