Bismuth is a heavy metal with remarkably low toxicity, making it an ideal replacement for other toxic heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and antimony. Although bismuth has been known and used since ancient times, it was often confused with lead, tin, antimony, and zinc due to similar physical properties. In the Middle Ages, bismuth was recognized as an independent metal, and since then the uses of bismuth and its compounds have increased manifold. Bismuth has the highest electrical resistance of all metal elements, high specific gravity, low melting temperature, and low thermal-conductivity.
The global bismuth market supply is dominated by China which holds approximately 65 percent of the bismuth reserves, producing around 75 percent of the total bismuth used at a global level. Environmental regulations and safety concerns in recent years have reduced the bismuth production in China. Bismuth is found in the Earth’s crust twice as abundantly as gold, but in specific regions only, due to which countries with natural bismuth reserves have an edge in the market. The bismuth market is expected to have higher growth rates in the APAC region due to higher investments in bismuth manufacturing activities in China and India.
What You Need To Know When Starting A Business In The Bismuth Market
The bismuth market is growing at a steady pace, driven especially by the increased demand for bismuth as a replacement for lead and other heavy metals that risk toxicity. Setting up a business in the bismuth market accordingly has great potential, but to launch a successful business it’s important to conduct an in-depth market analysis. Examine and research on market competition, potential clients, applications, target industry, production methods, and market trends to form a comprehensive business plan.
The first step to launching a successful business in the bismuth market is to identify which application the business will cater to, as this would decide the possible clients, the product to be made and production methods. Bismuth has a great variety of applications including in pigments, paints, coatings, cosmetics, and casting for printing type, however, the single two largest applications are in medicine and as a lead replacement.
- Medicine: Bismuth has traditionally been used to treat gastric issues,
burns, and sexually transmitted diseases. One of the most popular medicines
containing bismuth is the antacid Pepto-Bismol. Bismuth and its compounds can
be used to treat diarrhea, gastro-intestinal diseases, cadmium poisoning,
heartburns, peptic ulcers, nausea, and eye infections.
- Lead Replacement: Lead is found naturally in the environment and in the past was also used extensively in objects such as paint, pipes, toys, and even medicines. Since then it has been discovered that lead exposure accumulates in the body leading to lead poisoning, which can be deadly. As a result, there has been a conscious effort, enforced by governments across the world, to turn to lead alternatives, such as bismuth. Lead and bismuth have similar densities, due to which bismuth is a popular alternative for lead and is used in ammunition, ballistics, painting, coating, and as an additive in the manufacture of alloys.
The non-toxic nature of bismuth and its other useful properties, combined with the ample supply are likely to result in the development of more bismuth applications in the future, beyond the current uses.
The production process used in manufacturing the bismuth will influence the extent of investment required and the equipment and personnel that will be needed. Bismuth has traditionally been produced as a by-product of the lead manufacturing process. However, as the production of lead is reducing and expected to reduce further, upcoming businesses would most likely need to manufacture bismuth independently to remain viable in the future. Production can take place from any stage of the bismuth manufacturing timeline, whether it involves extracting bismuth from existing ores or simply refining bismuth into the finished product. The refining process of bismuth production would depend on the application and the respective needs of the client/industry.
China may have the single largest natural reserves of bismuth, but the demand for bismuth and its compounds is growing across the world, due to which there will be a need for suppliers in all regions. When starting a business, it is important to examine the local market and identify where there may be possible gaps in supply that can be exploited by a new business. Other than the local market also research the closest suppliers for the new business, so that the production costs can be kept at a regional level.
The bismuth market is growing at a steady pace and is expected to maintain the growth in the coming years, making it a suitable field to start a business in. The low toxicity of bismuth, its use in replacing lead, wide applications and sufficient supply are factors that are driving the growth of the market. When starting a business in the bismuth market it’s important to conduct a thorough market analysis, competitor analysis and form a detailed business plan.