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Latest News

  • DuPont performance chemicals Q2 earnings more than halve in weak TiO2 market

    Wednesday, 29 July 2015

    Although the chemical giant recently completed the divestment of its TiO2 business, its latest set of Q2 financial results show that there has been little improvement in the coatings industry, with the performance chemicals segment recording a 55% drop in operating earnings. DuPont’s spin off, The Chemours Co. is now expected to optimise costs and products to drive revenue returns as TiO2 prices stay low.

  • Debt-free Alkane presses ahead with product enhancements from its Dubbo zirconia project

    Tuesday, 28 July 2015

    The Australia-based company is making steady progress at its rare earths and zirconia project in New South Wales, which is expected to come online in 2017. The firm has also attracted interest in its products from leading global companies and is in a stable financial position to invest in material development.

  • Base reports “encouraging” mineral sands sales and production

    Tuesday, 28 July 2015

    The Australian miner has been ramping up production of zircon, ilmenite and rutile at its Kenyan Kwale project, resulting in increased sales and lower operational costs. Despite the continuing challenging environment in the TiO2 pigment industry, the company saw some improvements in ilmenite prices, while stability in zircon is expected to continue.

  • Kenmare H1 2015 production hit by power problems

    Monday, 27 July 2015

    The company’s Moma mineral sands operations in Mozambique have been beset by a number of challenges since the start of this year, including 57 days of weather-related power outages and industrial unrest, which have severely impacted its output volumes.

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Pricing News

  • Summer torpor hits industrial minerals early

    Wednesday, 22 July 2015

    Positive barite, bromine, soda ash prices stand out; refractory minerals continue to head south; TiO2 feedstocks face gloomy second half of 2015.

  • TiO2 prices face H2 slides

    Thursday, 16 July 2015

    China leads indications of market weakness and paints morose picture for feedstock minerals.

  • Price Briefing 26 June – 2 July

    Friday, 03 July 2015

    Indian barite producers lose market share; bromine looks up while TiO2 causes confusion.

  • Price Briefing 12 – 18 June

    Friday, 19 June 2015

    Chemical barite prices sidestep weakness in drilling grades; lithium prices set to rise; TiO2 market expected to weaken in H2.

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  • Coatings turn to new products

    Friday, 20 March 2015

    Changes in regulation and customer preference are driving the emergence of exciting new products in the coatings industry, but behind the headlines many producers are concerned about weaknesses in key consuming sectors.

  • Iron oxide: build, or it won’t come

    Friday, 27 February 2015

    Iron oxide pigment demand is benefitting from growth in new markets such as batteries and cosmetics, but the industry’s main demand driver is the construction sector, where consumption has been hurt by weaker economic growth. Kasia Patel, Deputy Editor, takes a look at what construction forecasts might mean for iron oxide and discusses varying preferences for natural and synthetic material.

  • Mineral makeover

    Saturday, 24 January 2015

    Personal care is often a small part of an industrial minerals producer’s portfolio, with other markets accounting for the lion’s share of revenue and expenditure. However, as Siobhan Lismore-Scott, Editor, finds, this is a growing industry with ample opportunity for many minerals companies.

  • TiO2: Year in Review 2014

    Wednesday, 31 December 2014

    Last year was undoubtedly a turbulent one for the titanium dioxide (TiO2) industry. 2014 was characterised by further consolidation among the market’s top players in response to poor market demand, juxtaposed to positivity from new and hopeful feedstock producers, who maintain that additional supply is needed to meet future demand.

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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.


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


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.