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TiO2/Zircon

Latest News

  • PPG’s China TiO2 plant to begin production in 2015

    Friday, 24 October 2014

    The completion of the JV plant with Hennan Billions was celebrated this week, and the company expects output of 100,000 tpa TiO2 to begin next year. PPG, which recently said at the TiO2 World Summit that new product innovation will drive the industry forward, has also built a technology centre to test next-generation, chloride-based TiO2.

  • Price Briefing 17 – 23 October

    Thursday, 23 October 2014

    Antimony and TiO2 minerals stagger under overcapacity; rare earths remain steady

  • AkzoNobel income increases owing to efficiency programme

    Tuesday, 21 October 2014

    Though other companies have been reporting an increase in paints and coatings demand, AkzoNobel attributes its positive results to cost cutting and restructuring in the business. It added that market conditions remain challenging – a view that will be disappointing for raw materials producers to the industry such as rutile, ilmenite and TiO2, which have been waiting for conditions to rebound.

  • China's refractory consolidation: a year on

    Monday, 20 October 2014

    A year after Chinese authorities took the decision to clean up the refractory industry in China, IM takes a look at progress made so far and the impact of the shut downs on the industry as a whole.

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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.