High quality industrial garnet is a hard, heavy, and durable crystal-shaped mineral that can sustain significant impact without getting deformed. These properties yield superior performance as an abrasive for blasting and waterjet cutting. Garnet can typically be recycled multiple times and alleviated the occupational hazards posed by slags and silica sand. High-quality garnet typically features superior performance, cost-efficiency, sustainability, and reduced occupational hazard compared to abrasive blasting with slags.

Despite an exponential growth in global garnet production in the late 1990s and early 2000s garnet represents only a moderate share of a market for abrasive media that in recent times has been dominated by waste by-products, e.g., slags from coal-fired power plants (coal slags) and metal smelting furnaces (metal slags). Supply of waste by-products, especially coal slags, remains in a continuous decline in both the EU and the US. For garnet this has meant two things, solid demand fundamentals and a market price environment with very stable historic prices and a positive outlook.

Europe has no industrial garnet mines and supply of coal slags continue to decline. Lack of alternatives and access to medium-to-fine garnet has led European customers to adopt use of finer grain sizes relative to many other markets. Garnet is typically distributed in moderate quantities to numerous end-customers. Distribution requires local presence (“boots on the ground”) and a majority is hence channelled through distributors and large industrial mineral players. On one hand this deters garnet miners from establishing in-house sales and distribution, but concurrently it enables new mine developments, like ours, to go straight into a significant production rate and still secure full product utilisation.

Europe’s shortage of construction aggregates has enabled Norway to double its aggregate exports over the last 10 years at steadily increasing prices. Tailings without chemicals and of good quality can be utilised as construction material in large quantities both in Norway and in Europe.

Global rutile demand has outgrown supply leading to a positive price trend. Lack of rutile supply has also caused redundant rutile beneficiation capacity and interest for non-magnetic concentrates featuring high rutile grades.


Garnet, application, users & properties

Garnet is mainly used for abrasive blasting and waterjet cutting. Garnet is primarily extracted from mineral sand deposits (beaches, rivers, sand dunes), with smaller volumes mined from hard rock. Hard rock garnet, such as in our deposit, feature sharper edges that enable faster grinding and cutting. Durable garnet can be recycled and reused multiple times.

Garnet vs substitutes

The term sand blasting was originally derived from blasting with quartz sand (“silica sand”). This sand is easily accessible, affordable and works well as an abrasive, but when used in sand blasting, it releases free-crystalline silicates, the main cause of silicosis, a lethal lung disease considered the oldest occupational disease globally. Due to high mortality, the EU and the US banned the use of silica sand as an abrasive blast media. Insufficient access to affordable alternatives unfortunately means that silica sand remains the most widely abrasive blast media globally – with significant volumes used in developing countries.

The second most used abrasive blast media is coal and metal slags, i.e., waste by-products from coal-fired power plants and metal smelters. As waste by-products these media are inexpensive and some also feature fairly good blasting performance. However, some slags, if used as abrasive blast media pose elevated risks of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to blasters. Some slags also contain toxic substances (e.g., arsenic and beryllium). Access to slag products remains in decline due to ongoing retrofitting of coal-fired power plants with technology that eliminates slag production, as well as a continuous reduction of coal-fired power generation.

High-quality garnet, such as in the Vevring deposit, replaces the use of silica sand and slags for abrasive blasting, with superior performance and cost per square meter. It is also, by and large, the only abrasive media used in waterjet cutting.


Garnet is an attractive industrial mineral

Garnet is just one of several abrasive media. High-quality garnet features superior performance and cost-efficiency compared to most alternatives. Use of garnet also replaces use of hazardous media, reduces occupational hazards, and yields unique properties for sand blasting and waterjet cutting. Garnet is a commercially attractive industrial mineral with growing demand; however, growth in market volumes remain subdued due to lack of supply.


Garnet is in demand

Garnet is an attractive industrial mineral in solid demand that experiences limited price volatility. The ban for using silica sand as an abrasive blast media in Europe and the US and the continuous reduction in coal slag supply contributes to positive demand outlook.


The European market features significant excess garnet demand, especially of the grain sizes and qualities that can be recovered from the Vevring-Engebo deposit. The deposits’ location, adjacent to the Forde fjord and near the North Sea, offers a major logistical advantage for shipments to Europe over other garnet mines globally.

No industrial garnet mining in Europe and a dwindling supply of major alternative blast media has forced European blast media customers to adapt to using medium-to-fine grain sizes. As an illustration, surface preparation with abrasive blasting need to yield two things for new paint to stick – a clean surface with sufficient profile. The thicker the paint, the deeper the required surface profile. Insufficient access to coarse abrasive media has led European end-customers to start using thinner paint and hence reduce the required surface profile and concurrent demand for coarse abrasives.


Limited vertical integration – distribution through an offtaker

Garnet is typically distributed in moderate quantities to numerous end-customers. Distribution requires local presence (“boots on the ground”) and a majority is hence channelled through distributors and large industrial mineral players. Most players, including pure garnet players, partner with independent distributors downstream and independent miners upstream (to complement in-house garnet production). On one hand this deters garnet miners from establishing in-house sales and distribution, but concurrently it enables new mine developments, like ours, to go straight into a significant production rate and still secure full product utilisation.

A new source of high-quality garnet that is logistically advantaged for distribution to Europe is of strategic value to the right player. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with an industrial minerals company for 100% offtake from start of production.

Global garnet mining mainly takes place at mineral deposits in India, China, Australia, and South Africa with more moderate amounts mined in the US. Neither Europe nor the Middle East have any meaningful garnet mining on their own.


Europe needs crushed rock from Norway

Europe has insufficient access to aggregates for major infrastructure developments, such as road construction, in close vicinity of northern Europe. Marine transport of aggregates is generally much cheaper than land-based transport. Norway has a lot of mountains located close to deep waters that also feature good properties for aggregate applications (compression strength, wearability, etc.). Combined these two factors have led to a doubling of aggregate exports from Norway over the last 10 years.

External sales of tailings from a mine in Vevring

A chemical-free mineral recovery and inert (chemically stable) minerals yield tailings that can be used in multiple applications.

Such applications include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Fine-grained aggregates for infrastructure developments such as roads and industrial areas
  • Fine-grained aggregates for dike developments, especially when combined with our high-density coarse aggregates
  • Top cover for contaminated seabed
  • Soil improvement

Alternative utilisations are contingent on tailings being stored in a way that enables fast and cost-efficient dispatch of large volumes directly onto bulk vessels. Our operation will feature a large volume underground silo battery with automatic dischargers, conveyor belts and ship loaders.


Rutile – shortage of new supply due to historic fixed-price contracts

Pure rutile consists of titanium dioxide. Similar to garnet, rutile products only represent a moderate share of a larger market dominated by major alternative products, in this case ilmenite. Historically, long-term rutile offtake contracts with insufficient price adjustments limited profitability for many rutile miners, in turn leading to underinvestment in exploration and development activities. Rutile prices soared as the offtake contracts expired, whereafter it dropped, but then to a significantly higher level than before. Insufficient new supply has contributed to a continued upwards trend since.

Rutile is currently exclusively mined from mineral sand deposits, often as a by-product of other minerals such as zircon and ilmenite. Redundant rutile beneficiation capacity has allowed some mining companies to only carry out only partial rutile recovery and ship the semi-finished concentrate to external parties. According to internet news releases a Chinese garnet mining company, RZG Garnet Mining Co. Ltd, is planning to develop a rutile beneficiation plant based on hard rock material from a rutile-bearing eclogite deposit.