Zirconium oxide or zirconia is expected to witness tremendous growth owing to its increasing use in numerous applications such as medical products, optical fibers and waterproofing clothing. In addition, Development of China’s ceramic tile industry is anticipated to augment zirconium oxide demand, as the product is used as an opacifier in ceramic applications including sanitary ware, floor and wall tiles, and tableware. Developing countries such as India, Korea and China are the major growth markets for zirconium oxide. However, economic disorder which flattened the global industrial sector during 2008 and 2009, negatively affected zirconium market. Volatility in the prices of zirconium coupled with shortage in supply has impacted market growth adversely over the past few years. Nonetheless, the market is likely to improve quickly and post a robust growth in following years. Asia Pacific region was the largest consumer of zirconium oxide in the world due to sharp rise in demand for the mineral in ceramic and foundries. Moreover, exploration of new mine reserves is expected to influence the consumption of zirconium oxide across the end-use sectors. Growing demand for zirconia has led to amendments in production technologies in the industry. Production targeted towards nuclear energy provides great opportunities for zirconium oxide market growth in forecast period.
The U.S. was the largest consumer and producer of zirconium oxide followed by Japan in 2013 and the trend is expected to continue over the forecast period. Zirconia nanoparticles (nano-ZrO2) market is likely to develop notably in the next few years owing to its augmented usage in niche markets such as thermal barriers, electronic displays, medical and dental implants, solid oxide fuel cells and wear-resistant coatings.
Key players in zirconium oxide industry include France-based company Saint-Gobain, which is one of the leading producers present within the global zirconium oxide market. Other subsequent players are E.I DuPont de Nemours and Company, Alkane Resources, Astron Advanced Materials, Allegheny Technologies, Astron, Australian Zircon NL, Astron Advanced Materials, Exxaro Resources Ltd, Bemax Resources Limited, Luxfer Group, Rio Tinto Plc, Foskor Ltd., Iluka Resources Limited, Namakwa Sands Ltd., Neo Material Technologies Inc., Richards Bay Minerals and Wah Chang.
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