A Taylor, Jr
INDIUM ADVOCATE NEWS
Issue No. 27 Detailed Outlook June 2007
This outlook is based on structured, in-depth conversations with well-placed industry observers, some preliminary statistics, a few press releases and related trade press items, and the professional judgment of the Publisher/Editor, Harold A. Taylor, Jr.
General Outlook for 2007: The general outlook for demand as sales for indium will be strong but not as strong as in some previous years, and dimension stone will be similarly strong. The outlook for graphite is mildly encouraging.
Outlook for ITO Thin-film Coatings: The major end-use, ITO (indium tin oxide) is applied by sputtering as a thin electrically-conducting transparent coating on glass, making a transparent electrode that controls the pixels lighting, in glass that is used as flat-panel television or laptop computer screens, or as LCDs for watches. The ITO worldwide demand in 2006 as sales was up 40% by volume over those of 2005, but the North American-European 2006 ITO demand was up 2%-4% from 2005. The worldwide ITO demand in 2007 as sales is likely to be up 15%-20% by volume from 2006, much lower in North America and Europe but much higher in the Far East. Sales of flat panel TV screens are still strong worldwide in 2007 in spite of the high price of indium; this makes sense because the small amount of ITO in each TV has a minimal impact on the TV price.
Outlook for indium alloys and solders: Indium is used in low-melting-point and specialized solders (the larger subgroup) and low-temperature fusible alloys (fuses, sprinkler heads). An indium solder will wet ceramics and glass and can be used to solder such items, and is used to solder gold items because the gold will not be leached out by the solder. Worldwide 2006 demand for indium solders and alloys resulted in sales up 4% by volume compared with 2005. Demand in 2007 will probably be up worldwide 4%, reflecting some shift to cheaper substitutes for indium.
Outlook for semiconductors, LEDs, lasers: LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are optoelectronic devices made up of III-V semiconductors in their substrate and epitaxial layer, used in low-brightness display emitters (car interiors) and high-brightness emitters (car stop lights and turn signals), and in communications emitters (transmits data in fiberoptic cables). Demand in this small erratic end-use in 2006 was up 5% from 2005; 2007 should be up 15% from 2006.
Statistical Parameters: The U.S.-Japan Indium Usage Index was 100 in 1999, 118 in 2000, 148 in 2001, 150 in 2002, 229 in 2003, 334 in 2004 (final), and 328 in 2005 (advanced).
The NY Dealers' price for indium ended the price spike (details in IAN Issue 17) at $550-$600 per kg in March 2004. After the spike, the price rose to $775-$825 per kg by late September, and $820-$890 per kg in midOctober 2004. Next the price backed and filled over a range of $780 per kg in late December 2004 to $1060 per kg in late September 2005; it was $950-$980 per kg in midApril 2006. The price then continued to erode to $800-850 per kg in early June, to $700-750 in late August, and bottomed at $650-700 in late October 2006. Prices bounced back a little to end at $680-730 per kg in early March 2007. The Chinese Government may put an export cap of 150 tonnes annually on indium. The Chinese Government put a 15% export tax on indium as of January 1, 2007 with minimal effect on the price. Contributing to the minimizing of this effect may be additional Japanese indium recycling.