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Titanium Metal: Market Outlook to 2018


With the new generation of large passenger aircraft, the A380 and A350 from Airbus and the B787 from Boeing, using greater volumes of carbon fibre reinforced polymers (CFRP), which are compatible with titanium but not with aluminium, titanium’s position as a key material in the aerospace industry is assured and growing. The use of CFRP is strongly favoured by airline companies as it does not exhibit fatigue and requires far less costly downtime and maintenance. In 2010 and 2011, the delayed building programmes for the A380 and B787 aircraft, as well as that for the new A350, picked up momentum and demand for aerospace grade titanium rose sharply. At the same time, strong growth in demand for industrial grade material, mainly in China, resumed. This resulted in the global market for titanium metal expanding by 60% over the 2009 level. In 2012, the size of the market is thought to have levelled out but modest growth is forecast for 2013. While aerospace accounts for of half of the demand of titanium in the USA, Europe and Russia, industrial applications, particularly in chemical plant, dominate in Asia. These differentiated markets will continue to be the main demand drivers behind a growth of 4.6%py through to 2018. After falling to 123.5kt in 2009, global supply of titanium sponge rose by an average of 26.5%py from 2010 to 2012 reaching 241kt; an estimated 20kt surplus to demand. Output is expected to fall to about 230kt in 2013 because of growing inventories and slowing demand growth. World titanium sponge production capacity of 330ktpy is in excess of both demand and output. Most of this surplus is in China and is for industrial grade material, although capacity for aerospace grade sponge, mainly in Japan, Russia, the USA and Kazakhstan, is more than adequate to meet demand. Nevertheless, new capacity is likely to come on stream in the USA, China and Ukraine. Supply of sponge is forecast to grow at 5%py to 2018. Research continues into new, lower cost continuous production technologies for the recovery of titanium metal, but by mid-2013 there was only one operation (of 2ktpy capacity) which did not employ the Kroll batch process.