Starting in the late 1970s, we began our journey at Podmore and Sons Ltd, based in Stoke-on-Trent, UK. Podmore specialised in manufacturing and supplying a range of frits, glazes, ceramic raw materials and equipment to worldwide markets. Among other zirconia related activities (such as using zircon), Podmore was processing a natural zirconia (Baddeleyite) feedstock from Palabora Mining Co Ltd (PMC). The Palabora mine was a volcanic column of high-grade Copper ore, located in Phalaborwa, South Africa. An impurity removed in order to obtain the Copper ore was Baddeleyite. One of the largest customers for this rare and amazing mineral was Daichi Kigenso Kagaku Kogyo Co. Ltd (DKKK), a zirconia ceramic powder specialist, based in Japan. This led to Podmore and DKKK developing a partnership to promote processed zirconia powders into worldwide markets.
In the early 1980s, sections of the Podmore business transferred to the newly established Minerals and Chemicals division of Mandoval Ltd. Mandoval was a wholly-owned subsidiary of PMC, which in turn was also part of Rio Tinto Plc. Mandoval was established in the mid-1940s to market another mineral found at Palabora, Vermiculite (a magnesia-alumina-silicate ore). The Minerals and Chemicals division of Mandoval was subsequently created to sell products to markets serviced by Baddeleyite sales, and promote other chemicals into the Rio Tinto group.
Towards the middle of the 1990s, the open cast/surface mining operation of the Palabora mine was reaching its limit, and became an underground mining operation. As a result, the Baddeleyite originally obtained was no longer available. Due to this and other factors, Rio Tinto decided to stop their involvement in zirconia and zirconium chemicals, which resulted in the closure of the Minerals and Chemicals division of Mandoval Ltd.
The management team of the Minerals and Chemicals division had developed an extremely strong business trading in non-Baddeleyite products, which led to a management buyout in the year 2000. As we were so well known as the Minerals and Chemicals division, often referred to as ‘Minchem’, we decided to keep the name and form Minchem Ltd.
Minchem Ltd now offers a range of specialised inorganic and mineral-based products for use in world markets in Abrasives, Animal Feed, Catalysts (Industrial and Auto), Ceramics (Advanced, Dental, Fine & Technical), Chemical Manufacture, Coatings, Electronics, Healthcare, Leather Tanning, Metal Finishing, Paper & Board, Nuclear, Pharmaceuticals, Refractories (Cement, Glass & Steel) & related areas.
Carrying on from PMC’s market leader position in Baddeleyite Zr products, Minchem’s baseline is mainly in Zr Oxides and Reactive Zr Chemicals. In addition, we supply various forms of Aluminium, Cobalt, Potassium, Sodium, Titanium, Nickel and other Salts. Marketing of these niche products is covered by Agency / Distributorship / Special arrangements with manufacturers from around the world.
We act on behalf of leading chemical manufacturers, offering a wide range of types, grades and batch sizes allowing us to offer optimised products to customer’s specific needs.
To complement the technical services and product range offered by Minchem Ltd, in 2006 we acquired the Hines Milling & Processing Ltd business in Stoke-on-Trent, UK. Locally known as HMP, this business was rebranded as Minchem HMP Ltd. This strategic acquisition added a highly regarded and trusted manufacturing base to our newly formed Minchem Group. Minchem HMP is a well-established manufacturer and supplier of a range of products based on zircon, zirconia, alumina and related materials. Minchem HMP also offer contract processing including wet and dry milling, classifying, blending and mixing, all of which are undertaken with very high levels of control, quality and consistency. Their extensive range of products includes – Ceramic Opacifiers, Fine Powders, Cement, Paints and Coatings, Ramming compositions, Patches and Castables in both zircon and zircon-alumina grades. These are supplied into a range of diverse markets worldwide, such as Abrasives, Ceramics, Ceramic Colours, Electrical Insulation, Frits, Glass, Glazes, Kiln Furniture, Metal filtration, Paints, Pigments, Refractories, Welding Electrodes and a host of other technical applications.
Further to the acquisition of the Hines Milling & Processing business Minchem also became a shareholder in ACCS Ltd, and this company was slowly incorporated from 2008 into the Minchem Group. ACCS Ltd specialises in the provision of protective lining systems for acid/alkali corrosive environments. They provide design, technical support, material manufacture and supply, installation, supervision and inspection services for a range of industries across the world. Major markets are the oil refining, petrochemical, acid manufacturing, fertiliser, nuclear, and mining industries. ACCS Ltd is based out of the same Stoke-on-Trent, UK, facility.
In our efforts to remain resilient to the ever-changing market, and provide the highest level of service to our clients, in 2019 we set up Minchem Europe Srl in Milan, Italy. This company was specifically set up to assist the general activities of Minchem Ltd (and the Minchem Group as a whole) in dealing with issues associated with REACH registrations and Brexit.