The history of the Beauvoir kaolins

The industrial history of the Beauvoir deposit dates back to the second part of the 19th century with the discovery of kaolin. The lithium-bearing granite deposit was identified in the 1960s.

The history of the Beauvoir deposit located in Allier, in the community of Echassières, dates back to the Bronze Age, with a number of excavations done since the Gallo-Roman era.

The industrial history of the site begins in the 19th century with discovery of the presence of kaolin in 1848 by PA Jouhet and the first extractions in 1852. 

The Beauvoir site is mined for extraction of kaolin, a rock whose clayey mineral has been used for millennia. From 1895 to 1984, SKB (Jouhet & Barberon) operated the site until Coframines, a subsidiary of the Bureau de Recherches Géologique et Minières (BRGM), took over in 1984. In 1995, the business was sold to Denain-Anzain-Minéraux.

L'histoire des Kaolins de Beauvoir remonte au XIXe siècle.
The history of the kaolins in Beauvoir dates back to the 19th century.

In 2005, Imerys bought the Beauvoir kaolin business and continued to extract and process kaolin. The kaolin produced at the Beauvoir site is mainly used in tableware (65%) and tiles (29%). As part of this activity, Imerys produces 25,000 to 30,000 tonnes of kaolin annually. With some 30 employees on site, Imerys’ teams are permanently established and integrated into the local economic and industrial fabric.

Lithium occurring under the kaolin quarry

Knowledge of the existence of lithium at the Beauvoir site dates back to the 1960s, when a lithium-bearing granite deposit was discovered under the quarry. 

In the past, the presence of lithium had not been considered due to insufficient demand. Changes in market conditions, valuation and interest in lithium led Imerys to initiate new studies starting in 2015.

For example, Imerys applied for and obtained an Exclusive Lithium Research Permit in 2015, renewed in 2021, in the context of which several drilling campaigns were conducted. The results of these campaigns confirm an economically attractive concentration and quantity of lithium.

Campagne de sondage dans la carrière de Beauvoir, en 2022.
Beauvoir Quarry Sampling Campaign, 2022.