The Global Niobium Market size was estimated at over 120 kilotons in 2020 and the market is projected to register a CAGR of over 5% during the forecast period. The market was negatively impacted by COVID-19 in 2020. Owing to pandemic scenario, several countries across the globe, went into lockdown, which led to decrease in the demand for niobium from various end-user industries, as all the manufacturing and construction activities were put on hold. This created a negative imopact on the niobium market. However, the condition is expected to recover in 2021, thereby driving the market sudied during the forecast period.
- Over the medium term, accelerating usage in structural steel and increased usage in aerospace applications, are driving the market's growth.
- On the flipside, limited supply sources and impact of COVID-19 pandemic, are hindering the growth of the market studied.
- The construction industry dominated the market and is expected to grow at a healthy rate during the forecast period as niobium-based alloys are exceptionally meeting the challenges regarding fire resistance and seismic requirement of modern artistic construction.
- Increasing demand for high strength and lightweight steel in oil & gas pipelines is likely to act as an opportunity in the future.
- Asia-Pacific dominated the market with the largest consumption from countries, such as China and Japan.
Key Market Trends
Construction Sector to Dominate the Market
- Construction industry is the largest consumer of niobium across the globe. The major application of niobium is in the production of steel. About half of all steel produced worldwide goes to construction industry.
- High-strength niobium microalloyed plate products are used in the construction of bridges, viaducts, high-rise buildings, etc. Heavy machinery, pressure vessels, etc. represent additional applications of microalloyed plates.
- Structural sections are widely used in civil construction, railway wagons, transmission towers, etc., where niobium competes with vanadium. Similarly, steel reinforcing bar is used in large concrete structures to increase their resistance to tensile loads. Larger diameter, high-strength grades are produced via the addition of niobium and/or vanadium, although some modern steel mills also use water cooling, which negates the need for micro alloying. Finally, niobium has also found application in high-strength and wear-resistant rails for railway tracks operating under high axle loads.
- The building and construction industry is currently a thriving industry in several emerging economies of the Asia-Pacific and European regions, and this is going to drive the demand for HSLA steel, which provides cost savings through reduction of weight in buildings, while also preventing infrastructure failures.
- The Chinese government has rolled out massive construction plans, including making provisions for the movement of 250 million people to its new megacities, over the next ten years creating a major scope for the market studied.
- The construction sector in North America has witnessed significant growth in the past few years. According to the United States Census Bureau, the value of construction industry in the United States has increased from USD 1,007.62 million in 2014 to USD 1,306.03 million in 2019. The total Residential housing units authorized by building permits in March 2020 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,353,000 representing 5% growth over March 2019 rate of 1,288,000. The total number of privatelyâ€owned housing starts in March 2020 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,216,000 representing 1.4% growth over March 2019 rate of 1,199,000.
- The factors driving the building and construction industry are ever-increasing population, rapid urbanization, and the rise in purchasing power. As a result of which, investments in infrastructure are being made and are in pipeline.
- Adding to these, several vanity projects in the Middle East and building of commercial constructions, such as airports, etc. are expected to drive the market in future.
- Therefore, such robust growth in construction across the world are likely to boost the demand for the consumption of niobium during the forecast period.
Asia-Pacific to Dominate the Market
- Asia-Pacific dominated the global market. With accelerating usage in structural steels and growing usage in the automobile and aerospace industry in countries, such as China, India, and Japan, the consumption of niobium is increasing in the region.
- The consumption of niobium is very high in steel manufacturing in the form of ferroniobium, and the construction industry is thriving in several emerging economies, such as China and India, among others.
- The infrastructure sector is an important pillar of the Indian economy. The government is taking various initiatives to ensure the timely creation of excellent infrastructure in the country. The government is focusing on railways, road development, housing and urban development, and airport development.
- India is likely to witness an investment of around USD 1.3 trillion in housing over the next seven years, where the country is likely to witness the construction of 60 million new homes. The availability of affordable housing is expected to rise around 70% by 2025, in India.
- Currently, China is majorly focusing on increasing the production and sale of electric vehicles in the country. For this purpose, the country has planned to increase the production of electric vehicles (EVs) to 2 million a year by 2020, and 7 million a year by 2025. The target, if achieved will increase the share of electric vehicles to 20% of total new car production for China by 2025. This is, further likely to increase the production of vehicles in the country in the coming years.
- China has been replacing the use of vanadium from niobium or a compound of both in steel industry, especially to produce rebars. Thus, the demand for niobium is expected to increase in future.
- Japanâ€™s electrical and electronics industry is also one of the worldâ€™s leading industries. The country is a world leader in the production of video cameras, compact discs, computers, photocopiers, fax machines, cell phones, and various other key computer components.
- Consumer electronics account for a third of Japan's economic output. There has been a constant rise in the demand of consumer electronics from the country, due to its durability and quality.
- Similarly, in Australia, the building and construction sector contributes around 8% of the GDP. The country is expected to recover, with non-residential building activity and engineering construction increasing in the next two years, owing to the upcoming major road and rail projects, which might further uplift the consumption of steel during the forecast period.
- The COVID-19 has presented a problematic situation for niobium in the region in the early 2020. However, the conditions got better now which concreted the probability of market recovery over the forecast period.
The global niobium market is an oligopolistic market, with three major mining companies, including CBMM, China Molybdenum, and Niobec, contributing to around 98% of the global supply. The largest and currently operating niobium deposit is located at Araxa, and it is owned and explored by Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e MineraÃ§Ã£o (CBMM).
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