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Global demand for refractories declined during late 2008 and into 2009 as a result of the economic crisis and declining steel production and consumption. Steel use contracted by 6.2% in 2009. Nevertheless, with the economy gradually rebounding from recession and global steel production beginning to recoup, demand for refractories is forecast to increase starting in late 2010.
Asia-Pacific constitutes the largest and fastest growing regional market for refractories, accounting for an estimated unit share of more than 70%, according to the report. China and India are driving overall growth of Asia-Pacific in the global market. Fuelled by strong industrial production, China accounted for a major share of the global market in 2010. Meanwhile, an increasing level of industrialization is fueling growth in the Indian steel industry, providing ample growth opportunities for refractories.
Iron and steel remains the major end-use market for refractories. However, the declining steel industry usage of refractories bodes well for the growth of refractories in other end-use sectors. Growth in the production of cement, ceramics and other mineral products is expected to complement this growing trend in the coming years. In addition, an upsurge in the use of refractories in metal and non-metallic mineral products’ production is expected to widen the market’s growth prospects.
In terms of material, clay refractories represents the largest and fastest growing segment. The market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.6% over the analysis period. The market for non-clay refractories is projected to reach 19.6 million metric tons by 2012. By form type, bricks and shapes represent the leading segment, while monolithics and others are projected to surpass $10.34 billion by 2012.
Growth prospects are high for monolithic castables and preformed shapes that feature higher performance and flexibility than other refractory forms. Significant growth potential is expected in zircon/zirconia, silicon carbide extra-high alumina, and other more specialized refractory materials that offer strong performance in specific applications. In addition, an above average growth is foreseen in the case of cost-effective refractory materials, including silica, high-alumina, ceramic fibers, and insulating types.
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