The Precious Metal Refining Market size is forecast to reach US$25.3 billion by 2027 after growing at a CAGR of 6% during the forecast period 2022-2027. Precious metals are available in a wide range of product types which include gold, iridium, silver, platinum, palladium, ruthenium, and others. They are used for a wide range of applications which include jewelry, watches, catalysts, automotive, electronics, antimicrobial agents, and other similar applications. According to recent insights from the Semiconductor Industry Association, China imported around US$378 billion in semiconductors, accumulated 35% of the world’s electronic devices, and was responsible for 30% to 70% of the global PC, TV, and mobile phone exports in 2020. An increase in demand for precious metals from the automotive and electronic sectors acts as the major driver for the market. On the other hand, fluctuating prices of raw materials are likely to obstruct the market and hinder its growth.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 lockdown has significantly reduced production activities as a result of the country-wise shutdown of production sites, shortage of labor, and the decline of supply and demand chain all over the world, thus, affecting the market. Studies show that the outbreak of COVID-19 sharply declined the production of raw materials in 2020 due to a lack of operations across multiple countries around the world. However, a slow recovery has been witnessed across many countries around the world since 2021. For instance, an increase in work from home and e-learning practices during COVID-19 has significantly led to high demand for laptops, tablets, and smartphones which have resulted in the higher production of these electronics. According to the Retailers Association of India (RAI), consumer electronics net sales increased by 2% in September and 8% in October 2020, in comparison to 2019, owing to the increasing consumption of electronic devices for remote practices during COVID-19.
Since precious metals are widely used in the electronic industry for applications such as electroplating, optical coatings, electrical insulation of batteries, printed circuits boards, and other similar electronic components, an increase in production from electronic sectors will eventually lead to an increase in demand for precious metal refining. This indicates a slow and steady recovery of the market in the upcoming years.
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Precious Metal Refining Market Segment Analysis – By Type
The silver segment held the largest share in the Precious Metal Refining Market in 2021 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.2% between 2022 and 2027, owing to its increasing demand from industrial applications due to the properties they hold. Silver is highly resistant to oxidation and corrosion. It is considered to be the greatest thermal and electrical conductor of all the metals which makes it ideal for electrical and electronic applications in comparison to gold, platinum, palladium, ruthenium, and other precious metals. Moreover, it has antimicrobial and non-toxic qualities which makes it quite beneficial for use in medicine and consumer products as well. Likewise, it is highly flexible in comparison to other precious metals which makes it easier to be flattened into sheets, as well as into thin, flexible wire. All of these properties make it ideal for use in various industrial applications. In addition to this, silver is readily available, less expensive, and cost-effective than gold, platinum, and other precious metals which makes it ideal for use in various industrial applications. Hence, all of these properties are driving its demand over other types of precious metals, thus, boosting the market growth.
Precious Metal Refining Market Segment Analysis – By Application
The electronic application held the largest share in the Precious Metal Refining Market in 2021 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.5% between 2022 and 2027, due to increasing demand in electronic applications such as batteries, printed circuits boards, electroplating, optical coatings, electrical insulation, and other similar applications. In October 2020, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) stated that global semiconductor industry sales reached up to US$47.2 billion in August 2021, and increased by 29.7% in comparison to the total sales of US$36.4 billion in August 2020. Furthermore, Lenovo Group, a leading brand in consumer electronics such as laptops, smartphones, desktops, monitors, and display screens, published the annual report for the fiscal year that ended in March 2021, which stated that the total revenue of the company reached up to US$60,742 million in the fiscal year 2020/21, an increase by 20% in comparison to the fiscal year 2019/20. According to recent insights published on Growth from Knowledge (GRK) in September 2021, the global consumer electronics industry obtained a total sales growth of US$ 42.8 billion during the first quarter of 2021, an increase of 18% in comparison to 2020. This, in turn, will increase the demand for precious metals refining required for the production of electronic applications such as electroplating, optical coatings, electrical insulation, printed circuits boards, and other similar applications, thus, leading to market growth in the forecast period.
Precious Metal Refining Market Segment Analysis – By Geography
The Asia Pacific held the largest share in the Precious Metal Refining Market in 2021 up to 32%. The consumption of Precious Metal Refining is particularly high in this region due to its increasing demand from the electronic sectors. For instance, according to a recent study published in the Economic Times (Telecom) in 2021, electronic manufacturing and production are valued at around US$ 100 billion in India currently. It further states that mobile manufacturing in India surpassed INR 90000 crore (US$ 12 trillion) in 2021 as per the statement made by the Indian IT Minister. Likewise, according to the annual reports published by Samsung during the fourth quarter of 2020, the total revenue of the consumer electronics division was valued at KRW 13.6 trillion (US$ 11.3 billion) with an operating profit of KRW 0.8 trillion (US$ 668 million).
Furthermore, according to the Statistical Handbook of Japan 2021, the production and shipments of electronic equipment reached up to US$52.6 billion during the fourth quarter of 2020 and is expected to increase in the upcoming year. Hence, the accelerating usage of precious metal refining in the electronic industry for applications such as electroplating, optical coatings, electrical insulation of batteries, printed circuits boards, and other similar electronic components is anticipated to drive the market growth in the forecast period.
Precious Metal Refining Market Drivers
An increase in demand from the electronics industry is most likely to increase demand for the product
The demand for precious metal refining has been increasing rapidly as it is primarily used for applications such as electroplating, optical coatings, electrical insulation of printed circuits boards, and batteries in electronic equipment and devices. According to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), U.S. semiconductor industry R&D expenditures grew at an annual growth rate of 7.2% from 2000 to 2020. In 2020, total U.S. semiconductor industry investment in R&D totaled US$ 44 billion. R&D expenditures on the semiconductor industry alone account for 18.6% of the total expenditure. It further states that the U.S invested around US$ 142.2 billion on computers, and US$ 53 billion on consumer electronics such as cell phones, TV and other similar applications. Furthermore, China’s National IC Fund had invested US$39 billion in July 2021, among which 69.7% had been allotted for front-end manufacturing with the aim of increasing China’s share of global semiconductor production. In addition to this, China has also proclaimed more than 15 local government IC funds worth US$25 billion along with the National Fund which amounts to US$ 73 billion in total for funding Chinese electronics and semiconductor companies. In this way, an increase in demand for electronics products, components, and semiconductors will also increase the demand for precious metal refining.
An increase in demand from the automotive industry is most likely to increase demand for the product
According to a recent study published by the German Association of Automotive Industry during the fourth quarter of 2020, the new registration of motor vehicles reached up to 16,763 units in Europe, 37,467 units in Asia, 3080 units in South America, 17,421 units in North America, 12,733 units in Western Europe, and 5180 units in other regions worldwide. Likewise, a recent study published by the International Netherlands Group (ING) states that the demand for the production and development of Electric Vehicles has been increasing since the pandemic. It states that the global sales of new Electric Vehicles have increased by 50% in 2021, and it is expected to increase by 8% in 2022. It further states that the sales of Electric Vehicles have increased by 14% in Europe, 9% in China, and 4% in the US. Since precious metal refining is commonly used in various automobile applications such as engine units, switches, reflective films & mirrors, fuel cells, batteries and other electronic components of the automobile, an increase in automobile production is most likely to drive the growth of the market in the upcoming years.
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Precious Metal Refining Market Challenges
Fluctuating prices of raw materials may cause an obstruction to the market growthThe prices of precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum, and others usually vary on a daily basis since they are traded on the stock exchange. These fluctuations mostly lead to high manufacturing costs. For instance, the price of gold depicted fluctuations on-trend throughout the year 2020. The price of gold reached up to US$ 656.78/10 grams in 2020 from US$ 475.57/10 grams in 2019. Likewise, the price of silver reached up to US$ 560.25 per kg on 21 June 2019 from US$ 531.90 per kg on 1 June 2019, an increase of 3.55% in a span of less than a month. Moreover, the price of platinum generally fluctuates the most among all precious metals. In 2021, the price of platinum declined from its peak value of US$ 1071 during the year opening to US$ 950 during the closing of the year, a decline of 11.91%. Furthermore, in 2020, the price of platinum inclined to US$ 1078.44 during the closing of the year from US$ 985 during the year opening, an incline of 10.44 %. Hence, fluctuating prices of precious metals are most likely to confine the market growth.
Precious Metal Refining Industry Outlook
Technology launches, acquisitions, and R&D activities are key strategies adopted by players in this market. Precious Metal Refining top 10 companies include:
Sims Recycling Solutions
Abington Reldan Metals
In June 2020, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development of Nigeria, launched the commencement of the Dukia Gold & Precious Metals Raw Materials Buying Programme of Nigeria’s first gold and precious metals refining company, Dukia Gold and Precious Metals Refining Company Limited.
Silver segment in Precious Metal Refining Market is expected to see the fastest growth, especially during the forecast period. Its wide range of characteristics and high demand for industrial applications made it stand out in comparison to other types of precious metals in the market.
Electronic application in Precious Metal Refining Market is expected to see the fastest growth, especially during the forecast period, owing to the increasing demand for precious metals refining for electronic applications such as batteries, printed circuits boards, semiconductors, and other similar applications.
Asia-Pacific dominated the Precious Metal Refining Market in 2021, owing to the increasing demand for precious metals refining from electronic and automotive sectors of the region.
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