Supply and price volatility in the vanadium market has tightened availability to the master alloys market, in turn affecting costs for producers of titanium alloy melted products, delegates heard at the International Titanium Association’s USA conference in Mobile, Alabama, held 22–25th September.
Supply of high purity vanadium pentoxide, which is suitable for the production of master alloys, amounted to 8.1kt contained vanadium in 2018, according to Michael Marucci of master alloy producer Reading Alloys. Of that total, half was used in the production of master alloys—the alloying agent for titanium alloys—followed by 39% in chemicals and 11% in others, including vanadium redox batteries.
Marucci told delegates to “expect turbulence” in the vanadium market in 2019 owing to factors such as the rollout of China’s new high-strength low alloy rebar standards, and potential additional demand from vanadium redox batteries, potentially offset by new supply capacity entering the market this year.
Roskill also presented its view on the vanadium and molybdenum outlook for the next decade, highlighting the dependence of both markets on metal units coming from the by-production route, which amounts to more than 70% of supply for both markets.
Vanadium-based master alloys account for some 80% of the market for titanium alloys and are required for the production of titanium 6-4, which contains 60% aluminium and 40% vanadium, itself a critical material for the production of titanium-based aerospace components.
Master alloy pricing is usually based on the highest cost element—typically vanadium—making these materials key cost components of Ti alloy products. However, with the bulk of the supply of these metals coming from the by-product route, supply is not fully linked to market demand. Furthermore, master alloy production accounts for only a minor portion of vanadium consumption.
Roskill’s Vanadium: Outlook to 2028, 17th Edition report was published in March 2019. Click here to download the brochure and sample pages, or to access further information.