Raw & Manufactured Materials: 2019 Overview
Strong construction and automotive industries are boosting the production of key materials around the world and providing opportunities for growth.
Our annual look at some of the important raw and manufactured materials used in the ceramic, glass, refractories, brick, and related industries provides key production and import/export information, as well as details regarding market opportunities and trends. This year, we find that strong construction and automotive industries, among others, are boosting the production of key materials around the world and providing opportunities for growth.
The value of the global abrasives market was estimated to be $40.2 billion in 2017, according to Markets and Markets. A compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 6% will see the market grow to $56.6 billion by 2023 due to growing demand from industries such as automotive, metal fabrication and machinery. The Asia-Pacific region is the most attractive market for abrasives due to its industrial and population growth.1
The market for abrasive wheels will see growth at a similar rate (6.1%), according to The Insight Partners, climbing to $16.4 billion by 2025 from $10.3 billion in 2017. Alumina is the most preferred material for abrasive wheels due to its high toughness and fracture resistance, as well as its perceived lower cost in comparison to industrial diamond. China, the U.S. and Germany hold substantial market share; new players, particularly in developing regions, are expected to influence the dynamics of the global abrasive wheels market.2
Mordor Intelligence reports that growth is projected to be even stronger for superabrasives, such as cubic boron nitride (CBN). Estimated at almost $4.3 billion in 2018, the global superabrasives market is expected to see a CAGR of over 9.2% to reach $6.7 billion by 2023. The Asia-Pacific region, which dominated the global superabrasives market in 2017, is expected to see continued strong demand.3
U.S. production of fused alumina (crude) was flat at 10,000 t in 2017 and valued at $1.9 million. Apparent domestic consumption jumped 34.8% to 190,000 t, with imports for consumption increasing 35.5% to 210,000 t. Exports also increased, by 12.7% to 16,000 t.
Domestic production of crude silicon carbide was also flat in 2017, remaining at 35,000 t valued at around $26.4 million. Apparent consumption grew to 170,000 t, an increase of 18.1%. Imports for consumption of silicon carbide in 2017 jumped 20.7% to 140,000 t, while exports dropped 13.4% to 5,900 t.
The vast majority of the domestic market for industrial diamond uses the synthetic material due to ease of quality control and the ability to customize properties. Apparent U.S. consumption of industrial diamond nearly doubled in 2017, increasing by 92.1% to 365 million carats. Exports were flat at 134 million carats, while imports for consumption jumped 81% to 391 million carats.
Bauxite and Alumina
According to Merchant Research & Consulting Ltd., nearly half of the world’s known bauxite reserves are in Guinea (26%) and Australia (23%). Major bauxite manufacturers include Australia, China, Brazil, Guinea and India.4
In the U.S., bauxite consumption dipped 15% in 2017 to 4.2 Mt valued at near $130 million. Imports for consumption were down as well, by 28.3% to 4.3 Mt. For the first half of 2018, bauxite imports were close to 1.6 Mt. In 2017, more than 90% of the bauxite was refined by the Bayer process for alumina or aluminum hydroxide; the remainder was used for abrasives, cement, chemicals, proppants, refractories, and as a slag adjuster in steel mills.
Primary aluminum smelters used the majority of the alumina produced (60%) in the U.S. in 2017, with the remainder used in nonmetallurgical products such as abrasives, ceramics, chemicals and refractories. U.S. apparent consumption of alumina grew 10.6% in 2017, to 2.4 Mt. Domestic production and exports both dropped dramatically, by 36.4% to 1.5 Mt and by 67.2% to 450,000 t, respectively. Imports for consumption grew 14% to 1.3 Mt. In the first half of 2018, alumina imports for consumption were approximately 816,000 t, while exports were around 191,000 t.
According to Transparency Market Research, the global market for high-purity alumina is expected to expand at a CAGR of 15.4% from 2018-2026. Demand is reportedly increasing significantly for lithium-ion batteries, LEDs (in smartphones and elsewhere), and related products. The high-purity alumina market is segmented according to product type: 4N (99.99% pure), 5N (99.999% pure), and 6N (99.9999% pure). Among these, demand for 4N is expected to lead the market due to its significant use in electric vehicles in emerging countries such as South Korea, U.S. and China.5
Global Market Insights reports that the worldwide high-purity alumina market will top $4 billion by 2025. With over 70% of the global industry share, 4N high-purity alumina will represent almost $350 million in North America alone. Globally, the firm expects that 5N high-purity alumina will account for more than $1 billion in the same timeframe, finding increasing use in sapphire substrates, electrolytic capacitor foils, electronic storage systems and photovoltaic cells.6
The global tabular alumina market is expected to post a CAGR of nearly 6% from 2018-2022, according to Technavio. Tabular alumina is used in numerous high-temperature applications due to its unique microstructure and high purity. Of the three market segments included in the report (refractories, abrasives, and oil and gas), refractories held the largest market share in 2017, accounting for nearly 88% of the market. This application segment is expected to dominate the global market throughout the forecast period. Regionally, Asia-Pacific led the market in 2017 with a market share of almost 53%; it is expected to increase its market share by 2% through 2022.7
Markets and Markets reports that the global alumina trihydrate market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.7% from 2018-2023, climbing to almost $2 billion in 2023 from $1.5 billion in 2018. Growth drivers will include industries such as construction, plastics, paints and coatings, pharmaceuticals, glass, rubber and others. Asia-Pacific is expected to be the fastest-growing region for alumina trihydrate demand.8
According to Grand View Research, the global market for biomaterials will grow at a strong CAGR of 14.7% to reach $250.4 billion by 2025. North America held the largest share of the market in 2017 due to technological and mechanical progressions, high utility of medical services, a growing geriatric population, and higher medical insurance coverage.9
Bioceramics are also expected to see robust growth, reports Mordor Intelligence. The bioceramics market was estimated to be nearly $2.6 billion worldwide in 2017 and is projected to register a CAGR of over 10% from 2018-2023. While the orthopedic segment dominates the market and is expected to continue to do so, it is projected to register the slowest growth at 9.9% CAGR. Europe accounted for 43% of the global market for bioceramics in 2017, driven mainly by demand for dental applications in Germany, the UK, Italy and France. Germany is the largest global consumer of bioceramics, representing about 17% of consumption.10
Future Market Insights studied the global market for bioceramics and hydroxyapatite, finding that alumina is expected to dominate on the basis of material type and see moderate growth from 2018-2028. However, bioactive materials, such as calcium phosphate and predominantly hydroxyapatite, will witness significant growth. Moderate growth is also projected for bio-resorbable materials like bioglass.11
A report from Markets and Markets focusing specifically on the hydroxyapatite market projects growth at a CAGR of 5.9% from 2018-2023; the value of the hydroxyapatite market is expected to increase from $2.2 billion in 2018 to just under $3 billion by 2023. The market for micro-sized hydroxyapatite is projected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period, as is the orthopedic segment in terms of demand. Micro-sized hydroxyapatite can be engineered using nanotechnology to make it highly suitable for specific applications such as drug delivery systems and orthopedic surgeries.12
Technavio projects that the global bioactive glass market will grow at a CAGR of over 14% from 2017-2021. Bioactive glass is generally made from compounds of calcium oxide, silicon oxide and phosphorus oxide. Medical, dentistry and cosmetics represent the three major application segments; the medical segment accounted for 65% of the market share in 2016. Three market drivers are contributing to the growth of the global bioactive glass market: growing clinical applications, an increase in the aging population, and increasing demand from emerging countries.13
The glass and ceramic industries remained the leading domestic users of boron products in 2017, accounting for an estimated 80% of total borates consumption. Boron was also used as a component in abrasives, cleaning products, insecticides, insulation and in the production of semiconductors. (U.S. production and consumption data were withheld to avoid disclosing proprietary company information.)
Domestic imports for consumption in 2017 included: refined borax, 140,000 t (down 19.1%); boric acid, 35,000 t (down 23.9%); colemanite (calcium borates), 39,000 t (up 11.4%); and ulexite (sodium borates), 23,000 t (down 46.5%). Exports of refined borax dipped 9.4% to 500,000 t, while boric acid exports dropped 41.9% to 140,000 t.
The global hexagonal boron nitride market is expected to see a moderate CAGR of 5.4% from 2018-2023, according to Mordor Intelligence. The 2017 market value of $658.1 million is projected to climb to $899.2 million by 2023. Hexagonal boron nitride’s thermal stability and good dielectric properties are leading to increasing demand from the electronics industry, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. The material also finds use in skin care, hair care, makeup and other personal care applications.14
According to Future Market Insights, the global boron carbide market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 4.4% from 2017-2027 to reach over $170 million. Powders and grains were estimated to hold more than 80% of the $100 million market value in 2017; powders alone accounted for $59.3 million. Industries driving demand for boron carbide include electric arc furnace production, composite materials for defense applications, biomedical, energy and more.15
Mordor Intelligence forecasts significant growth for the ball clay market through 2023. Demand is growing particularly rapidly for sanitaryware in the Asia-Pacific region (primarily in China and India) as a result of increasing populations and infrastructures.16
The bentonite market is projected to surpass $1.9 billion by 2024, according to Global Market Insights. A booming steel industry in India, China and South Korea has boosted the iron pelletizing industry, which should promote growth of the bentonite market. The market for calcium bentonite in Germany is projected to register gains of 4% due to a strong focus on infrastructure and increasing construction. Refining applications will represent an opportunity for sodium bentonite in China; this application sector could represent $3 million by 2024.17
A report from Grand View Research projects that the global kaolin market will top $9.8 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 8.8%. Increasing demand for ceramics and paints as a result of rapid infrastructure development, particularly in emerging economies such as India and China, is expected to contribute to growth. The increasing number of ceramic manufacturers in China has contributed to kaolin market growth over the past several years, and this trend is expected to continue.18
Domestically, production of clays (sold or used) was estimated to be 24.7 Mt (an increase of 4.7%) valued at over $1.5 billion in 2017 (see Table 2). Apparent consumption of all clays grew 3.4% to 21 Mt. Uses for specific clays included:
- Ball clay—56% floor and wall tile, and 17% sanitaryware
- Bentonite—42% pet waste absorbents and 26% drilling mud
- Common clay—46% brick, 17% cement and 31% lightweight aggregate
- Fire clay—62% refractory products and miscellaneous uses, and 38% heavy clay products (e.g., brick and cement)
- Fuller’s earth—84% pet waste absorbents
- Kaolin—32% paper coating and filling, 25% ceramics, and 13% refractories (lightweight ceramic proppants for hydraulic fracturing were also a significant market for kaolin, but available data were insufficient for a reliable estimate)
The U.S. imported 580,000 t of clays for consumption in 2017, an increase of 22.9%, including: 28,000 t of artificially activated clays and earths (up 7%); 480,000 t of kaolin (up 23.4%), and 76,000 t other (up 33.3%). Exports increased overall (by 5.3%) to 4 Mt. Specific exports included: 140,000 t of artificially activated clays and earths (down 2.1%); 84,000 t of ball clay (up 104.9%), 940,000 t of bentonite (up 17.4%); 240,000 t of clays not elsewhere classified (down 6.3%); 240,000 t of fire clay (up 30.4%); 77,000 t of fuller’s earth (down 10.5%); and 2.3 Mt of kaolin (relatively flat with a 0.4% increase).
According to Roskill, a tentative start by Canada Fluorspar coinciding with a year when China continued with aggressive environmental protection measures has tightened fluorspar supplies used in steelmaking, chemicals and aluminum production. Chinese consumers had to import 140 kt of fluorspar in 2017, up 47% from 2016, and provisional 2018 data indicate a further increase in Chinese imports.19
Research by Global Market Insights suggests that the global fluorspar market will top $4 billion by 2024, driven primarily by increasing aluminum and steel demand in developing economies. Among the product segments, metaspar (containing 60-85% calcium fluoride) is expected to grow significantly, reaching a value of more than $1 billion. Rapid industrialization, significant automotive production and high construction activities are expected to lead the Asia-Pacific region to a CAGR of 8.5% through 2024; the region held more than a 60% share of the total fluorspar market in 2016.20
U.S. fluorspar consumption in 2017 was satisfied by imports and small quantities of byproduct synthetic fluorspar; apparent consumption rose 21.3% to 450,000 t. The leading use for acid-grade fluorspar remains the production of hydrofluoric acid. Additional use is found in cement production, enamels, steelmaking, glass manufacturing, iron and steel casting, and welding rod coatings.
Total U.S. imports of fluorspar (acid grade and metallurgical) grew by 20.1% in 2017 to 460,000 t; cryolite imports plunged 37.5% to 10,000 t. Fluorspar exports dipped 8.3% to 11,000 t.
The global graphite market is projected to accelerate at a CAGR of around 6% from 2018-2022, according to Technavio. Rising demand for lithium-ion batteries, where graphite is extensively used as an anode material, is a key factor driving market growth. The increasing use of graphite in the automotive, steel and photovoltaic industries is also expected to create strong demand. Refractories held the largest market share in 2017, accounting for around 63%; refractories demand for graphite is expected to grow steadily through 2022.21
Graphite demand is about to enter a period of rapid growth and price escalation, according Roskill. Consumption had previously been led by steel market applications and Chinese industrialization, but had slowed as Chinese steel output growth slowed from 2010-2017. However, rapid growth in demand for natural flake graphite and synthetic graphite in the lithium-ion battery industry is now forecast to underpin total graphite demand growth of 5-7% per year, between 2017-2027. By 2027, consumption of graphite in battery applications could be 5-10 times higher than the current level, depending on the uptake of lithium-ion battery-based electric vehicles (EVs) and other lithium-ion battery applications. Meanwhile, the steel industry, which is the historic driver of graphite production and prices, has been through a number of dramatic changes since 2017, driven by environmental protection in China. Steelmaking drives the major markets for synthetic graphite in electrodes and the market for natural graphite in refractories.22
Focusing specifically on the synthetic graphite market, Transparency Market Research forecasts a CAGR of 6.3% from 2018-2026, with the market in North America reaching over $8.4 billion. In terms of volume, Asia-Pacific and North America represent the leading regions for the synthetic graphite market. The market in Asia-Pacific is projected to expand at a substantial pace in terms of value, followed by North America and Europe. In addition, the Latin America market is estimated to expand considerably due to increasing demand from the electronics industry, as well as lithium-ion batteries.23
According to Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence LLP, the market for global spherical graphite is projected to grow at a strong CAGR of 19.6% from 2017-2023. Spherical graphite, which is formed by turning flat flakes of natural graphite into spherical shapes and purifying them, finds use in the efficient operation of lithium-ion batteries.24
China produced 67% of the world’s natural graphite in 2017; of that amount, approximately 70% was amorphous and 30% was flake. Natural graphite was not produced in the U.S., though two companies are developing graphite projects.
Domestic imports for consumption jumped 28.2% to 50,000 t in 2017 (75% flake and high-purity, 24% amorphous, and 1% lump and chip graphite). Principal U.S. import sources were (in descending order of tonnage) China, Mexico, Canada, Brazil and Madagascar. Apparent consumption of natural graphite dipped 4% to 24,000 t valued at $42.9 million; major uses included brake linings, lubricants, powdered metals, refractories, and steelmaking. U.S. exports of natural graphite skyrocketed by 85.7% to 26,000 t in 2017.
Robust Chinese government anti-pollution measures beginning in early 2017 have prompted the closure of many magnesia calcination and fusion plants, according to Roskill. This led to a sudden reduction in supply and concern over the future of China’s magnesium compounds supply chain. China has dominated the world magnesia supply for decades, accounting for 70% of world magnesia production capacity and 60% of world production. The mining of magnesite and production of magnesia have been severely affected by a combination of limited explosives provisions for mining and environmental inspections by the government, leading to plant closures.
By late 2017, Roskill reports, supply shortages had become severe. In addition to the issue of plant closures due to environmental inspections, government control of explosives interrupted magnesite ore extraction and thus feedstock to caustic calcined (CCM), dead burned (DBM), and fused (FM) magnesia plants. Ore shortages were exacerbated in early 2018 by a ban on illegal magnesite mining in Haicheng. Supply tightness affecting the magnesia markets is expected to persist for the foreseeable future.25
Technavio projects that the global magnesium market will grow at a CAGR of around 6% from 2018-2022. While demand for steel from various end-use industries is a major factor driving market growth, magnesium is also finding increasing use in orthopedic implants. The Asia-Pacific region accounted for a market share of around 62% in 2017.26
A moderate CAGR of 4.3% from 2017-2027 is projected for the global magnesium carbonate market in terms of value, according to Future Market Insights. The market is predicted to increase from 2017’s $225 million to reach about $342 million by 2027. Magnesium oxide production is the largest end-use category in terms of market valuation, representing $106.4 million in 2017 and projected to grow to top $160 million by 2027. Additional potential market drivers include increasing adoption in pharmaceuticals and personal care, rising demand from flame retardants and smoke suppressants, and high investment in research and development for new products.27
Domestic magnesium compound production increased by 13% to 330,000 t (of magnesium oxide content) in 2017. Imports for consumption were relatively flat at 400,000 t, while exports grew by 11.1% to 110,000 t.
Apparent U.S. consumption of magnesium compounds increased as well, by 4.4% to 620,000 t. About 40% of the magnesium compounds consumed were used for refractories in the form of dead-burned magnesia, fused magnesia and olivine. The remaining 60% were used in agricultural, chemical, construction, environmental and industrial applications in the form of caustic-calcined magnesia, magnesium chloride, magnesium hydroxide, and magnesium sulfates.
The inorganic pigments market is projected to see a CAGR of 3.7% from 2018-2026, according to Transparency Market Research, with architectural and automotive paints and coatings driving demand around the world. Titanium dioxide holds the major share of the inorganic pigments market (67.7%), compared to iron oxide, carbon black and others.28
Of the 15 Mt of ilmenite, rutile and titanium slag processed worldwide in 2017, Ceresana reports that 60% was used for the production of pigments. The remainder was used for further refinement into synthetic rutile and titanium slag (33%), and technically pure titanium, electrical conductors, and chemical intermediates (7%). The Asia-Pacific region accounted for 46% of global titanium dioxide demand in 2017.29
Mordor Intelligence reports that the market for titanium dioxide is expected to register a moderate CAGR from 2018-2023,30 while a CAGR of 8.1% is projected for the titanium dioxide nanomaterials market during the same timeframe (driven largely by the personal care products industry). Rutile dominates the titanium dioxide nanomaterials market and will see strong growth due to increasing use in sun creams, paints and dyes, anatase modifications, and photocatalysis applications.31
U.S. production of titanium dioxide pigment was fairly flat in 2017 at almost 1.3 Mt valued at around $3 billion. Imports for consumption dropped 26.3% to 182,000 t, while exports decreased less dramatically (4.5%) to 622,000 t. Apparent domestic consumption of titanium dioxide pigment dipped 2.4% to 820,000 t. Estimated end uses of titanium dioxide pigment included: paints (including lacquers and varnishes), 68%; plastics, 25%; paper, 3%; and other, 4%. Other uses included catalysts, ceramics, coated fabrics and textiles, floor coverings, printing ink, and roofing granules.
Iron oxide pigments were mined domestically by three companies (specific production figures were withheld but decreased in 2017 compared to the prior year). Apparent U.S. consumption of iron oxide pigments in 2017 grew 7.4% to 232,000 t. About 54% of natural and synthetic finished iron oxide were used in concrete and other construction materials; 20% in coatings and paints; 9% in foundry sands and other foundry uses; 4% in industrial chemicals; 3% in animal food; 2% in glass and ceramics; 1% in fertilizer; 1% in plastics, rubber and cosmetics (combined); and 6% in other uses. Imports for consumption grew 6.1% to 190,000 t, while exports dropped 17.7% to 13,000 t.
According to Technavio, the global iron oxide pigments market is projected to grow at a CAGR of more than 4% from 2018-2022. Increasing demand for nano-iron oxide pigments is a key trend that is expected to drive growth in the construction, coatings and cosmetics industries. Additional opportunities for iron oxide pigments are expected in oil and gas, where their use is increasing as lubricants in oil drilling rigs and catalysts in the petroleum industry. The construction industry accounted for the largest market share of iron oxide pigments in 2017 (53%), while Asia-Pacific held the largest regional share (45%).32
Significant growth is projected for the rare earth elements market from 2018-2023, particularly for rare earth permanent magnets, reports Mordor Intelligence. Cerium, which is used in the manufacture of catalytic converters and rechargeable batteries, is expected to dominate the market. Regionally, Asia-pacific represents the largest market for rare earths.33
Roskill estimates global consumption of rare earths to exceed 130 kt in 2018. Lanthanum-based nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) batteries and neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets have both experienced double-digit growth in recent years related to demand from the new energy sector, especially the adoption of electric, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid electric vehicles.
Neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr) are the key rare earths used in NdFeB magnets, and a growing demand will shift the natural imbalance of rare earths further away from the high-volume supplied lanthanum and cerium. Roskill estimates the neodymium supply and demand balance to have moved into equilibrium as of 2017, and neodymium is forecast to remain in a tight market throughout the next decade. However, efforts are under way globally to relieve the high-surplus lanthanum and cerium imbalance by substituting these for a portion of the neodymium composition in lower-quality magnet applications.34
U.S. imports of rare earth compounds and metals grew by 4.4% to reach about 12,690 t valued at near $150 million in 2017. Exports jumped 27.1% to 2,080 t. Apparent domestic consumption increased as well, by 4.8% to 11,000 t. The estimated distribution of rare earths by end use was: catalysts, 55%; ceramics and glass, 15%; metallurgical applications and alloys, 10%; polishing, 5%; and other, 15%.
Global consumption of yttrium oxide was estimated to be between 5,000-7,000 t in 2017. Globally, yttrium was mainly consumed in the form of oxide compounds for ceramics and phosphors. Lesser amounts were consumed in electronic devices, lasers, optical glass and metallurgical applications.
The U.S. imported about 380 t of yttrium (alloys, compounds and metals) for consumption in 2017, an increase of almost 12%. Exports and estimated consumption were both flat compared to 2016, at 2 t and 300 t, respectively. The leading domestic end uses of yttrium were in ceramics, metallurgy and phosphors. In ceramic applications, yttrium compounds were used in abrasives, bearings and seals, high-temperature refractories for continuous casting nozzles, jet engine coatings, oxygen sensors in automotive engines, and wear- and corrosion-resistant cutting tools.
According to Grand View Research, the global specialty silica market is projected to reach $4.43 billion by 2022. The market is expected to be driven by growth in the automotive and paints and coatings industries, as well as the growing application of precipitated silica in the food industry.35
Increasing demand from the paints and coatings sector in emerging economies is expected to help the fumed silica market see a 7.6% CAGR from 2018-2023, reports Mordor Intelligence. The Asia-Pacific region is projected to have the largest market for fumed silica during the timeframe, primarily due to growth in the region’s construction and medical sectors.36
The global silica flour market, which was estimated at $267.8 million in the Asia-Pacific region alone in 2017, will grow at a healthy CAGR of 6% from 2018-2026, according to Transparency Market Research. Leading end-use industries for silica flour around the world include fiber glass and oil and gas production. Asia-Pacific’s dominance of the market is expected to continue, led by China.37
U.S. production of industrial sand and gravel increased by over 35% to 105 Mt valued at around $3.5 billion in 2017, primarily due to increasing demand from the oil and gas sector. Apparent consumption reached 100 Mt, a 33% increase. Uses included: hydraulic fracturing sand, well packing and cementing sand, 63%; glassmaking sand, 10%; other whole-grain silica, 10%; foundry sand, 6%; whole-grain fillers and building products, 3%; ground silica and recreational sand, 2% (each); ground and unground sand for chemicals, 1%; and other uses, 3%.
While domestic imports for consumption grew by a strong 10.3% to 310,000 t in 2017, exports skyrocketed 87.1% to 5.2 Mt. Based on global production figures, the U.S. remains the world’s leading producer and consumer of industrial sand and gravel.
The global talc market was estimated to be over $2.3 billion in 2018, according to Mordor Intelligence. A solid 4.9% CAGR will lead the market to reach almost $3 billion by 2023. The plastic and rubber industry is the largest consumer of talc worldwide, while the Asia-Pacific region dominates the global market share.38
Markets and Markets reports that increasing demand for talc-reinforced polypropylene from the automotive industry will positively impact growth in the talc market through 2023. The ceramics end-use industry is projected to be the fastest-
growing segment during the forecast period.39
In the U.S., 2017 production of crude talc grew 2.6% to 550,000 t valued at $19 million. Exports (primarily to Canada and Mexico) jumped 24.3% to 210,000 t, while imports for consumption remained fairly flat at 380,000 t. Canada, China and Pakistan were the principal import sources for talc. Apparent consumption decreased by 4.7% in 2017, to 710,000 t.
Total 2017 sales (domestic and export) of talc by U.S. producers was estimated to be 540,000 t valued at $108 million, a slight increase from 2016 (527,000 t). Talc produced and sold in the U.S. was used in: ceramics (including automotive catalytic converters), 20%; paint, 19%; paper, 15%; plastics, 8%; rubber, 5%; refractories, 4%; roofing, 4%; and cosmetics, 3%. Including imported talc, the U.S. end-use rankers were thought to be (in decreasing order by tonnage): plastics, ceramics, paint, paper, roofing, rubber, cosmetics, and other.
Zirconium Compounds and Related Minerals
Mordor Intelligence reports that the global zirconium market is expected to grow at a CAGR of almost 6.3% from 2018-2023, driven primarily by use in foundries and refractories. Additional growth opportunities will be found in the automotive and nuclear power industries. The ceramic industry is the largest end user of zircon, while China is the largest market.40
Not including the U.S., world mine production of zirconium concentrates increased by 17.4% in 2017, to almost 1.6 Mt (see Table 4). U.S. production, which was withheld last year, was 50,000 t (rounded to one significant digit to avoid disclosing company proprietary data) in 2017. Exports skyrocketed by over 235% to 11,000 t, primarily due to increased production of zircon concentrates in Florida.
U.S. production of zircon (zirconia content) was estimated to be 30,000 t in 2017 (also rounded to one significant digit). Domestic imports of zirconium ores and concentrates climbed 12.4% to 28,000 t. Apparent consumption of zirconium ores and concentrates (rounded to one significant digit) reached 50,000 t. Leading end uses for zircon include ceramics, foundry sand, opacifiers and refractories.
The increasing production of nanoparticles is expected to propel the market for zirconia significantly in the near future, according to Transparency Market Research. Applications for zirconia nanoparticles include: solid oxide fuel cells; gas sensors; ceramic pigments; porcelain glazes (for artificial jewelry); and abrasive, insulating, and fire-retarding materials. The U.S. is expected to dominate the overall zirconia market due to its high production and consumption levels. The developing countries of the Asia-Pacific region, including India, Korea and China, are rich in zirconia availability. This is projected to create lucrative opportunities for the zirconia market, along with wide-scope innovative technologies in the production of coatings, thermal barriers and dental applications.41
Transparency Market Research is also studying the market for yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ), where it is anticipating increasing demand from the electronics industry due to YSZ’s high-temperature resistance, damage tolerance, and lightweight properties. The yttria-stabilized zirconia market in China and India is anticipated to expand significantly due to the rapid developments taking place in these countries. Europe, which follows the Asia-Pacific region in terms of YSZ consumption, is expected to see an increase due to the development of automotive sector in the region. The market for YSZ in North America is expected to expand at a steady pace during the next few years, primarily due to the presence of key automotive manufacturers in the U.S.42
Editor’s note: The foregoing information, except where noted, was compiled from the U.S. Geological Survey (www.usgs.gov). All units are in metric tons (t) or million metric tons (Mt), unless otherwise noted. In most cases, 2017 data were the latest available (and sometimes estimated and/or rounded). For additional details regarding the uses of these materials in the ceramic, glass, refractories, brick and related industries, visit the Materials Handbook pages in this issue.
- “Abrasives Market by Material, Type, End-Use Industry, and Region: Global Forecast to 2023,” Markets and Markets, July 2018, www.marketsandmarkets.com.
- “Abrasive Wheels Market to 2025: Global Analysis and Forecasts by Product and Material Type,” The Insight Partners, March 2018, www.theinsightpartners.com.
- “Super Abrasives Market: Segmented by Material Type, End-User Industry, Application, and Geography—Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2018-2023),” Mordor Intelligence, October 2018, www.mordorintelligence.com.
- “Bauxite and Alumina: 2018 World Review and Forecast to 2027,” Merchant Research & Consulting, Ltd., January 2018, https://mcgroup.co.uk.
- “Global High Purity Alumina Market to Exhibit 15.4% CAGR, Asia Pacific to Lead the Market during the Forecast Period 2018-2026,” Transparency Market Research, November 2018, www.transparencymarketresearch.com.
- “High Purity Alumina (HPA) Market Size Worth Over $4 Billion by 2025,” Global Market Insights, Inc., September 2018, www.gminsights.com.
- “Global Tabular Alumina Market, 2018-2022,” Technavio, October 2018,
- “Alumina Trihydrate Market by Application, End-Use Industry, and Region: Global Forecast to 2023,” Markets and Markets, April 2018, www.marketsandmarkets.com.
- “Biomaterials Market Size Worth $250.4 Billion by 2025,” Grand View Research, November 2018, www.grandviewresearch.com.
- “Bioceramic Market: Segmented by Type, Application, and Geography—Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2018-2023),” Mordor Intelligence, March 2018, www.mordorintelligence.com.
- “Bioceramics and Hydroxyapatite Market: Bio-Active Segment Projected to Generate Significant Growth Opportunities,” Future Market Insights, July 2018, www.futuremarketinsights.com.
- “Hydroxyapatite Market by Type, Application, and Region: Global Forecast to 2023,” Markets and Markets, August 2018, www.marketsandmarkets.com.
- “Clinical Applications to Boost the Global Bioactive Glass Market,” Technavio, November 2017, www.technavio.com.
- “Hexagonal Boron Nitride Market: Segmented by Type, Application, and Geography—Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2018-2023),” Mordor Intelligence, www.mordorintelligence.com.
- “Boron Carbide Market: Global Industry Analysis (2012-2016) and Opportunity Assessment (2017-2027),” Future Market Insights, September 2017, www.futuremarketinsights.com.
- “Ball Clay Market: Segmented by End-Use, and Geography—Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2018-2023),” Mordor Intelligence, September 2018, www.mordorintelligence.com.
- “Bentonite Market Worth Over $1.95 Billion by 2024,” Global Market Insights, Inc., October 2018, www.gminsights.com.
- “Kaolin Market Size Worth $9.83 Billion by 2025,” Grand View Research, Inc., June 2018, www.grandviewresearch.com.
- “Fluorspar: Global Industry, Markets & Outlook,” Roskill, November 2018, www.roskill.com.
- “Fluorspar Market Worth Over $4 Billion by 2024,” Global Market Insights, February 2018, www.gminsights.com.
- “Global Graphite Market,” Technavio, June 2018, www.technavio.com.
- “Natural & Synthetic Graphite: Global Industry, Markets & Outlook 2018,” Roskill, January 2018, www.roskill.com.
- “Synthetic Graphite Market: Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2018-2026,” Transparency Market Research, August 2018, www.transparencymarketresearch.com.
- “Global Spherical Graphite Market: Forecasts from 2018-2023,” Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence LLP, September 2018, www.knowledge-sourcing.com.
- “Magnesium Compounds: Global Industry, Markets & Outlook 2018,” Roskill, November 2018, www.roskill.com.
- “Global Magnesium Market,” Technavio, May 2018, www.technavio.com.
- “Magnesium Carbonate Market: Global Industry Analysis (2012-2016) and Opportunity Assessment (2017-2027),” Future Market Insights, January 2018, www.futuremarketinsights.com.
- “Inorganic Pigments Market: Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2018-2026,” Transparency Market Research, June 2018, www.transparencymarketresearch.com.
- “Market Study: Titanium Dioxide, 3rd Edition,” Ceresana, September 2018, www.ceresana.com.
- “Titanium Dioxide Market: Segmented by Grade, Application, and Geography—Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2018-2023),” Mordor Intelligence, September 2018, www.mordorintelligence.com.
- “Titanium Dioxide Nanomaterials Market: Segmented by Type, Application, and Geography—Growth, Trends, and Forecasts (2018-2022),” Mordor Intelligence, May 2018, www.mordorintelligence.com.
- “Global Iron Oxide Pigments Market,” Technavio, April 2018, www.technavio.com.
- “Rare Earth Elements Market: Segmented by Element, End-User Industry, and Geography—Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2018-2023),” Mordor Intelligence, April 2018, www.mordorintelligence.com.
- “Rare Earths: Global Industry, Markets & Outlook 2018,” Roskill, December 2018, www.roskill.com.
- “Specialty Silica Market Size, Share & Trend Analysis Report, 2012-2022,” Grand View Research, April 2018, www.grandviewresearch.com.
- “Fumed Silica Market: Segmented by Type, Application, and Geography—Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2018-2023),” Mordor Intelligence, September 2018, www.mordorintelligence.com.
- “Silica Flour Market: Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2018-2026,” Transparency Market Research, August 2018, www.transparencymarketresearch.com.
- “Talc Market Size, Share: Segmented by Deposit, End-User Industry, and Geography—Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2018-2023),” Mordor Intelligence, October 2018, www.mordorintelligence.com.
- “Talc Market by Deposit Type, End-Use Industry and Region: Global Forecast to 2023,” Markets and Markets, August 2018, www.marketsandmarkets.com.
- “Zirconium Market: Segmented by Occurrence Type, Application, and Geography—Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2018-2023),” Mordor Intelligence, October 2018, www.mordorintelligence.com.
- “Zirconia Market: Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2017-2025,” Transparency Market Research, release TBD, www.transparencymarketresearch.com.
- “Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia (YSZ) Market: Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2017-2025,” Transparency Market Research, release TBD, www.transparencymarketresearch.com.