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TiO2/Zircon

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Pricing News

  • Ilmenite price range widens downward in China, defying expectations

    Thursday, 20 September 2018

    Ilmenite prices in China softened again this week due to ample supply and weaker-than-expected demand, defying expectations from some market participants that they would not.

  • Price briefing: August 31-September 6

    Friday, 07 September 2018

    Falling yuan, rupee trigger iodine sell-off in Asia; Flake graphite market in Europe stable, local availability reducing; Battery-grade lithium carbonate prices dip on ample supply and lack of buyer interest; Non-met chromite prices unfazed by weaker rand; European titanium dioxide buyers well stocked after China export drive

  • Base Resources reports rising mineral sand prices

    Tuesday, 28 August 2018

    Prices for ilmenite, rutile and zircon all strongly increased over the year to June 30, the miner reports, boosting profits 114%.

  • Price Briefing: August 17-23

    Friday, 24 August 2018

    Currency depreciation not yet reflecting on iodine prices; sluggish sales weigh on China’s magnesia export prices; PRICING NOTICE: Proposal to launch frac sand price; China flake graphite prices dip on slow buying, weakening yuan; Chinese carbonate price range widens on lower concluded deals; Imported ilmenite price continues to fall in China; PRICING NOTICE: Discontinuation of seven fluorspar prices

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Features

  • Out of the melting pot: A year of change in refractories

    Thursday, 06 September 2018

    After a year of reorganization and changing narratives in the refractories industry – from significant M&A activity to raw material price spikes, and from booming end-market demand to uncertainties in global trade – Industrial Minerals correspondent Myles McCormick takes stock of a changed landscape for companies operating in the sector.

  • A growth trajectory: ceramics markets look to Asia

    Wednesday, 28 March 2018

    The ceramics industry registered a dip in trade and production following the global economic downturn in 2008. But, as Industrial Minerals correspondent Sunder Singh finds, trade in Asia is now picking up, which is putting renewed pressure on kaolin, zircon, bentonite and other ceramics markets.

  • Separation anxiety: Ceramic membranes seek commercial niche

    Friday, 26 January 2018

    While porous ceramic membranes for nanofiltration of liquids have been widely adopted, take-up of dense ceramic membranes for gas separation has been relatively slow to follow. IM Correspondent Rose Pengelly looks into this lesser known corner of the technical ceramics industry and discovers some of its most promising applications.

  • The sands of time: TiO2 feedstocks to 2020

    Friday, 26 January 2018

    The balance in the market for titanium dioxide (TiO2) feedstock has been in constant flux throughout history, and 2017 was no exception. Industrial Minerals Correspondent Cameron Perks takes a look at supply, demand, and prices throughout 2017, as well as what we should look out for as we approach 2020.

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Market Brief

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a white pigment that is a key ingredient of paints, coatings, paper and plastics. For white products, TiO2 is the material of choice as it is the brightest and whitest commercially available pigment.

TiO2 is manufactured from the minerals ilmenite, rutile and, in smaller quantities, leucoxene, which are primarily sourced from mineral sand deposits, but also can be processed from hard rock deposits.

There are two commercially active ways of manufacturing TiO2: the sulphate and chloride routes. Sulphate tends to utilise the lower grade mineral ilmenite, while chloride processing favours higher quality feedstocks such as rutile.

Zircon is an entirely separate mineral and contains no TiO2. It is however commonly tied up with titanium mineral deposits so most producers also sell quantities of zircon. For few it is the primary focus, but for many miners it is a high-value, by-product bonus.

Supply

TiO2 pigment is a mature industry which has been developed by the chemicals industry. While North America and Europe host the majority of plants, new plants under construction in China are starting to readdress this imbalance.

Leading producers include: DuPont, Cristal Global, Huntsman Corp., Kronos Worldwide and Tronox.

In terms of feedstock mineral production, Australia and South Africa are leading producers. Since 2008/09, new African sources have come online in Mozambique and Madagascar.

In terms of tonnages, ilmenite is by far the largest mined TiO2 mineral. On average it has between 52-54% TiO2 content and is purchased, in the main, by those that manufacturer sulphate TiO2.

Rutile has almost double the TiO2 content at 92-95% TiO2 but is less abundant than ilmenite. The biggest commercially active sources are in Australia and Sierra Leone.

Leading producers of TiO2 minerals include: Iluka Resources (Australia), Exxaro Resources (South Africa), Rio Tinto (Australia), Kenmare Resources (Ireland/Mozambique), Bemax Resources (Australia), Consolidated Rutile (Australia) and Titanium Resources Group (UK/Sierra Leone).

Zircon is commonly tied up with titanium mineral sand deposits but has very different market applications. It is almost double the US dollar value of rutile.

Most of producers of titanium minerals from sand have zircon by-production but the focus on this high-value production is increasing in line with demand driven by China.

Chloride route: 55%

Sulphate route: 45%

Global capacity (tonnes): 5.6m. tpa

Markets 

The largest market is TiO2’s direct use as a white pigment in industrial and household paints and coatings for products such as cars. Significant quantities are also used in plastics and paper where its whiteness is still a primary reason for its use.  

The majority of zircon production finds its way into ceramics, although refractories and foundry sands are also important end uses. In ceramics, China is the biggest influencing factor importing around a third of world supply as it has few zircon sources of its own.