Between 2018 and 2023, total lime production is expected to top 380 million tons, according to CW Research’s 2018 update of the Global Quicklime, Slaked Lime and Hydraulic Lime Market Report.
Value-wise, the global lime market is projected to reach USD 30 billion over the same period, half of which will likely be accounted for by China. As the world’s largest lime producer, China’s lowering production levels have led to a modest increase in ex-works pricing, which impacted the current market size of the Chinese lime industry.
“The nation-wide scale back of industrial capacity extended to the lime industry in China. Moreover, lime-intensive industries in the country are trying to align themselves with the lime usage ratios of Western industries”, observes Raluca Cercel, Associate with CW Research.
In terms of production by type, historically, three-quarters of the total lime output are sold as quicklime. This segmentation trend is likely to subsist in the following years, with many quicklime buyers slaking the commodity individually for construction purposes, particularly in developing countries. Nevertheless, hydrating the lime is a more complicated process than slaking, hence manufacturers produce hydrating lime in-house and then sell it to various end-user segments.
Steel sector slowdown to dampen quicklime demand
Estimated at over 394 million tons, total lime consumption has slightly decreased compared to 2017. Regionally, China tops the list of lime-consuming markets, boosting a three-digit consumption figure. The country is followed at a long distance by Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Asia ex-China, and Africa, all of which fall below the 60kg per capita mark.
According to CW Research, all of lime end-user segments, such as steel, civil construction, aluminum, FGD, agriculture, road construction, paper and pulp, sugar cane, metallurgy and ore, and oil, will expand over the next five years, diverging according to the region. In Asia, lime consumption growth will be driven by paper and pulp, aluminum and FGD applications, whereas in developing regions such as Africa and the Middle East, which are still developing their industrial sectors, the steel industry, FGD, metallurgy and ore, and the oil sector are leading the way.
The expected slowdown in the Chinese steel industry, traditionally a major driver for lime consumption, is projected to negatively affect quicklime demand – in turn forecasted to record a modest contraction between 2018 and 2023.
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