Growth in Supply is Expected to Increase Faster than Demand and Lead to Prices Falling from Record Levels
LONDON, April 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –
Iodine prices experienced a strong increase throughout 2011 reaching a peak of
US$97.5/kg in June on the spot market. This increase was triggered by the March 2011
Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and exacerbated by a supply shortage in South
America. These reductions in supply combined with strong growth in consumption from
applications such as X-ray contrast media, biocides and OPF, led to a surge in prices.
At the beginning of 2012, iodine prices softened to an average of US$67/kg in the
first quarter although supplies remained tight. The fall followed a slight rise in supply
as shipments from ACF Minera’s Algorta Norte project started and output from Japanese
producers recovered to normal rates. Prices subsequently strengthened in Q2 and Q3.
As with all commodities, the price of iodine is determined by the balance between
supply and demand. In 2012, crude iodine production was around 28,700t including an
estimated 5,000t of secondary material. In 2013, production is expected to increase by
around 8% if targets from Chilean producers are reached. The actual increase may only be
around 5-6%. Global demand is expected to rise by 3.5%py to 2017, from 30,600t in 2012.
In the first quarter of 2013, prices continued to soften, dropping to around 11.5%
below Q1 2012 levels. This may have resulted from production rising at a higher rate than
consumption. If production targets are reached, and demand rises as forecast, prices may
decrease further through 2013 and by Q1 2014, contract price may be 10% below Q1 2013
levels. Prices are then forecast to rise progressively at low rate to 2017.
Rise in consumption and future demand driven by X-ray contrast media, biocides and OPF
Iodine is used in a diverse applications by a wide variety of industries. Around half,
however, is used in applications directly related to human health, for example X-ray
contrast media, iodophors (biocides) and pharmaceuticals. Most of the remainder is used in
industrial applications including OPF (Optical Polarizing Film) for liquid crystal
displays (LCDs), catalysts, heat stabilisers and the production of fluorine derivatives.
Markets for iodine tend to be long-established and mature so show low growth rates. The
exception is that for OPF, which has risen from an estimated 200t in 2000 to 3,950t in
The main trade flows of iodine and iodine derivatives are from Chile and Japan to
North America and Europe. Asian imports, especially to China, India and South Korea, have
become increasingly important over the last decade and exceeded those of North America in
2010 and 2012. In terms of consumption, Asia is the leading region followed by Europe and
New capacity entering the market will meet forecast rise in demand
Global capacity is estimated to be divided between primary (70%) and secondary (30%).
The supply of secondary iodine has grown significantly over the last ten years. Most of
this has been from waste generated during OPF production in South Korea, Japan or Taiwan.
Japanese companies account for an estimated two-thirds of secondary production, or 3,000t
Output of crude iodine takes place in nine countries, ordered by size: Chile, Japan,
USA, China, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Indonesia, and Russia. Production is dominated
by Chilean and Japanese companies, which accounted for an estimated 58% and 32%
respectively of global output during 2012. However, an estimated third of Japanese
production is of secondary output recycled from waste.
SQM of Chile is the leading producer, accounting for over a third of global output in
2012. The other major Chilean producers are ACF Minera and Cosayach. In 2011, Cosayach
lost an estimated 2,700tpy of capacity following the closure of unlicenced wells supplying
water to its processing plant. Japanese producers, led by Ise Chemical and Godo Shigen,
have a global capacity of over 10,000tpy.
Supply of crude iodine is expected to be more than sufficient to meet forecast demand.
The main reason for this is the increase in Chilean and, in the longer-term, US
capacities. SQM, ACF Minera, Sirocco Mining and SCM Bullmine are planning to increase
capacity by a combined 5,000tpy by 2014. Japanese secondary production is likely to
increase in line with growth output of OPF.
Iodine: Global Industry Markets and Outlook (11th edition) is available at GBP3230 /
US$5185 / EUR4080 from Roskill Information Services Ltd, 54 Russell Road, London SW19 1QL
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The report contains 272 pages, 138 tables and 122 figures. It provides a detailed
review of the industry, with subsections on the activities of the leading producing
companies. It also analyses consumption, trade and prices.
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SOURCE Roskill Information Services