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Outlook Reexamined for 2009: “Early Bird”

Issue W • January 2010

This is the "Early Bird" version of the Reexamined Outlooks.  This issue is more or less for the record and repeats or expands on what has already appeared on the Basics Mines Update blog.  The mineral and metal commodities covered on this website represent narrow slices of the minerals and metals industry but are representative of the entire minerals and metals industry and even of much of the U.S. and world economy.  Dimension stone, bismuth, graphite, and indium are all alike in 2009 in having a terrible year without any precedent in history.  Some of the statistical trends for the covered commodities suggest that 2010 could be better.

The demand statistics and other items are being released on the Basics Mines Update blog earlier and more frequently; this blog can be found on http://basicsmines-update.blogspot.com, replacing some of these issues.

The dimension stone outlook for 2009:  The Overall (U.S.) Dimension Stone Production-Demand Index (sales) in 2009 appear likely to be down 33% from 328 (semifinal) in 2008 to 219 (semifinal) for 2009.  The biggest market sector in 2009 is granite countertops, the index for which has been down 36% from 2008 (observers indicate sales are likely to be down 30% from 2008).  The Demand Index for Granite Countertops was 948 in 2008 (semifinal), and 606 in 2009 (semifinal).  The Granite and Marble Tile Demand Index in 2009 is down 34% from 2008.  The Demand Index for Granite and Marble Tile was 429 in 2008 (semifinal), and 283 in 2009 (semifinal).   Domestic monumental granite sales in 2009 are down 9% from 2008.  Indiana limestone 2009 sales are down 8% from 2008, 2009 domestic slate sales down 4%, and 2009 sandstone sales are down 14% or so from 2008.

The 2009 outlook for natural graphite looks very bad, in the absence of most statistical information.  The U.S. graphite import statistics have been close to the same for 2006, 2007, and 2008, but 2009 imports appear to be down 40%-45% from 2008.  Aside from this, there is much less data; the USGS 2008 graphite consumption statistics are not published yet.  The GAN observers expect drops in overall 2009 graphite consumption of 30% to 35% from 2008, with consumption in graphite-containing refractories down 50% and consumption in graphite foil-expanded graphite uses down 40%-50%.

The 2009 outlook for bismuth looks very discouraging.  January-November U.S. 2009 import data dropped around 40% from same period 2008, suggesting a major drop in annual U.S. demand.  Demand (U.S. consumption) by quarter in 2008-09 YTD held up the best for the uses in chemicals, next for metallurgical additives, and worst for bismuth alloys.  Total 2008 U.S. consumption dropped 11% from 2007, and the 2008 World Bismuth Demand Index (2004=100) dropped 55% from 2007, or from 122 in 2007 to 55 in 2008.  The NY Dealer Price for bismuth metal did not change dramatically from January 2009, drifting down to $7 per lb. in summer 2009 and recovering to almost $9 in November 2009.  The Customer-Input Price for bismuth drifted around the $26-$27 per kg. range in 2009, from around $29 in November-December 2008; the 2009 monthly Customer-Input prices for bismuth metal are on customer-inputprices.blogspot.com

For indium, the 2009 outlook for world ITO demand is likely to be down 30% from 2008, and 2009 North American ITO demand appears close to level with 2008; 2010 could be better.  World  2009 demand for indium alloys and solders appears to be up a few percent from 2008.  World solar cell plants are likely to have used 35 to 45 tonnes of indium in 2009, which could double in 2010.

The demand and other statistics are being updated more frequently on Basics/Mines blog, replacing some of these issues.

For more detail see the specific commodity issues:

Dimension Stone Advocate News

Graphite Advocate News

Indium Advocate News

Bismuth Advocate News

Basics/Mines provides news and expertise on four mineral commodities, dimension stone, graphite, bismuth, and indium.

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