Dolomite is used in the manufacture of automotive and construction glass as well as fibre glass and light bulbs.
The majority of Mill Creek’s speciality dolomite is sold to manufacturers of flat glass in the United States. Flat glass, sometimes referred to as float glass, which describes the manufacturing process, is used primarily in the construction and automotive industries. Flat glass is produced by discharging a stream of molten glass from a furnace and “floating” it on a bath of molten metal (usually tin) to produce a flat sheet of glass of uniform thickness. This produces high quality glass used for windows, doors and automotive windshields.
Mill Creek also sells to manufacturers of glass fibre and light bulbs.
The principal raw ingredients in flat glass manufacturing are sand, soda ash and limestone. Dolomite is also added as it improves the viscosity of the glass melt and increases the scratch and chemical resistance of the glass. The composition and properties of Mill Creek’s high purity dolomite makes it well suited for glass manufacturing.
Demand growth for flat glass is driven by economic growth and, to a lesser extent, by regulations governing safety, noise and energy efficiency. Approximately 80% of flat glass is used in buildings with the balance split between autos and special applications, including solar panels. Recent growth in the North American glass market is a result of a rebound in the construction industry, as well as the use of more glass in auto designs and architecture. The use of specialty or value added glass is growing more rapidly than the overall growth of flat glass as legislation aimed at improving energy efficiency has generated demand for more coated glass in buildings and autos and increased demand for solar panels.
The main markets for flat glass use are China, Europe and North America. Four companies produce approximately 50% of the world’s good quality flat glass. All four companies have flat glass operations in North America. Mill Creek’s dolomite operation in Oklahoma is ideally located to supply float glass plants in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.