Global bauxite and alumina markets are projected to reach 191.7 million and 70.3 million metric tons, respectively, by 2015, according to a new report by Global Industry Analysts (GIA) Inc. Key factors driving market growth include recovery in the automobile and construction sectors, and increased demand from developing markets such as the Asia Pacific region, Latin America, and the Middle East. In addition, high-performance materials are expected to influence the demand for both bauxite and alumina in the future.
The worldwide economic recession adversely impacted and derailed the momentum of the bauxite and alumina market. Developed regions such as the U.S., Canada and Japan observed a fall in demand for alumina during 2008-2009, due to the closing of various aluminum smelters and reduced output. Prices of the minerals also remained relatively flat during this period. The global credit crisis led to a downfall in automobile manufacturing and home construction activity, which had a direct negative impact on the bauxite and alumina industry. The use of aluminum for various infrastructure projects in developing regions was dented, and the refinery and mine expansion projects in various parts of the world were halted due to the financial crisis. However, the market is expected to recover by 2011 and sustain growth in ensuing years.
The Asia Pacific region represents the largest region for both bauxite and alumina worldwide, according to the report. Latin America represents the other major market for bauxite and alumina. Growth-wise, the Asia Pacific is projected to be the fastest growing regional market for bauxite and alumina, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 3.8% over the analysis period. A rapid increase in population and steady economic growth are key factors driving growth in the automotive and construction markets in the Asia Pacific, creating robust demand for bauxite and alumina.
In terms of products, metallurgical bauxite represents the major segment, while non-metallurgical alumina represents the fastest growing product segment in the global alumina market. Refractories and abrasives represent the major markets for non-metallurgical bauxite and alumina. Other applications of non-metallurgical-grade bauxite and alumina include aluminous cements, chemicals, and proppants. Though there has been a decline in demand for refractories over the years, the application of alumina in end use continues to remain strong because of its better performance. The same is the case in the application of both alumina and bauxite in abrasives. High-performance materials will influence the demand for both bauxite and alumina in the future. The application of alumina trihydrate in flame retardants and calcined alumina in electronic ceramics and bioceramics is expected to grow significantly in the coming years.
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