Global Refractories Industry

Global Refractories Industry

  • September 2020 •
  • 494 pages •
  • Report ID: 92508 •
  • Format: PDF
A Hurting Metallurgy Industry Disrupts Market Opportunities for Refractories. Market Braces for $1.7 Billion in Losses

The global market for Refractories is expected witness revenues dip by US$1.7 billion in the year 2020 and thereafter recover and grow to reach US$30.1 billion by the year 2027, trailing a post COVID-19 CAGR of 3.4% over the analysis period 2020 through 2027. As an industrial material, refractories are widely used in the linings of furnaces, kilns, incinerators and reactors, given their extremely high melting point and ability to maintain structural integrity even at very high temperatures. Refractory materials are ceramic, corrosive, and non-metallic products that tolerate extreme temperatures, physical wear, and corrosion released by chemical agents. The materials offer better heat resistance capacity than metals, making them ideal solution for usage in industrial processes that operate in temperatures ranging between 371o C and 425o C. The materials’ resistance to heat makes them ideal for usage in kiln furniture, ceramics, foundries, boiler combustion chambers, mission control scrubbers, and incinerators. The market is bearing the brunt of slowing manufacturing and production. As the momentum in the refractories market is largely reliant on the level of activity in iron & steel sector, which in turn is influenced by the economic environment, the recession is curtailing immediate term growth. COVID-19 induced economic crisis is having a considerable negative influence on construction, automotive, shipbuilding, heavy machinery, appliances, and oil & gas infrastructure, where use of steel is the highest. At the same time, weak industrial activity in other refractory end-use domains such as aluminum, copper, glass, energy, waste management, and chemicals industries, primarily due to weak industrial activity, is weakening demand for refractories further. Capacity reductions across the world are expected to be on the rise over the next two years.

Globally, there is considerable excess steel production capacity, especially in China. Around the world, state-owned entities (SOEs) directly/indirectly control around 70% of the steel production, consequently, the plans of government and SOEs differ from that of free-enterprise steel producers. Against this backdrop, the steel industry in China is feeling the pressure of excess inventory build-up, volatile raw material prices, declining steel prices and waning profit margins. Chinese steelmakers combined have over 1.3 billion metric tons of production capacity, of which more than 400 million metric tons are surplus. Capacity utilization in the domestic steel industry has been averaging around 70%. The current medley of market forces are expected to trigger consolidation in the steel industry leading to a natural shake out of outmoded capacity in addition to the focus on legislative control of capacity expansions. The surplus steel capacity continues to impact the complete upstream supply chain that include coal producers, iron ore producers and scrap suppliers. Commodity steel manufacturers are one of the most affected sectors on account of excess steel capacity. Global steel producers have been witnessing growth in output outpacing growth in demand, with capacity utilization rates remaining adamantly around the 75% mark throughout 2019, and continue the same trend in early 2020, just prior to the onset of COVID-19 outbreak. The sector is being weighed down by the pressure caused by decades of excess steel production capacity buildup and poor margins.

In the post COVID-19 period, growth will be come from the established demand for ceramics, steel, cement and other minerals processed via electric ARC furnace technology. Although iron and steel remain chief consumers of refractories, the coming years are forecast to witness an increase in demand for refractories in the production of nonferrous and non-metallic mineral products. The slowdown in Chinese consumption of refractories is expected to be offset partially by the rise of India as the next big driver of refractories consumption in Asia. China, on the other hand, will continue to decline challenged by slower economic growth and government policy led environmental crackdown on refractory pollutants in industrial wastewaters and air emissions. The country will nevertheless witness demand for higher grades of refractories in a bid to bring down refractory usage per metric ton of steel produced from about 22 kilograms to about 10 kilograms. A key trend that will gain momentum during this period will be the migration towards monolithic refractories away from shaped refractories.

Competitors identified in this market include, among others,
  • HarbisonWalker International
  • Imerys
  • Krosaki Harima Corporation
  • Magnezit Group
  • MINTEQ International, Inc.
  • Refratechnik Group
  • RHI Magnesita N.V.
  • SEEIF Ceramic, a.s.
  • Shinagawa Refractories
  • Vesuvius plc