Zircon markets are made up of:
- Ceramics and Sanitaryware:
- The ceramics industry (largely tiles) is a major driver for zircon demand, accounting for approximately half of global consumption. This is now the most important application for zircon, having overtaken zircon consumption for refractories during the 1980s. The main features of ceramic tiles are their high hygiene, resistance to stains, dirt and frost. Zircon is also used in the sanitaryware (sinks, lavatories, toilet bowls) industry to provide opacity and whiteness in the glaze, but rarely in the ceramic structure.
- Specialty Chemicals and Materials:
- Demand is growing in this sector, particularly for the zirconium metal and chemical zirconia used in auto catalysts and technology driven applications.
- Refractories and foundries
- Zircon has a high melting point and thermal shock resistance, making it a suitable candidate for use as a refectory in high-temperature applications. In these applications, zircon is used to make refractory bricks and moulds for steel and glass industries.