Circular No. – 32/2002-Customs
10th June, 2002

F.NO.528/22/2001-CUS (TU)
Government of India
Ministry of Finance
Department of Revenue
(Tariff Unit)

Subject: Import of activated bleaching earth / activated clay as `processed bentonite” ; classification thereof. – Reg.

 I am directed to refer to the subject mentioned above and to say that a representation in this regard has been received in Board”s office. In the representation, it has been stated that such goods are being wrongly classified under heading 25.08 as `decolourising earth”/ `processed bentonite”. Some of the popular brands and their country of origin of such goods are stated to be as follows.

Brand Country of origin
Tonsil Optimum 210FF Germany
Tonsil Optimum 230 FF Indonesia
Tonsil Optimum 250 FF USA
WAC Excel Malaysia
WAC Classic Malaysia
Galleon V2 Super Japan

 It has also been alleged that the incorrect classification was resorted to so as to evade customs duty.

2.The matter has been examined. Goods, namely, “Bentonite” in natural or crude form is classifiable under sub-heading 2508.10 whereas decolourising earth would be classifiable under sub-heading 2508.20. Bentonite is stated to be a naturally occurring clay predominant in Indonesia, Germany, Japan, USA, and India. India is, however, stated to be importing bentonite and its derivatives for use in cosmetics, medicinal formulations, drilling industry and food industry. HS Explanatory Notes to heading 25.08 states that it includes all natural clay substances, but it excludes activated clay from the scope of the heading.

3.Clay Bentonite in crude form is stated to be made effective by activating it with acid or alkali. Some of the mineral acids used for acid activation are hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid, etc. After the acid activation process, it is stated that the molecular structure undergoes modification. The acid activation process is stated to be effective in removing the deficiencies by creating voids in the crystal structure of bentonite by replacing bigger atoms of molecules, like, aluminum, magnesium, iron, etc., by smaller atoms of hydrogen and such an activated bentonite is stated to have specific PH ranging from 2 to 5 depending on the brand and grade of the product. The activation is some times also done by soda ash resulting in a product which is alkaline in nature with a PH ranging from 8.5 to 10.5. After acid or alkali activation, the bentonite undergoes washing, grinding, heating and packing resulting in a new chemical product, namely, bleaching earth / activated clay, etc. This finished product is said to have properties like adsorptive capacity, acid properties, catalytic properties, ion exchange capacity and particle size distribution which is highly useful for various industrial applications like purification, filtration, bleaching, etc. HS Explanatory notes to heading 38.02 states that the heading includes activated clays and activated earths, but excludes natural clayey substances.

4 Keeping the foregoing view, the Board is of the considered opinion that such goods misdeclared as `decolourising earth”/ processed bentonite are classifiable under CTH 3802.90 as `activated bleaching earth”. The Custom Houses, shall take note of the above classification opinion so that such goods are classified correctly. Demand notices may be issued in appropriate cases to realise short levy.

Please acknowledge receipt of this Circular. Difficulties, if any faced in the implementation of above instructions may be brought to the notice of the Board.

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