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2018 CERAMIC RAW MATERIALS REVIEW: Boron Minerals

 

According to Merchant Research and Consulting, Ltd., the largest economically suitable deposits of boron minerals are found in the Mohave Desert (U.S.), the Alpide belt (southern Asia) and the Andean belt (South America). Asia and Latin America are forecast to drive demand in the near future, particularly in applications related to agriculture, ceramics and glass.

Colemanite, kernite, tincal and ulexite make up 90% of the borate minerals used by industry worldwide. More than 75% of world consumption is used in ceramics, detergents, fertilizers and glass. Leading domestic users in 2016 remained the glass and ceramic industry, accounting for an estimated 80% of total borates consumption. Boron was also used as a component in abrasives, cleaning products, insecticides, and insulation, and in the production of semiconductors.

Two firms in southern California produced borates in 2016; most of the boron products consumed in the U.S. were manufactured domestically. The leading producer mined borate ores containing kernite, tincal and ulexite, while the second company produced borates from brines extracted through solution mining techniques. (Specific domestic production and consumption data for boron were withheld to avoid disclosing proprietary company information.)

U.S. imports for consumption in 2016 included: refined borax, 181,000 t (up 33.1%); boric acid, 43,000 t (up 7.5%); colemanite (calcium borates), 36,000 t (up 2.9%); and ulexite (sodium borates), 61,000 t (down 12.9%). Primary import sources (2012-2015) were: Turkey, 73%; Bolivia, 13%; Chile, 4%; Argentina, 2%; and other, 8%.

Exports of boric acid in 2016 climbed 16.7% to 231,000 t, while refined borax exports grew 11.9% to 554,000 t. Canada, China, India, Malaysia and the Netherlands imported the largest quantities of refined borates from the U.S. in 2016.

Analysts at Technavio predict that the global hexagonal boron nitride market will expand at a CAGR of more than 5% to 2021, with increasing demand from the electronics and metallurgy industries driving growth. R&D advancements in semiconductors, aerospace applications, piezoelectric devices and cosmetics have targeted hexagonal boron nitride for potential applications.

 

(Via: Media Partner of CERAMICS CHINA 2019, Ceramic Industry Magazine, https://www.ceramicindustry.com/articles/96787-raw-manufactured-materials-2018-overview)