The Market is Waking Up to Halloysite

Updated: Apr 13

Noel Ong, CEO of Samso clears the air on halloysite - an emerging material with game-changing green potential.

Halloysite is the lesser-known cousin of the common kaolin, and is potentially stealing the spotlight with its use in specialised green technologies and biomedical applications.

South Australia is positioned to be the biggest Halloysite mineral resource in the world. This is James Marsh's take on this new up-and-coming mineral. In fact, it was when Andromeda Metals Limited (ASX: ADN) first made news of their deposit in South Australia that the mineral resources investing community in the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) first sat up and took notice of halloysite.

The humble halloysite has always been used as an alternative raw material to kaolinite for ceramics. Since 2005, halloysite has started to make a few heads turn. And today, we are looking at an exponential increase in research aimed at Halloysite Nanotubes (HNTs).

So for now, we have Andromeda Metals Limited keenly interested in halloysite, and just one other company, Suvo Strategic Minerals Limited (ASX: SUV), that is promoting the same story.

Halloysite is a unique mineral, so there is still a lack of information and clear understanding about this mineral.

What is Halloysite?

Basically, it is a unique form of kaolin. Kaolin is an industrial clay, sometimes known as 'china clay' and halloysite is part of the same subgroup of clay minerals as kaolinite.

Everything you want to know about Halloysite
Everything you want to know about Halloysite

It is a relatively rare mineral, and yet it is experiencing a sustained increase in demand due to its extensive applications in new age industries. That is why it is making the heads of global investors turn. Call it an emerging material or what you will, there is an interesting story to dig up here with halloysite.

For the hardcore geologists among us, halloysite is a 1:1 dioctahedral clay mineral that has been studied widely for applications in nanotechnology and as a mineral exploration guide for recognising regolith-hosted heavy rare earth element (HREE) deposits. [1]

Halloysite structure
Figure 1: (a) Straight, regular halloysite microtubles from Camel Lake. (b) Halloysite crystal morphology and atomic structure. (Photo 414524) [2]

According to [2], halloysite is a relatively common mineral that often crystallises together with kaolinite; the two polymorphs of kaolin are not easily separated. Deposits suitable for commercial development are, however, comparatively rare and occur either as relatively pure masses of halloysite (e.g. Dragon Mine, Utah; Camel Lake) or as large, lower-grade sources from which halloysite can be readily separated (e.g. Matauri Bay deposits, New Zealand).

Geological setting of halloysite deposits formed by acid groundwater at the Camel Lake site, near Maralinga, South Australia.
Figure 2: Geological setting of halloysite deposits formed by acid groundwater at the Camel Lake site, near Maralinga, South Australia.[2]

What is Halloysite used for?

Halloysite is becoming a big favourite in the medical field for biomedical applications. This includes uses for drug delivery, gene delivery, tissue engineering, cancer and stem cells isolation and bioimaging. (Ref: Proactive Investors)