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General Profile Information - Markets Served: Metal Casting - Magnesium

The aluminum industry remained the largest consumer of magnesium, accounting for 48% of domestic primary metal use. Magnesium is a constituent in aluminum-base alloys that are used for packaging, transportation, and other applications.

About 69% of the magnesium oxide compounds consumed in the United States were used for refractories. The remaining 31% was used in agriculture, chemical, construction, environmental, and industrial applications.

Magnesium's principal use is as an alloying addition to aluminum, and these aluminum-magnesium alloys are used in products such as beverage cans, automobiles, aircraft, and machinery. For example, the 5000 and 7000 series of aluminum contain up to 5.5% and 3.5 % magnesium, respectively. Magnesium alloys also are used as structural components of automobiles and machinery. In recent years, magnesium has become an important material de-sulfurization of molten iron and steel.

Significant growth is projected in the automotive markets. Examples include:

  • General Motors Corp. (GM) is considering using magnesium alloys for floor-mounted shift towers and console covers in its light- and medium-duty pickup trucks, vans, and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs). The company had began using an AZ91 magnesium alloy shift tower in its Saturn Vue SUV.
  • GM also is using a magnesium alloy instrument panel support beam for its new Cadillac SRX crossover vehicle.
  • Ford Motor Co. announced that it would use single-piece magnesium alloy die-casting front-end supports in its re-designed F-150 pickup trucks beginning in the 2004 model year.
  • Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. announced that it developed a magnesium alloy wire with the flexibility, strength, and light weight demanded by applications such as electronic devices, leisure and sporting goods, and automotive parts. Sumitomo Electric also expects that the alloy could be used as a substitute for resins and aluminum alloys.