We arrived in Hikkaduwa on a highway bus. Hikkaduwa is located directly on the sea and is a surfers beach where you are spoilt for choice with places to stay and eat at. We certainly felt grateful and thrilled to have both, our interest in clay and beach bumming, satisfied simultaneously. Who needs more?
A mere 10 kms inland from Hikkaduwa beach is a small town called Meetiyagoda. We had heard that Meetiyagoda has a ceramics mine or factory. We drove to Meetiyagoda on a rented scooter and found a kaolin refinery: Lanka Ceramics P.L.C. (and several Moonstone mines for those interested).
The manager was unavailable at the time but the security guard very kindly took us on a tour of the factory. Language was limited so we don’t know precisely how raw kaolin is processed but it was nonetheless interesting to see.
We saw raw kaolin being dug from a small open mine. It was then transported to the factory where it was crushed and mixed with water.
There were several steps of cleansing the liquid clay before it was showered into huge circular slurry mixer basins, where with the help of the centrifugal force defilements were separated out over an undetermined period of time.
After this the slurry was pumped to another building into a smaller tank and continuously mixed. From this tank the purified slurry was pumped into several filter press machines for dewatering while simultaneously being formed into squared sheets of purified kaolin, ready for purchase.
Most of the kaolin is delivered to Piliyandala: the Colombo suburb we had coincidently already visited and where seemingly many industrial potteries are located and producing fine ceramic wares largely for the European market.