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PRESS RELEASE: TAM Ceramics & Quest Rare Minerals Sign Deal for Zirconia Supply

TAM Ceramics & Quest Rare Minerals Sign Deal

for Zirconia Supply

July 9, 2013

NIAGARA FALLS, NY–   TAM Ceramics Group of NY, LLC (“TAM”), a leading U.S.-based marketer and manufacturer of zirconia chemical products and other ceramic materials, is pleased to announce that it has entered into a non-binding Letter of Intent (“LOI”) with Quest Rare Minerals Ltd. (QRM.TO) (NYSE MKT:QRM).  The LOI specifies that TAM will agree to purchase from Quest up to 24,000 tons of zirconia annually which Quest expects to mine from its Strange Lake deposit, and that Quest will deal exclusively with TAM for the sale of this quantity of product. This constitutes 100% of Quest’s anticipated annual zirconia production from Strange Lake.

The LOI also provides that TAM will coordinate with Quest to develop markets for zirconia.

The purchase and sale of zirconia contemplated by the LOI is subject to the execution of a definitive agreement between Quest and TAM which will include, among other things, the price of all zirconia to be sold and other material terms and conditions of the transaction. Quest and TAM have agreed to negotiate the definitive agreement in good faith, with a view to executing it as soon as possible, but in any event no later than December 31, 2014. The LOI provides that the definitive agreement will have an initial term of five years, with five possible renewal terms of five years each, for a total potential contract term of 30 years, covering the anticipated minimum 30-year production life for the Strange Lake deposit.

“The signing of our first off-take LOI, in this case for all of our byproduct zirconia, is a major milestone in the development of the Strange Lake deposit,” said Peter Cashin, Quest’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We believe that Strange Lake is a world-class asset


that has the potential to produce a substantial quantity of strategic materials that will be attractive to customers around the globe. The LOI is the result of our continuing marketing efforts to engage customers with whom we intend to develop lasting business relationships. We view TAM’s involvement with our Strange Lake project as a significant vote of confidence in the considerable progress we have made in precipitating chemical-grade zirconia product at our pilot plant. The LOI will allow us to develop a partnership with a company that has many years of zirconium marketing and manufacturing experience.”

“TAM is excited about the opportunity to partner with Quest to commercialize significant quantities of zirconium-based materials, such as zirconium chemical products and high-purity zirconia, into the global market,” said George Bilkey, TAM’s President. “These zirconium-based derived materials are an excellent complement to TAM’s 80-year global zircon and zirconia business. We very much look forward to working with the Quest team.”

About Quest Rare Minerals

Quest Rare Minerals Ltd. (“Quest”) is a Canadian-based exploration company focused on the identification and discovery of new and significant Rare Earth deposit opportunities. Quest is publicly listed on the TSX and NYSE MKT as “QRM” and is led by a highly-respected management and technical team with a proven mine-finding track record. Quest is currently advancing several high-potential projects in Canada’s premier exploration areas: the Strange Lake and the Misery Lake areas of northeastern Québec. Quest’s 2009 exploration led to the discovery of a significant new rare earth deposit, the B-Zone, on its Strange Lake property in northeastern Québec. Quest has filed a National Instrument 43-101 Indicated and Inferred Resource Estimate on the B-Zone deposit and has completed a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) for the deposit. In addition, Quest announced the discovery of an important new area of REE mineralization on its Misery Lake project, approximately 120 km south of the Strange Lake project. Quest continues to pursue high-value project opportunities throughout North America.

About TAM Ceramics

TAM Ceramics Group of NY, LLC (“TAM”) is a Niagara Falls, NY based zirconium chemicals specialist founded in 1906. For the last 107 years, TAM has been developing, processing, manufacturing, and selling advanced materials and ceramics into various markets in the aerospace, automotive, steel, glass, chemicals, electronics, and many other industries throughout the world.

PRESS RELEASE: TAM Ceramics expands its Custom Materials Processing and Recycling Program

September 1, 2012


Niagara Falls, NY:    TAM Ceramics recently announced it has expanded its material processing and recycling services and has made additional investments in dedicated calcining, crushing, milling, and sizing equipment.  Discrete circuits and additional classification capabilities help ensure the quality and efficiency needed to economically reclaim the value in materials such as used bricks and shapes, production waste streams, and obsolete inventory. In addition, TAM Ceramics has recommissioned and renovated its 3-phase electric arc fusion furnace to re-melt and refine materials, often producing usable powder to be reintroduced to the supply chain, reducing the demand for virgin minerals.


With over 100 years of Niagara Falls renewable hydro-electric power fueling their operations and growth, TAM Ceramics has a long history of producing Zirconias, Titanates, and other high purity ceramic powders for a variety of applications and markets. Recent price spikes in minerals and raw materials across the globe in all primary metal and glass industries have forced companies to find novel ways to reduce overall cost and eliminate waste in their production stream.  In some instances, raw materials have been rationed and the production of finished products has been stifled due to shortages in the supply chain. With this recent expansion targeted at partnering with current customers to lower overall product cost, TAM Ceramics is also broadening the types of ceramic materials utilized, the processing options, and the addressable markets to reclaim these vital resources.  Visit for more detail.

TAM releases….

TAM is proud to release the ONLY low-hydro free-flowing Potassium Titanate on the market.

More to follow!

Ceramics Industry Magazine and TAM

Click HERE to read the article or click HERE to download it

The industry designs wear surfaces and engineers brake system
dynamics for vehicles ranging from locomotives to Lamborghinis.

By Eric Hanson

March 28, 2012

Due to their high heat resistance, thermal stability and hardness, ceramic materials have been used in the friction industry since its early days. Developers of these components relied on ceramics’ beneficial properties to deliver increased life in the most extreme conditions.

Today, an increasing number of formulations and composite materials used in brake pads and clutch linings contain ceramics, and the task of material selection and representative testing methods continues to challenge the material scientists faced with the demands of the application.

Brake Pad Construction

Since the industry designs wear surfaces and engineers brake system dynamics for vehicles ranging from locomotives to Lamborghinis, the material science-related challenges are vast and complex. However, almost all brake pads made today include five primary components—each with a different function. In addition, the ratios of these components vary widely in the different formulations and applications. The components include:

Abrasives—improve stopping performance, modify friction wear

Fillers—improve the manufacturing process, reduce cost

Reinforcing fibers—improve mechanical strength

Lubricants—counter the wear of abrasives, modify friction coefficient

Binders—hold the various components together

Ceramic materials can be found in all five of these basic categories, which underscores the variety of commercially available ceramics used in friction around the globe. From ceramic fiber wool to hard zirconia abrasives and potassium titanate whisker fibers, the material list is long.

A Closer Look

The abrasive component of a brake pad is most likely to contain ceramic materials, although the design may require the abrasive to range in hardness to balance the properties required. To illustrate this range, consider that the abrasive could be as hard as tungsten carbide, for race cars that need to have the “grab” while cornering and change their rotors every race. More common abrasives include zirconia, silicon carbide, alumina, silica and magnesia materials, providing many options in designing the composite material that is pressed into the wear pad.

Fillers in the brake pad manufacturing process can mean many different things in terms of material selection and function. The simplest description of a filler is a low-cost material that fills the space in the brake pad to reduce the overall cost of the pad. However, the filler label is often applied to materials that act as the abrasive, a reinforcing fiber or a friction modifier. A filler material is often specifically used to facilitate the manufacturing process. The industry has applied this term to metallics, organics and inorganics (ceramics and mineral fibers) as a virtual catch-all phrase to describe what is not being used as a binder, reinforcing fiber, abrasive, or lubricant.

As the name would suggest, reinforcing fibers are used to reinforce and strengthen the matrix. However, the selected fiber’s thermal properties affect the composition, as well as the tribological behavior when the pad is in use. Therefore, sufficient attention to fiber selection and its interactions with the other components is critical. Asbestos, mineral wool fibers, ceramic fibers (including potassium titanate fibers), and fiberglass are harder and more heat resistant, while softer fibers such as aramid (Kevlar®) and other synthetics are used to balance the feel of the brakes. Metallic fibers such as chopped copper or steel wire are used when better thermal transfer properties are needed.

Lubricants are typically solid powders such as graphite that are used in brake pad formulations to balance the effects of friction, braking ability, and the wear of pad and rotor. In combination with the appropriate abrasives and friction modifiers (fillers), the lubricant provides a wear surface that acts as an intermediate layer between the mated wear surfaces, which helps reduce the loss of material on the pad and rotor.

Lubricants are often used along with metal sulfides to achieve the desired effect.

Binders are the engineered “glues” that hold the powders, fibers, oils, etc., together, which is important throughout pad manufacturing. Binders also need to withstand the heat, vibration and stresses of braking.

Phenolic resin is likely the most common binder, but other materials such as silicone, rubber, epoxy and other oils are used for specific applications where the trade-off in some properties allows for better performance in particular environments.

Brake Pad Classification

The many combinations of these materials allow engineers to tailor the brake to address the proper balance of noise, vibration, heat and wear on either the rotor or the pad, as well as the “feel” of the braking to the driver—for literally every vehicle on the planet. Several brake pad types or classifications are used in the industry, including:

Asbestos—pads made with mineral fiber used for years as reinforcing filler

Metallic—composed primarily of metal such as steel or copper fibers, iron powder

Semi-metallic—uses similar metals combined with organic fillers and binders

Non-asbestos organic (NAO)—employs a matrix of organic and inorganic materials

Ceramic—composed of ceramic fibers, nonferrous filler materials, ceramic powders

Asbestos is a naturally mined fibrous material that had been widely used as reinforcing filler in brake pads for much of the 20th century. When its health risks and carcinogenic characteristics became known, most manufacturers and many countries banned the use of asbestos. While some friction materials are still made with asbestos in limited parts of the world, this class of brake pads makes up a very small part of the overall market.

Metallic brake pads are composed primarily of metals such as steel or copper fibers, iron powder and graphite, as well as inorganic fillers and friction modifiers or binders. This type of brake pad is widely used due to its cost and durability; however, excessive noise and brake rotor wear can result, especially in more severe environments (e.g., heavy trucks). Semi-metallic pads use a similar mix of metallic fibers, including chopped steel wire or steel wool, iron powder, copper fibers, and graphite (as a lubricant). These fibers are mixed with organic binders such as phenolic resin. Fillers can include everything from rubber dust, cashew dust, mica, and vermiculite or calcium carbonate and potassium titanate, which also help modify the friction coefficient. These pads offer good heat transfer properties and are more durable than metallics, but can also increase rotor wear, produce noise and dust, and fail to perform efficiently at lower temperatures.

NAO brake formulations were designed to replace asbestos brake pads. NAOs employ the use of a matrix of organic and inorganic fillers, friction modifiers, abrasives, and binders. While not considered a fully ceramic material, it is common to have NAOs referred to as “ceramic” due to the practice of using materials like potassium titanate, ceramic fiber wool, silica, zirconia, alumina, silicon carbide, and others as fillers and abrasives. These may also contain mined mineral fibers, aramid fibers, and graphite as a lubricant. NAO pads produce less noise and typically have a better “feel” when braking, but they may create more dust and have a higher pad wear rate.

Ceramic friction materials are not new to the industry; early manufacturers used more traditional ceramic processing to fuse oxides together with silicates to create a ceramic body with a ceramic/glass matrix. Today’s “ceramic” pads are more of a composite material with predominately ceramic materials in an organic resin matrix, and they may still include small amounts of metal, such as copper fiber for heat transfer. The ceramic portion can be composed of ceramic powders and fibers for reinforcement, ceramic fillers such as potassium titanate, and ceramic abrasives such as zirconia or alumina. Ceramic pads are quieter, produce little dust, have less rotor wear and offer superior braking performance.

However, they are more expensive and are typically used only in premium vehicles or in extreme operating conditions. Ceramics can also be used in rotors as a composite in a carbon or metallic matrix, or as a surface layer to deliver optimum braking in high-performance cars.


A variety of brake pads is currently produced to cover the broad range of vehicles and other machines that need braking systems. When combined with the fact that most brake pad formulations can contain 10-25 individual material components that cover the five primary functions outlined above, the permutations and combinations of ceramics, metals, organic materials, and chemicals that an engineer must understand and apply is enormous.

To detail all of the possible ceramic materials and their applications in the friction industry would be a very long discussion. In many cases, the true knowledge and understanding lies within the brake pad companies that guard their secret formulations very closely.

Every new material that is introduced to a pad formulation is required to undergo strict testing in the brake pad manufacturer’s lab. Once the initial approval is obtained, a newly engineered brake pad will be subjected to extensive testing on a dynamometer, which simulates every imaginable scenario for a given vehicle and follows a strict set of parameters and performance dictated by automakers and industry specifications.

Fortunately for the safety of the general public, every pad is designed for a specific vehicle, thoroughly tested according to that vehicle’s requirements, and proven to be safe and effective before ever being approved for the automaker. Ceramics are indeed a critical part of this safety and should be appreciated the next time one has to stop suddenly while behind the wheel.

For additional information, contact TAM Ceramics at 4511 Hyde Park Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14305; call (716) 278-9403; or visit


Eric Hanson is Vice President, Sales and Marketing, for TAM Ceramics, Niagara Falls, N.Y.



Click HERE to download this article

NYSERDA grants helping two companies with energy plans

By Jonathan D. Epstein


Updated: February 21, 2012, 2:53 PM

The state’s energy research agency is awarding $700,000 to two Buffalo-area companies that are developing environmentally friendly technology to generate electricity while reducing the use of fossil fuels that produce pollution, officials said today.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority announced two grants to ENrG Inc. of Buffalo and TAM Ceramics of Niagara Falls for their development of clean energy power systems.

ENrG is working on fuel cell components, and is also working together with TAM on a project to convert waste heat to electricity.

The projects and awards are part of a larger program of $7 million in incentives to 17 companies statewide for clean energy power. Projects that received funding include fuel cells, solar panels, wind turbines, energy storage systems, waste-heat-to-electric facilities, biogas systems and hydropower.

Nearly 40 companies applied for the competitive funding, but winning applicants had to show how the products improved on existing technology.

NYSERDA was created in 1975 to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy and reduce their need for fossil fuels like oil. The state public benefit corporation offers information and analysis, programs, technical expertise, and grants, and also develops partnerships to promote innovative solutions.

“By investing in clean energy power technologies, we are not only helping to improve power reliability and reduce electricity costs, but we are also helping to grow the state’s clean-energy economy,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO of NYSERDA.

“These promising projects can lead to new technologies that produce important economic and environmental benefits.”

The larger of the two grants, for $500,000, went to ENrG alone to pursue more manufacturing capacity and improve the performance of the ceramic parts it makes for fuel cells and other products. The company itself will invest another $770,000 toward the project, for a total of nearly $1.3 million.

The second grant, for $200,000, will be shared by ENrG and TAM on an unrelated effort to improve the performance of a high-tech ceramic material that helps turn exhaust from an engine or other waste heat from manufacturing into electricity.

Founded in 2003, ENrG employs 14 in three Western New York sites, and uses technology licensed from Corning Inc. to make ceramic components for fuel cells.

Its primary product today, Thin E-Strate, is an ultra-thin but dense ceramic layer that works as a membrane for solid-oxide fuel cell makers, to keep materials separate and enable the conversion of electrochemical energy to generate power. It can also be used for a range of military and commercial purposes, such as superconductors, sensors and solar heaters.

“ENrG’s typical customer knows they need a flexible thin ceramic membrane but face many challenges in acquiring it because of performance issues, cost and amount of time it takes to secure the product,” said John A. Olenick, ENrG’s president and CEO. “These two NYSERDA awards will permit ENrG to address all of these issues… and significantly grow this business.”

Founded in 1906 in Niagara Falls, TAM Ceramics makes zirconia, titanate and zircon powders for high-temperature furnace linings, brake pads, protective coatings for molten metal casting and welding “consumables.” It also offers processing services through its advanced materials business.

The company is developing a ceramic powder that can be used to create power, at hot temperatures, from waste heat from generators, cars or manufacturing processes. It’s collaborating with ENrG to test whether TAM’s material could be used in porous ceramic structures made by ENrG to make parts that help produce electricity from heat.

“The award from NYSERDA complements TAM Ceramics” pursuit of new renewable energy material technologies based on its successful history of advanced material developments,‘ said George Bilkey, TAM’s president and managing partner. “TAM Ceramics is able to take on this new project as we are able to leverage our installed ceramic processing equipment capacity to manufacture these materials in large volumes.”



Two years!

Congratulations to the TAM Ceramics team for achieving two years in the plant without a lost-time workplace injury!

The safe way is the best way!

Commitment to Safety

Congratulations to the staff and management of TAM Ceramics for going 18 months without a lost-time injury at our facility.  We are very proud of the level of commitment to safety that everyone on site exhibits in the plant, lab, and office.  Keep up the great work!

One year ago, in TAM history

One year ago today, the Niagara Gazette ran a story titled “Local Investors Seek Help Taking Over TAM”.  Thanks to the investors and the team (“Team TAM”), TAM Ceramics has had a great year and we are looking forward to continuing to participate in our community.  The text of the article is below.  Here is a LINK to the original article on the Niagara Gazette and a LINK to download it as well.

LOCAL IDA: Local investors seek help taking over TAM

By Joyce Miles

The prospective new owner of TAM Ceramics in the Town of Niagara is seeking aid and tax incentives from Niagara County to complete its acquisition.

Tam Ceramics Group of NY LLC, is bidding to take over the manufacturing facility from All American Holdings, which bought it a couple years ago and has since decided its products don’t fit All American’s core business.

If All American doesn’t have a buyer, it likely will shut down the plant and put 55 people out of work, TAM Ceramics Group President George Bilkey said.

Instead, Bilkey and his partners, Alfonse Muto and Jerome Williams, both of Lewiston, see an opportunity to grow TAM’s existing business and branch out into renewable energy materials production.

Already, Bilkey said, TAM has contracts with several universities, the U.S. military, NATO and several European governments to research and develop ceramic materials for use in bridge building, space heating, solar and wind power delivery and fuel cells.

TAM Ceramics Group is asking the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency for a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement providing sales, mortgage and property tax exemptions; the property’s current assessed value is $1.5 million.

The group also is seeking a $400,000 loan from the IDA-controlled Niagara County Development Corp. and, separately, transfer of an existing hydroelectric power allocation from New York Power Authority.

The PILOT application indicates the group will purchase the buildings and machinery/equipment for $4 million and invest $1 million working capital in the facility to increase product sales.

All American Holdings and Bilkey, a ceramic engineer, got the more-than-100-year-old business turned around after prior owner Ferro “(ran it) into the ground” and closed it in 2007, Bilkey said. TAM’s business doubled in 2008, and in 2009, it invented “fiber free” potassium titanate, a material used in brake pads that replaces an asbestos-based form.

TAM’s existing products, zirconia, zircon and titantes, end up in golf clubs, Glock pistols, Bosch tools, airplane turbines and Corning manufacturing equipment, Bilkey said. Meanwhile, it’s researching and developing renewable energy materials and nanomaterials (blast-proof cements and solders). Current green energy-related pursuits include conversion of waste heat to electricity; developing supercapacitor materials to hold wind and solar power on a grid; hydrogen generation for fuel cells; and developing high-efficiency micro furnaces.

“We’re talking big, big dollars, huge, huge opportunities for the facility,” Bilkey said.

The PILOT application forecasts TAM will add 25 new manufacturing and engineering jobs within three years. To handle existing business, Bilkey said, it’s looking to add eight jobs within 30 days.

TAM already has a PILOT agreement with Niagara County, transferred from Ferro, that’s good for another two years, according to IDA assistant director Lawrence Witul. A hearing on the request will be held at 4 p.m. March 8 at Niagara Town Hall.

TAM Ceramics is the Niagara USA 2011 Business of the Year

niagara usa chamber award

We are honored to announce that TAM Ceramics is being awarded 2011 Business of the Year from The Niagara USA Chamber.

Introducing Fiber-Free Potassium Titanate (FR)

TAM Ceramics is proud to introduce a new product – Fiber-Free Potassium Titanate (FR). Please follow the links below to either visit the product’s page or download a PDF brochure.


Please contact if you have any questions about this, or any, product.

  1. We welcome any feedback, questions or comments