BORON – TIME TO INVEST
The market for Boron is global and expansive. The world’s major end-users of boron are the chemical industry, nuclear power plants, steel manufacturing, oil refineries, and aerospace industries. In recent years, the demand for it has grown by more than 6% due to several factors, including population growth and increased industrialization in developing countries such as China.
Few substitutes are available for boron, so it is difficult to find alternatives if supplies are interrupted or prices soar.
With low prices leading to high demand and an uncertain future for even long-term commodities like oil, many reasons investing in Boron stocks – American Pacific Borates (ABR) – is a representative example – might be worth considering now as opposed to later when they’re sure bets. For example, some of these investments will provide additional revenue streams from their other products or services, which could stabilize any income lost over time due to economic factors such as global recession and technological advances like fracking shale gas deposits.
So What is Boron
It is a low-abundance, semi-metallic element used in various industries, including glass and agriculture.
Boron is a rare, semi-metallic element. It combines with oxygen and other natural elements in nature to form several different compounds called borates. These borates can be found in oceans, coal, shale, and sedimentary rocks. In rocks, its concentrations can vary between 5 milligrams per kilogram in basalts, 100 mg/kg in shales, and 4.5 mg/liter in the ocean.
The Global Market for Boron
The global borates market is over 2 million tonnes of B₂O₃ equivalent, with the key traditional industries being glass, ceramics, modern medicines, agriculture, and detergents.
The global borates market is expected to grow at 3% CAGR for the next five years to reach 2.65 million tonnes (Mt) B₂O₃ equivalent by 2023.
This increase in demand for refined borates is equivalent to 344,000 Mt of Borax Pentahydrate and 201,000 Mt of Boric Acid, a very substantial amount. Borax Pentahydrate and Decahydrate trade has grown by 30% in the past two years, from 1,371 Kilo Metric Tonnes (KMT) in 2016 to 1,781 KMT in 2018.
Key demand drivers in the borates market are growth in urbanization (global housing market), global population, sustainable food supply, and energy production.
Rio Tinto Borates in the US (~30%) and ETI MADEN of Turkey (>50%) account for approximately 80% of the total global market share, with Asia maintaining its position as the largest regional consumer of borates, accounting for more than 50% of total global consumption.
Borates increase the mechanical strength of glass and their resistance to thermal shock, chemicals, and water. Glass manufacturing is a key market for borates accounting for more than 50% of global consumption, predominantly comprised of fiberglass (both insulation and electronics) and borosilicate glasses.
Agricultural markets account for a significant global consumption share (~15%). At the cellular level, it is integral to a plant’s reproductive cycle. Boron controls flowering, pollen production, germination, and seed and fruit development. As a non-substitutable micronutrient, it also acts as a plant’s fuel pump, helping move sugars from older leaves to new growth areas and root systems.
Every continent of the world suffers diminished crop yields due to insufficient boron concentrations in the soil. These deficiencies can be corrected using borate fertilizers.
The global Boron Nitride Nanotubes (BNNT) market was valued at USD 38 million in 2019, and it is expected to reach USD 59 million by the end of 2026, growing at a CAGR of 7.0% during 2021-2026.
Applications That Have Amplified The Market Size
It is an essential element, mainly found in water, soil, and rocks around the globe. The average soil boron concentration ranges from 10 to 20 ppm, whereas average seawater concentrations range from 0.5 to 0.9 ppm. These minerals and chemicals are economically produced and consumed across the globe. The open-cast mining technique is mostly utilized to mine huge high-grade crude borax deposits in the U.S. and Turkey.
Boric acid market size is anticipated to register substantial gains over the forecast period due to increasing product demand for energy-saving appliances. It is extensively utilized in fiberglass production for insulating residential and commercial buildings. Increased awareness regarding different energy conservation methods and materials is anticipated to trigger boric acid demand, thus driving the boron chemicals market growth.
The glass and ceramics market size is predicted to rise significantly in the projected timeframe owing to the increasing usage of glass and ceramics in the construction industry.
Upsurge in construction activities, mainly in China and India, due to increasing private-public partnerships for infrastructure development and high government construction spending for large-scale projects, including highways and railways, will drive construction industry growth, thereby fueling demand for its compounds in glass-ceramics.
Additionally, manufacturing flat display panel glass for television is another significant boron-consuming application. A shift in consumer preference from cathode-ray tube (CRT) TVs to flat-screen TVs may boost flat-panel glass panel demand. Approximately 11-13% boron oxide is used to produce flat panel glass, thereby driving its market growth for its minerals and chemicals.
The detergents and bleach market will likely grow significantly over the estimated timeframe. Its compounds, including borax, anhydrous borax, and boric acid, are widely used in the chemical industry to produce detergents and laundry bleaches.
Increasing demand for safe and reliable laundry detergent from various industries, including hospitals, restaurants, hotels, and the textile industry, is anticipated to boost industry growth, thereby driving its minerals & chemicals demand.
The boron chemicals & minerals market size from agrochemicals is projected to witness steady growth. Its compounds are widely used in manufacturing agrochemicals and plant supplements. It is a vital element for plants that helps relocate sugar from leaves to the reproductive system, thus allowing pollination followed by seed development.
The decreased infertile land and water due to urbanization has shifted focus to adopting innovative technologies to boost crop yield. Agrochemicals help achieve high-quality nutritive crops with maximum yield, which is anticipated to propel product demand, thereby propelling boron compounds market growth.
The global insulation market was predicted at approximately USD 50 billion in 2018, with gains at over 5.5% in the estimated timeframe. Fiberglass accounted for the second-largest product segment in 2018, with gains of over 5%.
Insulating and acoustic properties, including high tensile strength and low weight, along with low cost and maintenance, are driving the demand for fiberglass in the insulation market, likely fueling its minerals and chemicals market growth.
North America, led by Mexico, Canada, and the U.S., boron minerals and chemicals market size, is anticipated to rise significantly in the projected period. Increasing demand for products in the metals and alloy industry on account of significant growth in the automotive sector in this region is likely to drive regional industry growth.
Investing In Boron For A Profitable Outcome
According to a report from QY Research last year, the global market for refined boron is worth about $US2.04 billion ($3.01 billion).
The refined boron market is forecasted to reach about $2.9 billion by the end of 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of about 4.5 percent.
According to a report from Allied Market Research, the current global crop micronutrient market was about $6.07 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach $11.5 billion by 2025.
This equates to a compound annual growth rate of 8.3 percent.
Anybody invested in potash or phosphate would know the investment rationale here.
Asia-Pacific is expected to contribute to most of the demand, with a CAGR of 8.9 percent. India can be singled out as a standout market thanks to its challenges of dealing with a climate that can swing from monsoon to drought.
The research has found that “Factors such as the effectiveness of micronutrients for crop yield and productivity, increased awareness among growers about the benefits of micronutrients and shrinkage of agricultural land, are driving the global crop micronutrients market.”
And it is expected to play one of the leading roles in the micronutrient market, only ranking behind zinc and copper as the micronutrient ingredients are expected to rise in the coming years.
Boron is shaping as a niche commodities market where demand is expected to outstrip supply, creating a supportive pricing environment in the years to come.
While its use in industrial applications such as glass manufacture gives the commodity its current impetus, its use in micronutrients is expected to play a larger role in the next decade. (Read our article on the importance of boron as a micronutrient to improve plant health to know more!)
Given a paucity of investor options for getting into boron (you would hardly pile into Rio Tinto for its boron exposure), the existing options should expect to see some interest in the coming years.
It is a key element in manufacturing high-quality steel, and it’s mined from borax deposits. But if you are looking for an investment with a profitable outcome, investing in borax may be more worthwhile than buying shares on the stock market. Demand for this mineral has been steadily increasing for many years as countries worldwide have started using its products more often. According to some sources, the global consumption of boron compounds was about 3 million tons in 2014 alone, and they predict that by 2020 this figure will rise to 4 million tons per year.
Meanwhile, check out the Stock Ticker on Borates Today to learn more about potential stocks in which to invest.