Global Market Outlook on Bismuth

Global bismuth production is expected to increase by 1.5 percent by the end of 2017. China is the major consumer, producer, and exporter of Bismuth, and it is expected to continue its dominance in the global market in the near future. The country is expected to account for around 70% share of the overall bismuth market.The increasing use of bismuth oxide in growing manufacturing industries is anticipated to drive consumption in the region.

  • The rapid growth of the automobile end-use industry is expected to drive further market growth.Increasing environmental regulations regarding lead usage in various end-use industries would drive the demand for bismuth and bismuth-derived compounds.
  • Stringent regulations and initiatives by leading manufacturers in end-use industries to phase out lead production are expected to prompt bismuth market growth.
  • Russia, Bolivia, and Canada produce bismuth besides China, Vietnam, and México; however, the output is in small quantities.
  • Vietnam became the second largest bismuth producer in 2016, as the Nui Phao bismuth-copper-fluorspar –tungsten mine started production since late 2013.
  • Around 65 percent of the global bismuth reserves are located in China, mainly consolidated in Hunan, Guangdong, and Jiangxi provinces. Bismuth is produced principally as a by-product of the smelting of lead ores, therefore, the reserves are usually based on bismuth content of lead resources. The Tasna Mine in Bolivia and mines in Jihuai County, Guangdong Province in China produced bismuth from bismuth ore.
  • Output of bismuth in Hunan province accounts for around 60 percent of the overall supply in China. Major suppliers in the region are Jinwang Bismuth, Hunan Shizhuyuan Nonferrous Metal Co., Ltd, and Hunan Bismuth Industry Co., Ltd.
  • Output of bismuth in Jiangxi province accounts for around 26 percent of the overall country supply. Major suppliers in the region are Guixi Grand Sanyuan Industry Group, TXTC Group, and Jiangxi Copper Corporation.
  • The major end use for bismuth is chemical applications, including pharmaceutical, pigments, and cosmetics industries. Bismuth is widely used in medical area, due to its antibacterial properties, mainly used to produce bismuth salicylate. Bismuth compounds are used in stomach-upset medicines.
  • In metallurgical additive, bismuth is used as an additive to enhance metallurgical quality in the foundry industry. Because of the lowest values of thermal and electricity conductivity, it can be used in sprinkler systems in buildings. Besides, it is non-toxic, so that can be used to replace toxic lead in many applications, such as plumbing, bullets, birdshot, metal alloys, soldering, and other applications. Other uses include electronics ceramics, catalysts, recycling of uranium nuclear fuels, etc.

In 2016, high-performance pigments are estimated to face highly competitive global business environment. Coatings remain the most significant end use with 54 percent market share, followed by plastics, inks, and cosmetics, respectively. The fastest developing end-use segment is textiles.Declining lead production, due to regulations and declining consumption of lead-acid batteries, is anticipated to be the major restricting factor for the global market. The increasing use of bismuth alternatives in pharmaceuticals and alloys is also a major obstacle to market growth.

Market Updates

  • China exported about 445.1 tons of Bismuth ingots in August 2017, an increase of 25.6 percent compared with the figure of 331.3 tons in July 2017. It was down by 9.02 percent Y-o-Y compared with 489.25 tons in August 2016. The key destinations for bismuth export were the US, Japan, and Germany.
  • China's non-manufacturing purchasing manager index was 54.9 percent during June 2017, an increase of 0.4 percent points since May 2017, rising by two consecutive years. The non-manufacturing industry continued to maintain a steadily expanding development.

Bismuth China Price Analysis 

  • Price Overview: Chinese bismuth ingot prices decreased by 2 percent in October 2017 compared to the previous month and averaged at 4.71 $/Lb. Demand remained low with buyers holding adequate stocks was cited as the key reason for price decrease.
  • Bismuth ingot market witnesses slight price decrease and stable transactions as suppliers hold back from selling. As the transactions are stable, consumers are not very sensitive to the price changes. Demand is showing no improvement because producers are unwilling to sell at lower price.
  • Price Outlook: Bismuth ingot prices are likely to increase in the short term, affected by continuous rise in investment demand that is expected to lift the market to its highest level. Export prices are expected to increase in line with domestic prices and renewed buying from international customers.