Apparent consumption of fused aluminum oxide (alumina) dropped by 20.3% in 2015 to 141,000 t, while silicon carbide increased by 6.3% to 151,000 t. Abrasives consumption in the U.S. is strongly influenced by activity in manufacturing sectors such as aerospace, automotive, furniture, housing and steel, which all experienced increased production last year.
Fused alumina was produced by two companies at three U.S. plants in the U.S. and Canada in 2015; production had an estimated value of $1.65 million. Two companies at two U.S. plants produced silicon carbide, with an estimated value of $25.9 million.
Imports for consumption of fused alumina dropped by 20.7% to 157,000 t in 2015, while silicon carbide imports increased by 5.4% to 137,000 t. Exports of both materials declined in 2015; fused alumina exports were down 19.4% to 15,800 t, and silicon carbide exports were down 2.7% to 21,700 t.
According to a report available from Research and Markets, the value of the natural abrasives market (including pumice stone, emery, natural corundum, natural garnet, and others) reached $280 million in 2015, down slightly from 2014’s $331 million. Growth from 2007-2015 was positive overall, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.2%.
The report indicates that the leading worldwide suppliers of natural abrasives last year were India and Australia, together representing 56% of global exports. Both countries saw exports increase during the report period, with India’s exports growing 8.4% per year and Australia’s up 9.4%. Leading global importers of natural abrasives in 2015 included: U.S., 27% (an increase of 13 percentage points compared to 2014); United Arab Emirates (UAE), 7%; Saudi Arabia, 5%; China, 4%; and Korea, 4%.1
1. World Abrasives (Natural) Market Analysis and Forecast to 2020 (published November 2016; $1,636), Research and Markets,