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Zircon Prices Continue to Rise as Demand Exceeds Supply

Research and Markets has announced the addition of The Economics of Zirconium to their offering.

There is a very real risk that demand for zircon could soon be substantially greater than global supply. It has been forecast that the shortfall could be more than 100,000t in 2005 and some industry observers believe that, even if all the planned mineral sands projects come into production over the next ten years, demand will still outstrip supply. If zircon production does not increase to meet the expanding demand, prices will continue to rise to a point where consumers in one or more industries may switch to using alternative materials. Such a shift has taken place before.

In the mid-1980s raw material shortages and spiraling prices led manufacturers of refractories in Japan to permanently substitute alumina spinel for zircon in many applications. The result was a sharp decline in demand for zircon in refractories that has never been reversed.

The last three years have shown a high degree of concentration of corporate control of zircon production. In 2001 the twelve largest producers had a combined output of just over 1Mt, about 80% of the world total. Four corporate groups now effectively control about three quarters of the world's zircon supply: Iluka Resources, Rio Tinto, BHP-Billiton and Anglo American. While more mineral sands projects at various stages of planning and development around the world could do much to restore the supply-demand balance, with a combined potential zircon output of over 500,000tpy, in practice the outlook is less encouraging. Some of the projects, such as Iluka's developments in Australia, are aimed principally at compensating for falling output and do not necessarily represent additional supply.

The key trends, issues and developments in the market are now analysed this report 'The Economics of Zirconium'. It provides a clear insight into all areas of the industry and an authoritative analysis of the prospects for the future.

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