According to the US Geological Survey, the two leading uses for primary magnesium metal are as a reducing agent for the production of titanium and other metals, followed by magnesium’s use in aluminum-based alloys for packaging, transportation and other applications.
Recent years have seen Industrial demand for the metal on a steady upward tick, driven largely by the auto parts industry, where it is used for die-cast and forged components including magnesium wheels, steering wheels, dashboards, trunk lids and support elements. According to Roskill commodity research and consultancy, a leader in international metals and minerals research, the global magnesium market is expected to grow 3.4% per year, reaching almost 1.2 million tons/year by 2020.
Four companies (Qinghai Salt Lake, China; Alliance Magnesium, Canada; Latrobe Magnesium, Australia; and SilMag, Norway) are set to bring magnesium mines online before 2020, Roskill says.
General stability characterized the magnesium market in 2017, with somewhat more consumption from the aluminum industry, a ramping up of China’s Qinghai Salt Lake smelter plant to commercial-scale production, and China’s efforts to reduce pollution, which may continue to impact the market, among the many and varied factors that determined the year’s market performance.
“In 2017, there was less use of magnesium for titanium in the U.S. because of the shutdown. . .of a titanium sponge plant in Utah,” says commodity specialist E. Lee Bray in an interview with Investing News Network.
The Allegheny Technologies plant “idled operations due to weakness in the global industrial-grade titanium market,” he added. (Mr. Bray does not provide investment advice or make formal quantitative forecasts about the market.)
Mr. Bray shared his outlook for the supply (“strong,” he says) and demand (“I expect further increases in the magnesium for die-casting uses by the automotive industry,” Mr. Bray said) dynamic in 2018.
“There might be shutdowns of some capacity in China of the pidgeon processing plants, but this will be offset by production at the Qinghai Salt Lake plant,” he said, and overall, he doesn’t predict any major net change in output.
Worldwide aluminum production should rise gradually, with an attendant increase in magnesium consumption, since much of the metal goes into aluminum alloys, according to Mr. Bray.
Finally, he noted that titanium consumption will be focused mostly in Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, where “Most magnesium will be consumed by the titanium industry from those three countries.”
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