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TiO2/Zircon

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Pricing News

  • Price Briefing: Lithium contract price stable, but spot market is tight

    Friday, 08 April 2016

    While Chinese refractories companies are licking their wounds after a bearish and bloody 2015, battery producers are reveling in increased profit margins as demand ticks up. TiO2 markets look set to recover also - but will this be passed onto mineral sands producers?

  • Tronox announces second price increase in 2016

    Friday, 01 April 2016

    The North American producer has announced its second price hike in four months as prices in TiO2 remain under pressure. While other industry majors also adjusted prices in December and January, the increases are a long way off from recovering the losses seen in TiO2 over the last few years, and are necessary to keep producers operating sustainably.

  • Price briefing 24 - 31 March

    Friday, 01 April 2016

    Prices for fluorspar, mineral sands and lithium

  • Chinese New Year keeps lid on mineral markets in February

    Wednesday, 24 February 2016

    Antimony fluctuates, rare earths stay flat; lithium prices exaggerated, says Albemarle; graphite stagnates, chromite prices dip.

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Features

  • Talk From The Top: What those at the helm make of the last two years in industrial minerals markets

    Saturday, 21 May 2016

    While the majority of industrial mineral market participants are bracing themselves for another tough year, IM spoke to key industry players about adapting to current conditions and seeking out new markets.

  • Supply Security Report: Mineral Sands

    Saturday, 21 May 2016

    Mineral sands industry sentiment has been a mixed bag throughout 2015 and into 2016. Cameron Perks, IM Correspondent, takes a look at the ups and downs of 2015 and asks whether mineral sands markets will register any improvements in 2016.

  • India's mining industry: Challenges and potential

    Saturday, 21 May 2016

    The Indian mining industry is best described as a success story still in the making. Despite holding reserves of 89 different minerals, Shruti Salwan, IM Analyst, examines why growth in the domestic mining industry has been relatively stagnant, failing to reap the benefits of an emerging middle class.

  • Titanium dioxide: Year in Review 2015

    Monday, 21 December 2015

    A roundup of the year's main events in the global TiO2 industry.

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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.