|Hong Kong hosted the latest edition of
the TZMI conference. (Source:
The market for titanium dioxide (TiO2) is looking at a major
chloride slag shortfall if production is not ramped up in the
next few years, attendees at the annual TZMI conference in Hong
Kong told Industrial Minerals.
The mood was upbeat at the conference, held on November
13-15, with TiO2 producers noting the increase in pigment
prices compared with last year, and with many mineral sand
producers confident that the market strength would continue to
come through into feedstock demand.
But a particular bottleneck was seen in the production of
titanium slag, the high-purity feedstock which is likely to be
increasingly favored for chloride-route TiO2 production.
Chloride-route TiO2 production is considered to be less
polluting, and the result has traditionally been viewed as a
A number of attendees and speakers at the conference
downplayed the importance of TiO2 quality for end-consumers in
the current market, which is marked by shortages and a scramble
for short-term supply.
But the Chinese government remains committed to
chloride-route production, with an effective ban on new
sulfate-route capacity in the years ahead.
And as a number of attendees pointed out to Industrial
Minerals, this means that titanium slag production will have to
"There is plenty of mineral sands around," one senior
employee at a TiO2 producer told Industrial Minerals. "But
high-grade ilmenite… and rutile - not so much."
This shortfall in natural chloride route feedstocks is
likely to drive sharply higher demand for chloride slag.
And as one slag producer pointed out, world output remains
mostly in the hands of a few companies, including Rio Tinto,
Tronox and TiZer. A titanium slag production facility in Jizan,
Saudi Arabia, operated by Cristal, is set to be acquired by
Tronox in a current takeover process.
Rio Tinto produced about 1.05 million tonnes of slag in
2016. In the same year, Tronox reported nameplate capacity of
410,00 tonnes per year of slag production, while TiZer saw
capacity at 230,000 tpy.
Chloride slag normally consists of around 90-95% TiO2,
meaning that even the 500,000 tpy of greenfield chloride-route
TiO2 planned by Chinese producer Lomon Billions alone would put
huge pressure on slag supplies.
Bruce Griffin, senior vice president of strategic
development at Lomon Billions, which is China’s
largest TiO2 producer, told the conference that sourcing
feedstock for the company’s new chloride capacity
would be a priority in the years to come.