The firm of Imerys on Milos
Today, opencast mining is predominantly, albeit not exclusively, in the hands of the French group Imerys. On 01.03.2015 Imerys took over S&B Industrial Minerals S.A., the company that had for decades developed and defined mining on Milos. The founding family, Kyriakopoulos, who starting with Milos had built up S&B to an international company, sold all of its shares to Imerys.
In 1933 the founders started with the extraction of bauxite in three different mines on the Greek mainland. Only one year later, they set up the firm of Silver & Baryte Ores Mining Co. S.A. in order to extract various mineral resources on Milos, Kimolos and Polyegos. These were principally silver and barite, which were pivotal in the choice of the company’s name. Barite is called “varitis” in Greek whilst a special form of barite with a low silver content is called “varitinis.” So it came about that S&B was known by the locals as “Varitini” for short.
Thanks to the constant acquisition of smaller local mining firms, S&B became the market leader on Milos. Eventually, S&B Industrial Minerals S.A. expanded ever wider and came to operate worldwide. Its main fields of business were the extraction and processing of bentonite, perlite and bauxite. Upon takeover by Imerys, the entire S&B Group became a part of Imerys’ “Filtration & Performance Additives Business Group.”
Imerys’ share of total exports of bentonite and perlite from Milos is currently over 90% and a few other firms share the rest. The above-mentioned pozzolan mine is operated by the firm of LAVA Mining and Quarrying S.A. and this company also still extracts silica sand at another location.
Imerys’ operating sites
Imerys headquarters are in Voudia, east of Pollonia. The first plant was built here by S&B back in 1934, its foundation year. In addition to administration, there is also a large processing area in Voudia for bentonite and perlite and here cargo ships are loaded up directly with the minerals.
There is another plant in Kanava, located on the bay a little way outside Adamas. Here too both bentonite and perlite are processed and directly loaded.
The mineral resources extracted at the perlite mine of Tsigrado are further processed directly on site. The factory is on the left hand side if you drive towards the beaches at Tsigrado and Firiplaka. The white spoil heaps are visible from afar.