Demand for zirconium for ceramics use in 2013 accounted for 54% of the worldwide market, while the demand for chemicals and casting use made up 28%, according to a recent report from MarketResearchReports.biz. Zirconium chemicals find wide application in chemical engineering, textile, papermaking, cosmetics and electronics industries.
Zirconium resources are highly concentrated across the globe. A majority of zirconium ore reserves are in Australia and South Africa, which made up 80.96% of the global total in 2013. The gross reserves of zirconium ore resources in China hit 500,000 tons last year, standing at less than 1% of the world’s total, largely spreading in southeastern coastal regions like Hainan, Guangdong and Guangxi, as well as southwestern regions such as Sichuan and Yunnan. In recent years, China has made continuous efforts in launching uhligite exploitation projects in overseas countries such as Mozambique and Indonesia.
China is home to the world’s largest processing base of primary zirconium. In 2013, 90% of zirconium oxychloride and zirconium silicate in the world were produced and processed in China. Of that, more than 85% was exported to the U.S, Japan and Europe for the production of ceramics, zirconium dioxide products, and nuclear-grade zirconium sponge.