The global iron oxide pigments market size was valued at USD 2,246 million in 2022. It is estimated to reach USD 3,352 million by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 4.55% during the forecast period (2023–2031).
Iron oxides are natural pigments ranging from black and brown to yellow and red. One or more ferrous or ferric oxides combined with impurities like manganese, clay, or organics make up natural iron oxides. However, commercial forms are produced by synthesis and via the thermal decomposition of iron salts or compounds, precipitation of iron salts followed by oxidation, or reduction of organic compounds. In contrast to some of the brighter and cleaner colors that specific other colors transmit, they produce pastel hues. These are non-toxic, nonbleeding, weather-resistant, and lightfast. They have a robust tinting strength and are more opaque than other colors and thus can often be used at a lower ratio compared to natural pigments.
Iron oxide pigments are widely used in numerous construction applications, including concrete, roof tiles, soft fall rubber, bricks, blocks, pavers, and asphalt due to superior properties such as non-toxicity, inertness, opacity, cost-effectiveness, uniformity of color, and chemical and UV resistance, among others. It is used in concrete production due to benefits such as reduced dust, improved flowability, and reduced product loss. The market for iron oxide pigments is expanding as a result of the expanding residential and commercial construction sectors in developing nations, particularly in China and India, as well as rising living standards and increased disposable incomes.
Furthermore, increased residential construction and infrastructure spending in developed nations are key growth drivers for the iron oxide pigments market. The increasing demand for commercial spaces in developed and developing countries due to the growth of service sectors such as IT, BFSI, and telecom is driving the development of the construction industry. The growing construction industry, projected to increase the demand for cement, is expected to fuel the global iron oxide pigments market growth during the forecast period.
Iron oxide pigments with high tinting strength, high hiding power, weather resistance, acid and alkaline resistance, and easy dispersion are required in paints and coatings. Increasing demand for iron oxide pigments for various applications, such as architectural coatings, industrial coatings, protective coatings, coatings for packaging, wood coatings, oil-based coatings, and powder coatings, is another key growth driver in the global iron oxide pigments market. In addition, the paints and coatings industry is growing due to their increasing demand in numerous applications such as automobiles, buildings, and plastics. Thus, the growing use of iron oxide pigments in paints and coatings is expected to drive the global iron oxide pigments market growth during the forecast period.
A complex regulatory framework governs mining activities all around the world. Significant environmental problems are caused by mining. Numerous pollutants are created and released into the air, water, and land, including waste rock, tailings, acid mine drainage, airborne dust, and others. These reasons make mining activities subject to very stringent environmental regulations. Some of the federal laws that regulate mining in the US are Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act (CWA), etc. Therefore, the stringent regulations on mining activities will likely hamper the global iron oxide pigments market growth during the forecast period.
Iron oxide pigments are deployed in applications such as catalysts in the petroleum industry, oil drilling rigs, hydrogen sulfide removal, and hydrogen gas production. By catalytically splitting residual petroleum oil in a steam environment, iron oxide catalysts, including zirconium and aluminum, are employed to make light hydrocarbons. The catalyst, which has a hematite structure, is helpful for the desulfurization and breakdown of leftover oil. The importance of renewable energy has increased due to the rising global energy demand, shifting oil prices, and climate changes.
Metallic iron is oxidized by steam, which results in the release of hydrogen and iron oxides. The technique produces extremely pure hydrogen since the gaseous byproducts of the oxidation reaction are hydrogen and steam. Metalworking, manufacturing flat glass as a protective and carrier gas, deposition processes, cleaning, etching, and reduction operations are just a few industrial uses for hydrogen. It is also used in electricity generation, in processing crude oil into refined fuels, and used through fuel cells for electric vehicles, aviation, and the maritime industry. Furthermore, according to the Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (APICORP), there are ten latest energy projects concerning oil and gas in countries such as Iraq, Kuwait, UAE, and Oman. These projects will drive the demand for iron oxide pigments in drilling rigs, creating lucrative opportunities for the players operating in the global iron oxide pigments market.
The global iron oxide pigments market is segmented by type, color, and end-use industry.
Based on type, the global iron oxide pigments market is divided into natural and synthetic.
The synthetic segment is responsible for the largest market share and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.97% over the forecast period. Synthetic pigments are manufactured under controlled conditions to replicate the distribution, particle size, and shape accurately, resulting in superior color quality, uniformity, and chemical purity. Iron oxide pigments are widely created through steelmaking. When treated with hydrochloric acid to remove surface oxides, steel regenerates acid to be recycled and produce iron oxide. In addition, regenerated iron oxides are used in various filters, inductors, and transformers in electronic home devices and industrial equipment, and flexible magnets, loudspeakers, generators, and electric car motors. New synthetic iron oxide pigment industry developments in recent years include granular forms of iron oxides and versions of nano-sized materials used in computer disk drives and high-performance loudspeakers and biology and medicine, including nuclear magnetic resonance imaging.
Natural iron oxide pigments are widely used in art applications. Natural pigments are derived from various iron oxide minerals. For instance, red pigments are derived from hematite, and yellow and brown pigments are from ochres. Natural iron oxide pigments are widely used as colorants for glass, paper, plastic, rubber, ceramic glazes, and textiles, as well as in cosmetics, magnetic ink, and toner. Natural iron oxide pigments are low-cost materials with good chemical resistance, resist color change due to sunlight exposure, and are stable in ambient conditions.
Based on color, the global iron oxide pigments market is divided into red, yellow, black, and others.
The red color segment is the highest contributor to the market share and is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 3.68% over the forecast period. Synthetic red iron oxide is a standard oxide color and has the highest amount of iron. Due to its pure color, constant characteristics, and tinting strength, have gained increasing significance in several application areas. It is available commercially as a soft and very fine dry powder made by grinding the ore material or heat processing ferrous/ferric sulfate or ferric hydroxide.
Synthetic black iron oxide is an inorganic pigment of fine particle size and has excellent tinctorial strength and lightfastness. The pigment is resistant to alkali, non-toxic, and non-inflammable, producing beautiful shades of variegated colors. The black iron oxide pigments are widely used in flooring tiles, cement color, paints, lime colors, paint, printing ink, plastics, ceramics, linoleum, shoe polish, vinyl flooring, paper coating chalk and crayons, leather, and various other applications.
Based on the end-user industry, the global iron oxide pigments market is segmented into construction, paints and coatings, plastics, paper, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and personal care, food and beverages, and others.
The construction segment owns the highest market share and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 4.33% over the forecast period. Iron oxide is an essential and valuable chemical compound of iron and oxygen; it occurs naturally and can also be produced industrially. They are primarily used as iron ores, catalysts, pigments, and thermite. Iron oxide pigments are among the essential inorganic pigments. They are valued for their ability to remain stable in fluctuating temperatures, have a low reactive nature, display low toxicity, and have excellent tinting strength. It is widely used in the construction industry due to the ever-increasing requirement for infrastructure development. The construction industries account for a third of the global demand for iron oxide and iron oxide pigments.
The coloration of plastics is a critical process that is carried out to improve plastics' aesthetics and enhance plastics performance. From the beginning of the history of plastics, inorganic pigments have very well fit into the coloration of such material. Iron oxide pigments with solid tinting strength, pure color characteristics, a coloring agent, and a filler are used in PVC plastic flooring, PVC-colored film, and thermosetting plastics. Iron oxide pigments also can be incorporated into a masterbatch or slurry preparation, which has become very popular in the plastic industry.
Based on region, the global iron oxide pigments market is divided into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East and Africa.
Asia-Pacific is the most significant shareholder in the global iron oxide pigments market and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 5.36% during the forecast period. The region's need for iron oxide pigments is expected to increase dramatically due to the expanding building activity. Leading MNCs have been making significant investments in the manufacturing and industrial sectors in the Asia-Pacific. Investors are drawn to the area even more due to the accessibility of inexpensive labor and the closeness to raw materials suppliers. China and India are anticipated to fuel regional market expansion significantly over the forecast period. The One Belt One Road project, which the Chinese government launched in late 2013 to enhance transportation infrastructure, is expected to fuel the market expansion for iron oxide pigments.
Furthermore, India has substantial iron ore resources, with Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Odisha, Goa, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu being the primary producers. Market expansion is driven by the Indian government's increasing investment in infrastructure projects, including the Green Corridor, Smart Cities Mission, and the construction of ports. In addition, according to Invest India, the construction industry in the country was expected to reach USD 738.5 billion in 2022. As a result, the region's expanding manufacturing and industrial sectors are boosting the expansion of the construction industry, which is then anticipated to lead to an increase in demand for iron oxide pigments and consequent market growth throughout the forecast period. Further, Golchha Oxides Pvt Ltd, Tata Pigments Limited, Koel Colours Pvt Ltd, Xinxiang Rongbo Pigment Science & Technology Co. Ltd, Jiangsu Yuxing Industry and Trade Co. Ltd, and many more are among the leading manufacturers of iron oxide pigments in the Asia-Pacific area.
Europe is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.90% over the forecast period. The rising use of iron oxide pigments in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical sectors will expand the European market. Moreover, with European construction companies focusing on vertical integration to gain a competitive edge and expand their presence in other regions, the construction industry is expected to grow significantly during the review period. This growth will likely drive the region's demand for iron oxide pigments. In addition, iron oxide pigment is abundant in several European nations, including Cyprus, France, Iran, Italy, and Spain. As a result, Europe's supply of iron oxide pigments is often close to its current demand, thereby driving regional market growth.
The expansion of the market in the North American region is a result of an increase in the usage of synthetic pigments in the plastic and food and beverage sectors. The area's commercial construction industry continued to expand due to a strong economy, supportive commercial real estate market fundamentals, and increasing federal and state finance for public works and institutional buildings. In the US, the construction industry's revenue crossed USD 1 trillion in 2016-2017 and was expected to reach USD 1.7 trillion by 2020. This market growth can be attributed to increased residential construction with the growing need for single-family dwellings. In addition, increased investment in the residential construction sector and rising demand for modifying existing structures are the primary factors driving the iron oxide pigments market in the nation, in turn driving the market in the region.
Although Latin America and the Middle East and Africa account for a small portion of the supply of iron oxide pigments, demand is expected to increase rapidly in the future. As a result of the expanding market for products in the paper and plastic sectors, the Middle East and Africa is expected to see substantial development.
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