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2019 OVERVIEW OF RAW & MANUFACTURED MATERIALS: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.

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.

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.