The number of brick factories in Germany has decreased dramatically in the past 100 years. In the past, there used to be more than 5,500 brick producing locations, today only 115 brick factories remain. Many companies disappeared from the market because of the high demand for innovation and low costs. Changes in the utilization potential of raw materials and new mining restrictions pose an existential challenge for the brick industry.
In 2018 the German brick and tile industry produced 11.3 million tons of clay. Unconsolidated sediments, marsh clays and alluvial clay have been the basis for brick production for thousands of years. The challenges for the German brick industry have changed significantly. Today, complex mass combinations of clays with external additives are used instead of single type or single locality clays..
Since the late 19th century the majority of local tile clay deposits has been depleted. It became inevitable to extract raw materials from deeper and more consolidated geological layers such as partially plastic shale of the Mesozoic. This method of course increased the costs of production but thanks to the development of modern processing methods it is now well established in German tile and brick plants.
The extraction of non-plastic clays and rocks from Palaeozoic would have been unimaginable until recently. Primary pre-crushing and new methods for modern dry grinding nevertheless enable the extraction and processing of material from these layers nowadays. Additional, large amounts of by-products such as filter cakes and rock fillers are produced during hard rock extraction. This offers new potentials and possibilities for the future.