various forms including ingots, foil, powder, ribbon, shot, and wire (Schwarz-Schampera and
A non-exhaustive list of potential buyers of indium sponge and end users follows:
Indium Corp. of America (New York, United States)
Umicore Group (Belgium)
MCP Metal Specialties Inc. (Connecticut, United States)
ESPI Corporation (Oregon, United States)
AIM Specialty Materials Division (Rhode Island, United States) (Thibault et al. 2010).
800 tpa over the last few years. The USGS stated that indium production was ~770 and ~782
tonnes in 2013 and 2012, respectively. In 2011, the USGS stated that indium production was
~622 tonnes. We estimate 822 tonnes. By comparison, the company 5NPlus stated that current
global production of refined indium was ~800 tonnes (5NPlus 2011). The European
Commission, which bases its estimates largely on those of the USGS, stated that global
production of refined indium at ~600 tonnes in 2011 (Moss et al. 2011).
Figure 5 shows that China is the largest producer of refined indium with 50%–55% of global
production, an outcome that is consistent with its share of global zinc production (see Appendix
A). The remaining 45%–50% of primary indium production is distributed among countries such
as Belgium (30–50 tpa, 4%–6%), Canada (41–67 tpa, 8%–11%), Japan (55–110 tpa, 9%–11%),
and South Korea (70–165 tpa, 11%–21%).
Estimates are for primary production only. Product quality of indium is high enough to be used in some form of commercial
USGS (Tolcin 2008a to 2010a) or Roskill (2010). Average of both where two figures are available. “Other” production used as
USGS estimates (Tolcin 2011a and 2012a).
Company reports, own estimates, Roskill 2010 and Tolcin 2008a to 2012a.
e USGS estimates (Tolcin 2014a).
(Created with data from
Figure 6. Tonnes of primary indium refinery production by country (2009 to 2013)
(Created with data from Table 5)
The risk to non-Chinese users associated with China’s dominant position in the production of
the China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) has required that an export license be issued to
export indium metal with a purity of 99.995% or higher (Roskill 2010; MOFCOM 2012). Figure
7 shows that allowable indium exports have remained constant at ~230 tpa from 2008 to 2013
while production has grown, thereby allowing Chinese indium producers to export a lower share
of refined indium to global markets. Exports were most restricted in 2009 when indium
production was curtailed because of depressed indium and zinc prices associated with the 2008–
2009 global recession.