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Historically, aluminum alloys occupy the top position in terms of magnesium consumption, although in 2012 this type of magnesium end use was related to magnesium cast alloys--at the level of 33% of the volume of global consumption. The packing industry is the largest market for magnesium in aluminum alloys, followed by transportation, construction and durable consumer goods.
The automotive industry, where magnesium cast alloys are used extensively for a variety of applications, is the largest sector user of magnesium cast components. In 2012 the average share of magnesium was 2.3 kg per vehicle, running as high as 26 kg in some auto models. The next large-scale magnesium consuming sector is the industrial production of cast magnesium cases for mobile phones, smart phones, notebooks, tablet computers and other electronic devices.

The third largest magnesium user is the industrial production of titanium sponge (titanium raw material)--volume 123,000 tons or 11% of the total magnesium consumption volume in 2012. Steel desulfurization--volume 119,000 tons--is in fourth place. Utilization of magnesium in metallurgy decreased as a result of the worldwide economic depression and a subsequent drop in production of steel. The average quantity of magnesium used in steel production is 50 g per ton.

Magnesium is also used in other industries, particularly iron modularization and electrochemical protection. The latter is a technique used to control the corrosion of a metal structure surface by making it the cathode of an electrochemical cell with an external anode of an active metal. In 2012 the volume of magnesium consumption in these two areas of magnesium application was approximately 65,000 and 60,000 tons, respectively.

In 2007 worldwide magnesium consumption (production + import – export) reached the level of 1,050 thousand tons. Declines of 11% in 2008 and 15% in 2009 were due to the global recession which resulted in reduced demand for magnesium-containing products. However, by 2013 the volume of magnesium consumption recovered to pre-crisis levels and reached a new peak of 1.1 million tons per year.
Globally, China has the dominant share of magnesium consumption of 400,000 tons per year, or more than 40%. In 2005 China’s share accounted for 17.7%, rising to 41.5% by 2013. At the same time volume of the EU and U.S. consumption shares were reduced slightly. North America maintains about 23% of global magnesium consumption and Europe about 18%. Russia and Japan are also major players with their aggregate share totalling 12%.
Regarding magnesium import, according to Eurostat data as of the beginning of 2014, Europe is 86% dependent on Chinese supplies. According to the EU customs data (Eurostat) for 2014, import and export of magnesium and magnesium-made products to/from EU were as follows:
EU import: 177 thousand tons; total 387 million euro at the average price of 2190 euro/ton, delivery cost included
China’s share in EU import was165,000 tons; total 342 million euro at the average price of 2070 euro/ton
EU export: 18,000 tons; total 58 million euro at the average price of 3200 euro/ton
EU share in export to China was 128 tons; total 800,000 euro at the average price of 6250 euro/ton
At the same time, per results of the first 7 months of 2015, China’s magnesium production declined. The volume of magnesium output dropped from 489,511 tons in 2014 to 452,930 tons produced in the same period of 2015, a decrease of 7.5%. Export of magnesium and magnesium-made products, including waste and scrap, also declined from 256,085 tons over a 7-month period in 2014 to 244,989 tons over the same period in 2015, a decrease of 4.3%.
The International Magnesium Association (IMA), forecasts future magnesium use expansion, primarily due to an increase in production of rolled aluminum for automobile bodies and magnesium alloy components for the automotive industry. By IMA’s estimate, the volume of magnesium consumption in 2020 will reach 1.37 million tons.
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