The Industrial zircon ceramics are extensively used as linings to protect furnaces and kilns for smelting of metals because they can retain their physical and chemical composition even when subjected to high temperatures. Zircon application is mainly confined to mould faces and cores, which directly come in contact with molten metal.
It is predominantly used as a glaze material and as an opacifier to provide brightness for crockery, sanitary ware, ceramic tiles, other decorative ceramic products and is also widely used in wiping and cleaning television and computer screens.
Zircon sand is a key raw material used in the production of opacifiers, glazes and frits, floor and decorative tiles, glass and steel refractories, metal castings and specialised glass. Consumption of zircon products in the manufacture of faceplates for TV monitors and computer screens continues to increase, particularly in developing countries. The increased use of zirconium chemicals and zirconia in various applications continues with China being in the forefront of new production facilities to service these industries. Recently announced construction of additional nuclear power stations in China and South Korea will create continued demand for zirconium metal in this very specialised market.
The major driving force in zircon demand is obvious in Europe and Asia where various consuming industries have expanded across the board, increasing the usage to the extent that global demand exceeds global production capacity.