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Zirconium Market - Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2019 - 2024)

Zirconium Market - Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2019 - 2024)

  • September 2019
  • 153 pages
  • ID: 5821483
  • Format: PDF
  • By Mordor Intelligence LLP

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Market Overview
The zirconium market is expected to witness a healthy growth, at an estimated CAGR of 5.08% in terms of volume, over the forecast period of 2019-2024. The major factors driving the growth of the market studied are the consistent growth in foundries and refractories, growth of nuclear power stations in Asia-Pacific, and the accelerating usage in surface coatings.

- Reducing dependence on zircon is expected to hinder the growth of the market studied.
- Zircon segment accounted for the largest share of about 70% of the total volume of the market studied in 2018.
- China also dominated the market studied, with about 50% of the total revenue, in 2018, and it is expected to witness the fastest CAGR of 9.63% over the forecast period.

Key Market Trends
Increasing Demand from Zircon Flour/ Sand

- Zircon is widely used in ceramics and foundry, mostly in the form of sand and flour (milled sand), due to its various properties, such as the ability to bind with all organic and inorganic sand binders, low acidity, low thermal expansion coefficient and high spatial stability at increased temperatures, chemical stability at high temperatures, and good recyclability,
- In ceramics, zircon sand is used for its highly valuable properties, such as a high refractive index for opacification and inducing white color. Its ancillary benefits, including its ability to impart greater mechanical strength, toughness, and durability to ceramic bodies and glass matrices, are established attributes and valued by specific segments in the ceramic industry, thereby catering to the markets with a preference for these attributes.
- Zircon is mostly used in the form of flour, to introduce zirconium to frit compositions, or as micronized zircon to produce glazes, engobes, and ceramic body compositions. Zircon sand is employed to improve the abrasion resistance of glazed surfaces, particularly for floor tiles.
- The adoption of modern tile manufacturing technologies (mainly the double charging process) for porcelain tiles, has had the most significant impact on the reduction of zircon use in ceramics, by constituting approximately 90% of the assessed decline in zircon use in Chinese ceramics. The European and Chinese segments are expected to dominate the demand growth, with China leading the way till 2020.
- In foundry applications, it is used widely as a molding base material for sand casting, investment casting, and Cosworth casting (aluminum). It is also used as mold coatings in die casting and in refractory paints and washes, as it reduces the wettability of other foundry sands.
- Asia-Pacific has recorded the highest demand from the ceramics and foundry industry, followed by North America and Europe. Most of the demand is expected from China and India, thus enhancing the demand for zircon flour and sand.
- However, substitutes of zircon sand, such as silica sand, olivine sand, and chromite sand, are likely to hinder the market growth rate, as zircon sand is sold at a higher price than the substitutes.

China to Dominate the Market

- In Asia-Pacific, China is the largest economy, in terms of GDP. The annual growth rate of the Chinese GDP was 6.7% in 2017 and 6.6% in 2018. This growth is expected to be stable, despite the trade disturbance in early 2019. The economic growth in the country remains high, owing to the increasing interest of investors to invest in China.
- China is one of the fastest-growing economies, globally, and almost all the end-user industries have been growing, owing to the rising population, living standards, and per capita income. However, owing to the international trade turbulences and unfavorable geopolitical affairs, the growth rate is expected to slow down during the initial years of the forecast period.
- China is gaining popularity as the fastest-growing consumer of nuclear energy in the present scenario. The country has 38 nuclear reactors and 19 more were under construction in 2018. The increasing focus on the development of nuclear power resources is expected to increase the demand for zirconium.
- In addition, China has been a major consumer and exporter of ceramics, globally. China’s ceramic tile industry witnessed a boom from 2016 to 2018. According to the China Building Ceramics and Sanitaryware Association, there were more than 1,450 ceramic tile manufacturers in the country, operating more than 3,600 production lines.
- In 2018, China was the largest consumer and producer of ceramic tiles, accounting for more than 50% of the total global consumption. Three largest exporter countries of ceramic tiles include China, Spain, and Italy, and they accounted for more than 60% of the global exports in 2018.
- According to the Ceramic World Review, in 2018, Chinese tile production was more than 6,500 million square meters, an increase of almost 10% from that in 2015. This equated nearly 50% of the global total ceramic tile production.
- The iron and steel industry consumes the largest portion of refractories, globally, and in China as well. Industrial restructuring and the decreased consumption rate of refractories for per metric ton of steel impacted the demand for refractories in China between 2013 and 2015. However, the steady growth in the production of iron and steel in the country has been driving the growth of the refractories market in recent times.
- The growth in industries, such as foundry, refractories, and ceramics, is expected to drive the market studied.

Competitive Landscape
The global zirconium market is consolidated, with the top five companies accounting for around 70% of the global consumption, in 2018. A majority of the consumption of zirconium is based in the Asia-Pacific and European region. Major players in the market include Iluka Resources Limited, Rio Tinto, Tronox Holdings PLC, and Eramet, among others.

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