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Future Of Ferro Niobium

Brazil is the largest niobium supplier in the world, supplying around 90% of all niobium products available in the market. Other reserves are in Russia, USA, Australia, Canada and in the African continent.

The present price movement in the global market shows that overall demand has impacted across the steel industry and in turn affected all the ferro alloy segment categories. Yet there are certain categories which haven’t got impacted as compared to other major bulk saleable ferro alloy items. Among such element we find that in last 8 months, Ferro-niobium has lowered by merely 8%.

Ferro Niobium has always been demand driven material and capability to supply it has also been a constraint. There are only few manufacturers in the segment resulting in global supply constriction.

Global producers like CBMM, CMOC foresee a market expansion with the growing demand in the steel production and hence taken step in expansion of their existing facilities to 250 thousand metric tonnes from current 110 thousand metric tonnes per annum by 2021.

Past production statistics & major users(India):
Ferro-niobium world market registered a growth of 20% in 2018 compared to 2017.
Ferro-niobium world market registered a growth of 12.5% in 2017 compared to 2016.
The market for niobium is expected to witness a CAGR of 6.5% during the forecast period of 2019-2024. Major factors driving the market are the increased consumption of niobium in structural steel and extensive utilization of niobium-based alloys in manufacturing aircraft engines.

Product diversification and upcoming growth trends:
With the requirements from the industry segments, some new innovative developments have taken place where a great potential in expanding microalloying elements in rebars can be seen, because the elements compound provide resistance to the steel with a more homogeneous structure. The new Chinese policy aiming higher quality level products should speed up the replacement of traditional carbon steel grades by micro-alloyed steels.
With greater consumption of ferro-niobium, there is worldwide surge in demand for high value-added steels, where we can find the growing use of niobium beyond traditional steel applications, especially new applications with compound annual growth rate (CAGR) projected above 10% in a ten-year period. Apart from improving the mechanical properties of resistance and stretching, which is the key for projects with lighter, durable and safe structures.
It is projected that the potential use for advancement in rebars in China, where 47% of production still don’t use microalloying elements would add up fresh consumption of Niobium alloy.
The ferroalloy making company has been investing exponentially in solutions for the automotive and energy sector. Especially automotive electronic systems, in which niobium nanocrystals played a key role in noise reduction systems.

In 2019 it is estimated that the world market size for Niobium products is at about 130 thousand tons/year . It is believed that Nobium market is forecasted to grow at the rate of 12% due to the continued advancement of microalloyed steels and the evolution of FeNb addition in other non- steel segment applications.
It is also found that South America´s demand for ferro-niobium is booming in 2019 which is driven by the surge of Brazilian steel export levels to USA, as well as the increase in domestic demand in Brazil steel industry and other allied industries.

Given these usage, I feel that the Niobium based alloy may get a good growth in the coming days and may hold its demand in the market. The prices of the Nb ferroalloy may sustain a better position than the other ferro alloy categories.

Authored by

Ashok Roy

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