The COVID-19 outbreak widely affected the ball clay market over the year 2020. Owing to the nationwide lockdown, the production process of various goods in the end-use industry declined due to the non-functioning of the manufacturing plants. The domestic sales and export of different raw materials also witnessed a halt during the COVID-19 outbreak. Economies of each sector got affected and resulted in stagnation of activities across the industries that uses ball clay. For instance, according to Eurostat, In April 2021, construction production decreased by 1.6% in the E.U. compared with March 2021; in the euro area, the decrease amounted to 2.2%. Additionally, after an unprecedented decline in March and April (-25.4%), construction in the E.U. region increased dynamically in May 2020 (21.6%). Thus, once the manufacturing activities will get back on track in the building & construction, and transportation industries, the market for ball clay will incline in the upcoming years.
Ball Clay Market Segment Analysis By Form
The powder segment held the largest share in the ball clay market in 2021. The ball clay in powder form consists of fine particle size, which is required in ceramics due to its water-resistant property. Therefore, the demand for ball clay in powder form is increasing in industrial applications, to make ceramics, such as in refractory material for furnaces, glazes, casting slips, engobes, and pottery. The demand for powder form of ball clay is high as compared to other forms, due to its requirement as a binder for fertilizer binding. With the rising demand for ball clay in powder form for several applications, the market is expected to grow in the forecast period.
Ball Clay Market Segment Analysis By Application
The ceramics segment held the largest share with 26% in the ball clay market in 2021. In the construction industry, ceramics made of ball clay is used due to its property of increasing plasticity, and bonding with base materials. Ball clay consists of a mixture of silica, talc, kaolinite, including the necessary minerals such as accessory minerals and carbonaceous materials such as lignite, which provides rheological stability and plasticity to ceramics, made from them. In industrial or commercial sectors, for ceramics applications, ball clay can also be used in tiling over concrete floors & walls such as in manufacturing plants, airplane hangars, hospitals, commercial and retail stores, showrooms, garages, and others. The increasing investments in residential, commercial, industrial, and infrastructure construction, will drive the demand for ceramics which would further raise the growth of the market. For instance, Larsen & Toubro, in India, in 2019, won contracts for building hospitals, commercial complexes, and manufacturing capacity. The orders range between 2,500 crores (US$ 336.6 million) to 5000 crores (US$ 673.2 million), falling under the large category.
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Ball Clay Market Segment Analysis By End-Use Industry
Building and construction industry held the largest share in the ball clay market in 2021 and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 6.1% during 2022-2027. In the building and construction industry ball clay finds usage in numerous applications such as in ceramics including, sanitary ware, wall and floor tiles, bricks, paints, and others. The rising growth in building and construction activities is further increasing the demand for ball clay. The building and construction activities are increasing rapidly in emerging economies such as India, the United States, China, and other countries. For instance, according to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), till December 2020, foreign direct investment (FDI) in the construction industry stood at US$ 23.99 billion. Furthermore, according to Invest India, by 2025, the building and construction industry is expected to reach US$ 1.4 Tn. Thus, with the growth of the construction sector, the market for ball clay will further rise over the forecast period.
Ball Clay Market Segment Analysis By Geography
Asia-Pacific region dominated the ball clay market with a share of 38.2% in the year 2021. APAC region is one of the leading ball clay manufacturers globally, with China and India being the key consumers and suppliers of ball clay. Ball clay is used in tableware, electrical porcelains refractories, adhesives and sealants, rubbers and plastics, fertilizers and insecticides, and other applications. Moreover, the rising growth of several end-use industries such as building & construction, electrical & electronics, transportation, and others, has uplifted the development of the ball clay market. For instance, according to the World Bank, in 2020, the building and construction industry reached US$ 11.9 trillion, with an increase of about 4.2% from 2019. Additionally, according to Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs dAutomobiles (OICA), in Austria, motor vehicle production increased from 1,64,900 units in 2018 to 1,79,400 units in the year 2019. Similarly, in Vietnam, the production of motor vehicles increased from 2,37,000 units in 2018 to 2,50,000 units in the year 2019. With the increasing production of automobiles, it is estimated that in the upcoming years the requirement for ball clay will rise. Thus, the rising usage of ball clay in various end-use industries will drive market growth in the forecast period.
Ball Clay Market Drivers
Increasing Demand for Ball Clay in Transportation Industry
Ball clay in the transportation industry provides great advantages in preventing rust and corrosion on automotive body parts. In automotive parts, ceramics are utilized primarily because they are lightweight, thermally and electrically insulating, can endure high temperatures, and are safe and reliable. Ball clay finds application in ceramic cam rollers, valve discs for high-pressure injection systems, fuel injector pumps, modules for thermal insulation, fuel pump rollers, particulate filters, and catalytic converters, in the engine compartment. Also, ball clay is used in thermal barrier coatings, intake manifolds, pistons, and cylinder heads, for components inside and outside the engine, to improve horsepower, fuel efficiency, general engine performance, and to reduce exhaust emissions. In addition, ceramics are being used in gas turbines, electric vehicles, and fuel cells, since, the transportation industry is developing towards the need for power sources that are more environmentally friendly. Growing demand for electric vehicles in emerging economies such as China, India, Germany, and others is further anticipated to drive the market growth. For instance, according to Invest India, the electric vehicle market in India is estimated to be at US$2 billion by 2023. The number of electric vehicles operating in the medium and heavy passenger vehicle category increased to 1,356 units, in 2021 from 124 units, in 2018. Thus, the increasing application of ball clay in the transportation industry will drive the growth of the market.
Increasing Demand for Fertilizers and Insecticides Made from Ball Clay in Agriculture Industry
In the agriculture industry, ball clay finds usage in numerous applications such as in fertilizers, like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK), di-ammonium phosphate (DAP), and other granular fertilizers. Also, it works as a soil binder, being essential for all living tissues and average growth of plants, as insecticides for plant protection from insects, for soil treatments, and many more. In recent years, rising investments in the chemical & fertilizer sector have raised the demand for the ball clay market. For instance, according to the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, in 2020, the government-provided nutrient-based subsidy of Rs. 15801.96 crores (US$ 2,123.6 million) and urea subsidy of Rs. 53950.75 (US$ 7,251 million) crores on fertilizers. Thus, with the growth of the chemical & fertilizer sector, the market for ball clay will further rise over the forecast period.
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Ball Clay Market Challenges
Availability of Substitutes will Hamper the Market Growth
The substitutes for ball clay floor tile are other floor covering materials such as hardwood, laminate, vinyl sheet & floor tile, stone, carpet, and other strong floorings. Among the different types of substitutes for ball clay, vinyl sheet & floor tile, laminates, and others have less prices compared than that of the ball clay tiles. Also, household utensils made up of porcelains and bentonites instead of ball clays, have a better clean and white look, hence, are more adopted. Thus, the availability of substitutes for ball clay at lower prices and products with a cleaner look will create hurdles for the markets growth over the forecast period.
Ball Clay Industry Outlook
Technology launches, acquisitions, and R&D activities are key strategies adopted by players in this market. Ball clay top 10 companies include:
1) Amarnath Industries
2) Ashapura Group
3) Ashok Alco-Chem Limited (AACL)
4) Finore Minerals LLP
5) G&W Mineral Resources
6) IMERYS Ceramics
7) Kothari Minerals
8) Modkha Marine Sdn Bhd
9) Old Hickory Clay Co.
In May 2020, Sibelco completed the acquisition of Ukraine-based clay manufacturers Euromineral LLC and Kurdyumovsky Plant PrJSC, located in the Donetsk region. The acquisition strengthened the companys market position in terms of Ukrainian clay, an important raw material for the production of porcelain tiles, globally.
The Asia Pacific dominates the ball clay market owing to the rising growth and increasing investments in the building & construction industry. For instance, according to International Trade Administration, in China, construction industry revenue was reported to increase from US$ 968 billion in 2019 to US$ 1.1 trillion in 2021.
Rapidly rising demand for ball clay in the transportation industry, to achieve lightweight vehicles, will be a critical factor driving the growth of the ball clay market in the upcoming years.
The growing demand for ball clay in the agriculture industry for the production of insecticides and fertilizers is estimated to drive the ball clay market growth.
However, the availability of substitutes for ball clay at lower costs and products with a cleaner look is hindering the growth of the ball clay market over the forecast period.
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