The market for Limestone is anticipated to register a CAGR of over 3% during the forecast period. Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed primarily of calcium carbonate in the form of mineral calcite. It can also be in the form of chemical sedimentary rock, formed by the precipitation of calcium carbonate from lake or ocean water.
- Increasing demand from the construction industry along with rising steel production in the global market is proving to be the key driver in the global market.
- On the flipside, the negative economic effects of COVID-19 are expected to hinder the growth of the market studied.
Key Market Trends
Steel Manufacturing and Other Industries (Including Energy) to Dominate the Market
- On an average, about 270 kg limestone is used to produce 1,000 kg of crude steel, when produced through blast furnace (BF) and basic oxygen furnace (BOF). However, when an electric arc furnace is used, around 88 kg of limestone is used to produce 1,000 kg of crude steel.
- According to the World Steel Association, the production of steel was 1808 million metric tons in 2018 and 1870 million metric tons in 2019.
- However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, all the countries are under temporary lockdown, which is expected to hinder the manufacturing of steel for the temporary period. However, production is expected to increase during the forecast period.
- Apart from manufacturing steel, limestone is also used in fossil-fuel power plants to perform flue-gas desulfurization, which removes the sulfur dioxide from flue gas emissions.
- According to UNEP, Coal is currently the leading fuel in the power sector, accounting for 37.8% of electricity generated, with hydropower accounting for 17.5%, natural gas for 17.3%, nuclear for 16.8%, oil for 9%, and non-hydro renewables for 1.6%.
- Coal is expected to remain the principal fuel for power generation in 2020 (about ~36%), whereas natural-gas generation is expected to be the second-biggest source,, surpassing the capacity of hydroelectric power.
- According to the US Energy Information Administration, the capacity factor for the coal power plants in the United States had increased from 53.3% to 54% during 2016-18.
- On average, the global coal plants were running approximately half the time in 2019, with a load factor of 53.5%. The trend is similar in the United States, European Union, China, and India with a load factor 49%, 37%, 49%, and 57%, respectively.
- The Government of India developed the National Electricity Plan of 2018 (NEP2018) and announced an additional 70GW or more of new coal-fired power plants by 2026-27, which is expected to create a demand for limestone in the power generation sector.
- Owing to the aforementioned factors, the demand for limestone in the power generation sector is projected to grow during the forecast period. However, the disruptions in R&D activities, due to the economic slowdown and the lockdown, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, is expected to have a negative impact on the growth of the power generation industry in the short term, with an adverse effect on the market studied.
India to Drive the Asia-Pacific Market Growth
- India is a growing economy and holds great potential for future market opportunities. The country witnessed a decline in its GDP growth to around 5% in 2019, from 7.1% in 2018. The stagnation caused in the industrial output, greenfield investment, and flattened demand have led to a decline in the growth rate in the country.
- The outbreak of COVID-19 affected the domestic construction, industrial, and manufacturing activities in the first half of 2020. The COVID-19 outbreak seems to persist in the third quarter of 2020 as well, which, in turn, is expected to continue affecting the demand in the market studied during the year.
- The construction industry in the country witnessed a growth of around 7.1% in 2019, and it was expected to grow at a high rate during the forecast period (before COVID-19). The residential construction industry is going through major structural changes, with increasing construction of residential societies and high-rise building construction, rather than independent houses and bungalows.
- While the construction industry is expected to slowdown in the 2020-2021 financial year due to COVID-19, the lion’s share of the projects in the commercial space is likely to drive the construction activities after the lockdown is over, as they are either in public-private partnership (like smart city) or public projects, which are already budgeted.
- Therefore, in the long run, the construction sector is expected to register a high growth rate, which is projected to positively influence the demand for steel, blocks and bricks, stone cladding for walls, etc. As limestone is used in the production of such construction materials, along with direct application during construction activities, such trends are likely to significantly create demand for limestone over the forecast period.
- India is the world’s second-largest producer of steel. The steel production in the country has been increasing at a rapid pace owing to the soaring demand from the automotive and infrastructure sectors in the country, along with governmental initiatives (such as the National Steel Policy), which is supporting the growth of the steel production in India.
- The production of steel in the country is expected to double by 2031, while a growth rate of about 1.8% was recorded in 2019. Such targets of the country are expected to increase the demand for limestone from the steel industry in the years to come.
- The water treatment and recycle industry is experiencing high growth, owing to the increasing water shortages occurring in the country. India has a total municipal water treatment capacity of about 22,960 million liter per day, whereas the required capacity is 61,754 million liter per day.
- India has a large pulp and paper manufacturing industry. The capacity utilization of this industry is low, and it is still on the downward trend with increasing import pressure. This is further affected by the outbreak of COVID-19, with production halted both due to lockdown and severe crunch of raw materials, which is expected to continue during the current year.
- Clearly, the industry has come to a point where the raw material crunch has started to take its toll, and the sector has almost stretched its limit for capacity debottlenecking. This is expected to have a negative effect on the demand for pulp and paper manufacturing over the coming years. While limestone is used as coagulant, causticizing agent, bleaching agent, and neutralizing agent in the paper industry, limestone demand is also likely to witness negative repercussions of this scenario in the pulp and paper industry over the forecast period.
- Therefore, considering such market trends, the limestone market is likely to hold huge growth opportunities in India over the forecast period, once the country revives its operations, which have currently been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The limestone market is partially fragmented. In terms of market share, few of the major players currently dominate the market. Key players in the limestone market include Imerys, CARMEUSE, Graymont Limited, Mineral Technologies Inc., and Lhoist Group, among others.
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