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Refractories market to grow to 2021

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World Cement,

The global refractory market is projected to grow by an annual average of 3.4% through to 2021, according to latest analysis from CW Research, with this year’s consumption expected to grow 4% on last year. The outlook also sees the trend towards high-quality products continuing.

The surging Asia Pacific steel and cement industries will be the primary driver of volume growth in demand for refractories through 2021. The value of the regional market will grow by 4.5% on an annual basis.

This year, Chinese steelmakers – which represent around half of global refractories volumes – have been the key driver in supporting refractory demand. The industry has seen production levels rise in 2017, despite a government push to reduce excess capacity.

On quality, CW Research expects a shift towards magnesite-based refractories, which will account for more than 40% of the market in 2017 and is forecast to grow significantly over the next five years. As a result, lower-quality refractories will see market share reduced with silica-based refractories accounting for only 3% of global consumption and chromite-based refractories being pulled from the market altogether.

Following the trend towards higher-quality products, there will also be a shift towards castable refractories.

“The less-is-more trend, supported by innovation, is no doubt intensifying,” said Robert Maderia, Research Managing Director. “Technology and new casting solutions are enabling a change in the usage from more brick to more monolithics, even in segments that traditionally predominantly have relied on brick refractories, such as cement.”

In 2017, castable materials accounted for 30% of refractories usage – double the amount in 2010. This will continue to increase to 2021, enabled by new kiln-lining methods adopted by end-use segments, such as cement manufacturing.

These trends to high-quality more-complex refractories will pose challenges for producers’ supply chains – with manufacturers placing a premium on purity of raw materials. This will see “pricing increases as well,” said Raluca Cercel, Senior Consulting Analyst at CW Group. “That means both manufacturers and end-users are transitioning from seeing refractory materials less as a commodity, and more as an investment.”

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