In one of our recent blogs, we discussed concerns related to pricing of neodymium, a critical material used in the production of neodymium iron boron magnets. In this blog, we will discuss concerns related to strontium ferrite magnet material.
Strontium ferrite (SrFe12O19) magnetic material is the most widely used magnetic material, and can be found in applications including electronics, telecommunications, electric motors, and switches. Strontium hexaferrite is a hard magnetic material with a high coercivity as a result of its magnetocrystalline anisotropy. Additionally, strontium hexaferrite has an excellent resistance to corrosion and demagnetization, and is capable of operating at temperatures up to 300°C. The combination of these features makes strontium ferrite ideal for a broad range of applications.
Strontium Ferrite Magnet Pricing
Traditionally, strontium ferrite has been a low-cost magnet material. Recently, however, strontium ferrite’s normally stable price has been subject to pressure following a series of raw material price increases.
Dating back to the beginning of 2021, the price of strontium carbonate has increased by nearly 270%. Strontium is derived from celestite, and 50% (data relates to 2015) of the global supply originates in China. There have recently been production issues that have restricted the mining of the ore, which has in turn resulted in a global shortage. In other countries where strontium is produced, including Spain (25%) and Mexico (20%), similar production issues have been present as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Iron oxide prices, meanwhile, are normally very stable. However, since early June 2021, there has been a 13% price increase. At the moment, prices appear to have stabilized again, although the outlook remains uncertain. Magnet material is sourced from iron scale peeling off steel during the manufacturing process, and the iron scale is then reprocessed to match the correct specifications for ferrite magnets. Because China is the largest global source of ferrite oxide and ferrite magnets (60% of global production), changes in policy such as reduced steel manufacturing have a disproportionate impact on the availability and thus the price of the ferrite oxide. In addition, the price of iron ore has dramatically increased, making it more economical to recycle scale in the steel making process.
Currently, the pricing outlook is still uncertain, although the trend suggests that pricing has peaked. However, there is no sign of prices falling back to those observed earlier in 2021.
Magnet and Magnetic Assembly Design
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