Roskill reports that the ceramic proppants sector is forecast to become the largest market for non-metallurgical bauxite by 2021, overtaking the refractories industry. Refractories’ bauxite consumption (directly and via brown fused alumina) accounted for more than 20% of the total non-metallurgical bauxite market in 2015.2
In the U.S., apparent consumption of bauxite declined by 8.0% in 2015 to
9 Mt, valued at approximately $252 million. Imports for consumption dropped by 23.7% to 9 Mt, while exports rose 33.3% to 20,000 t.
Nearly 60% of total calcined alumina consumption was for the production of refractories in 2015, according to Roskill, including material used indirectly via spinels, calcium aluminate cement and refractory ceramic fibers. Non-metallurgical aluminas are finding increasing opportunities in high-tech applications such as aluminosilicate glass used in thin film transistors (TFTs) and liquid crystal displays (LCDs). Functional and structural ceramic components, such as catalytic substrates, electronic ceramics and spark plugs, are also offering opportunities for calcined alumina.2
According to a report from Persistence Market Research, the global market (in terms of volume) for high-purity alumina (HPA) is expected to increase at a CAGR of 19.7% from 2015-2021. Demand for HPA is principally driven by the increasing adoption of LED products, lithium ion battery separators, sapphire glass for smartphones, and smart watches. LEDs represented the leading end-use segment in 2014 (54% of the market share) and will reach approximately 60% of the overall market by 2021. This segment’s growth is attributed to increasing demand for synthetic single crystal sapphire, which is used as a base substrate in the manufacture of LEDs.
Asia-Pacific dominated the HPA market in 2014, with over 60% of the market share. China alone accounted for approximately 45% of the market share, in terms of volume in 2014. North America ranked second, accounting for over 13%, followed by Europe. Meanwhile, Asia-Pacific is anticipated to be the fastest-growing region, both in terms of value and volume, during the forecast period.3
Apparent U.S. consumption of alumina dropped to 3.6 Mt, a decline of 8.2%, and refinery production decreased by 8.9% to 4 Mt (see Table 1). Imports for consumption increased slightly to 1.7 Mt (4.3%), while exports remained relatively flat at 2.1 Mt.
2. Non-Metallurgical Bauxite & Alumina: Global Industry, Markets & Outlook (published January 2016), Roskill, www.roskill.com.
3. Global Market Study on High Purity Alumina (HPA): High Demand for LEDs and Displays to Drive Growth During 2015-2021 (January 2016; $4,900), Persistence Market Research, www.persistencemarketresearch.com.