World vanadium consumption peaked at 78000t in 2012, according to a new study by Roskill. Growth in vanadium demand is set to continue through 2013 and beyond, underpinned chiefly by growth in steel consumption in developing nations for construction purposes.

However, the precise rate of growth in consumption will be dependent on a number of factors, most notably new regulations for Chinese high-strength construction steel, which have the potential to significantly increase vanadium demand.

Over 90% of vanadium is consumed as ferrovanadium in the production of steel. Growth in world consumption has been driven by Asian demand, particularly in China, over the past few years. In 2012 China accounted for 34% of world vanadium demand compared to just over 20% in 2006. New design codes in China aim to restrict the use of lower strength reinforcing bars and government directives require the production of high vanadium content alternatives. This has the potential to increase the intensity of China’s vanadium use in steel, which currently lags those of developed countries such as the USA.

With steel production forecast to rise by 3%/y and the expectation that China will need to consume additional quantities of vanadium to meet new rebar regulations, increasing quantities of vanadium will be required to meet global demand.

New capacity will enter the market to meet growing demand China is now the world’s largest producer of vanadium and increases in vanadium demand will, for the most part, be met by planned expansions to existing production facilities. China is in the process of significant expansion of co-product vanadium capacity, with further expansions scheduled over the next five years.

A number of new projects in the rest of the world are expected to become operational in the short term, aiming to meet future increases in vanadium demand.

New mines in Australia and Brazil are expected to keep the market in balance to 2017, although much remains dependent on the price for vanadium, which may render a wide number of producers in China and the ROW uneconomical if it falls below a certain level.

Prices reached peaks of US$27.00/lb V2O5 in 2005 in response to demand outstripping supply the previous year. Whilst prices then fell back, they remained high during 2006 and 2007 because of strong consumption by the steel industry during a period of sustained growth in steel production.

The report ‘Vanadium: Global Industry Markets and Outlook (13th edition)’ which contains 253 pages 130 tables and 82 figures, is available at a discounted price of £3230 / US$5185 / €4080 until 31st March from Roskill Information Services Ltd, 54 Russell Road, London SW19 1QL UK.
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