According to Roskill, the non-mettallurgical chromite market share is as follows: speciality grade markets make up a niche 4% share of the chromium industry, with refractory grades accounting for just 0.2% of that!
Trends in ferrochrome used in stainless steel underpins chromium market performance, with main demand in China, which has developed ferrochrome capacity.
Roskill outlined the source of speciality grades in South Africa and refractory mineral and market demand outlook in general, before detailing just where refractory grade chromite is used: Chromium is consumed in refractories in two forms: chromite consumed in mag-chrome and chrome-mag refractories; and refractory grade chromium oxide consumed in chromium oxide, chrome-corundum and alumina-chrome refractories.
Consumption of chromium in refractories declined after 2011, following continued substitution to reduce hexavalent chromium, increasing recycling rates of refractory materials reducing primary requirements and increased use of monolithic refractories.
There followed an excellent analysis of availability of speciality grades, and how this was influenced by demand from metallurgical grades.
Backeberg concluded that chromite sands for refractories used to catch a premium on foundry grades, but that premium has eroded since 2017. With continued growth in low cost concentrate availability, this picture is not likely to change in the short to medium term.