Niobium metal originates from volcanic rocks in various places around the world. It is a rare element obtained from tantalite and pyrochlore mineral ores. The rising demand for steel in emerging regions and for niobium in the automotive, construction, and aerospace sectors is anticipated to drive this market over the forecast period. A recent advancement in the niobium market was the development of high-performance electro ceramics. Ultra-high-purity in the sizes of grain and rigid distribution channels are predicted to fuel the demand for niobium over the forecast period. The commercialization of new technologies such as mobile devices, computers, and the internet has led to the expansion of the niobium market, besides the use of compounds and oxides in electro ceramics applications. The insufficient supply of niobium is projected to act as a restraint for the market over the forecast period. Niobium is used in steel as ferroniobium for the production of high strength, and low alloy steel for automotive, construction and pipeline industries. Niobium is also used in certain type of stainless steels. Addition of niobium in steel make it stronger so that less steel is required, thereby reducing the overall cost of construction. Therefore niobium is increasingly used in steel and growth of the steel industry will play a crucial role in driving the growth of the niobium market.
However limited supply of niobium will cause restrictions in the growth of the market.
The niobium market is classified by source into the pyrochlore and columbite segments. The former accounted for a major market share in 2016 which is anticipated to increase significantly over the next few years. Pyrochlore is a chief component from which niobium is derived. It is obtained exclusively for its rich niobium content. Pyrochlores are important class of materials from the point of view of diverse technological applications like in luminescence, ionic conductivity, nuclear waste immobilization etc. The process of extracting niobium involves a physical processing technique resulting in the concentration of niobium oxide, further processed into different kinds of end-products. Based on product type, the niobium market is segregated into the following categories: Nb chemicals, HSLA ferroniobium, niobium alloys, niobium metals, and vacuum grade FeNb. HSLA ferroniobium constituted the dominant market share in 2016 and is estimated to retain its position over the forecast period. It is used in the manufacturing of HSLA stainless steel and steel.
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In terms of geography, the niobium market is distributed over North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, and Latin America. Asia Pacific held a dominant share in the market in 2016 and is predicted to maintain its position during the forecast period, occupying almost 50% of the global niobium market. Rising demand for HSLA steel in the flourishing construction industry is expected to propel the niobium market in this region. China, Japan, South Korea, and India are leading countries using ferroniobium for the production of HSLA steel. Growing investments in the non-residential sector and infrastructural activities are anticipated to drive the construction industry in this region. China is likely to be dominant over the forecast period. Latin America is predicted to expand rapidly due to its widespread niobium production capacity, led by Brazil. North America accounted for a considerable market share in 2016 due to the development of the automotive and aerospace sectors. The U.S. is a prominent market for niobium and projected to be the leading country during the forecast period.
Key companies operating in the niobium market include Anglo American, Global Advanced Metals, CBMM, Advanced Metallurgical, and Magris Resources. Other players include SDMS, Molycorp, Alkane Resources Ltd., Grandview Materials Inc., Corevale Limited, NioCorp Developments Ltd., Taseko Mines Ltd., and Titanex GmbH.
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