More than 85 per cent of all chromium produced is destined for the production of stainless steels and the closely related heat-resistant steels. Chromium, together with other metals such as copper, nickel, titanium and vanadium, is added to iron to produce steels with greatly increased strength and rust- and corrosion-resistance. Ferrochrome is an essential ingredient of stainless steel. The chemical industry absorbs about 25 per cent of chromium production, Chromium chemicals have a great variety of uses.
Widely used as pigments, they also feature as tanning salts, oxidising agents and catalysts. Other applications include the chromium plating of metal surfaces, photography and pyrotechnics. Another main use for chromium and its compounds is in refractories, which account for 14 per cent of production. Because of their high melting point, stability and chemical neutrality, chromite sands and refractory bricks containing chromite are used for casting moulds and furnace linings.