Why Is Demand for Alumina Rising with Increasing Consumption of Steel?

Aluminum is a versatile material, providing high strength relative to its mass density. From soda cans and window frames to aircraft parts and trainsets, aluminum is prized in a wide range of applications. As a result, the mining of bauxite to yield alumina, which is essentially aluminum oxide (Al2O3), is picking up around the world, especially in India, China, Malaysia, Australia, and Indonesia. The bauxite is used to derive various grades of alumina, including tabular, calcined, metallurgical, reactive, fused, bubble, high-purity, activated, and submicron.

This is because apart from metallurgy (production of aluminum metal), aluminum oxide has various other applications, namely as refractories and the manufacturing of abrasives, ceramics, aerosol lubricants, and bearings. Of these, metallurgy remains the largest application of the compound owing to the rising demand for aluminum metal. P&S Intelligence credits this wide application base of the salt while projecting a 2.2% CAGR for the alumina market between 2019 and 2024.

On account of the booming population and rising rate of urbanization and industrialization, the construction sector of China, the U.S., Russia, India, and the U.K. continues to grow. Steel, owing to its high strength and sturdiness, is a popular choice of material in this industry. Thus, with steel production increasing around the world to meet the construction sector’s demand for raw material, the usage of alumina refractories is increasing as well.

In 2019, the alumina market was fragmented in nature and led primarily by companies from China, which have high production capacities. To gain an even larger industry share, companies are further expanding their production facilities. For instance, in January 2019, Vedanta Limited announced intentions to augment its capital expenditure to $300 million to increase production at its Lanjigarh alumina factory in Odisha. Other key companies in the market are United Company RUSAL PLC, Hindalco Industries Limited, Aluminum Corporation of China Limited, Rio Tinto plc, National Aluminum Company Limited, Alcoa Corporation, South32 Limited, Norsk Hydro ASA, CVG Bauxilum CA, Almatis B.V., and Alumina Limited.

Thus, with the growing demand for aluminum and steel, the consumption of aluminum oxide will rise as well.

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