High purity alumina demand is far larger than analysts predicted
11th July 2019
Resources Rising Stars
High purity alumina (HPA) supply will not meet estimated demand over the next decade — even if every project in the pipeline goes into production (reports Stockhead).
Last year, HPA was a niche industry building some momentum as analysts predicted a lithium-ion battery charged shortfall. That’s because one of HPA’s fastest growing uses is coating the separators that keep apart the cathode and anode electrodes in lithium-ion batteries:
Last week, a report by CRU acknowledged that previous demand predictions were too conservative.
In 2018, CRU estimated that 4N+ (99.99 per cent and higher) demand would grow from 19,000t to 92,900t by 2025. Now, CRU says it could grow at 30 per cent a year to 272,000t in 2028.
The market for HPA in powder form (used in lithium-ion battery separators) could reach 187,000t by 2028 “if sufficient supply were available”.
“The demand for ceramic coated separators in lithium-ion battery applications is genuine and will rapidly proliferate, as more energy-dense batteries arrive to serve the surging electric vehicle (EV) market,” says CRU.
And HPA use in LED production – which is also growing strongly – is moving towards the higher purity stuff which will have “profound (positive) consequences” for the 4N+ market.
But this growth will be constrained by limited supply.
CRU says the large short-term deficit (blue bars) is briefly alleviated by a number of announced HPA hopefuls in the 2022-24 period, before the supply gap begins to increase again in 2025 (green bars), reaching ~50,000 tonnes a year of shortfall by 2028.
This takes into account all projects approaching or at pre-feasibility stage, as well as announcements for any planned changes in production from existing producers.
A spike in 4N+ prices could happen as soon as 2020, CRU says.
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