Demand for refractories in the U.S. is forecast to increase 3.3% per year through 2019 to $3.1 billion, representing a deceleration from robust 2009-2014 gains as iron and steel production in the U.S. slows. Sales will also be limited by moderating output in a number of other durable goods manufacturing industries, many of which use refractories to at least some extent. In addition, a shift in demand toward better-performing refractories, while providing an initial boost to sales due to their premium prices, will cause market growth to slow in the long run as replacement cycles are lengthened.
On the positive side, continued increases in the price of raw refractory materials will support value gains. In addition, the nonmetallic minerals industry segment, which is expected to record the fastest market advances, utilizes some of the highest cost refractories, boosting overall dollar growth. When measured in volume terms, demand increases will be much more sluggish, averaging under 1% per year through 2019, when sales will total 2.3 million tons.