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TiO2/Zircon

Latest News

  • AkzoNobel subject of €53m fraud

    Tuesday, 18 November 2014

    The company said today that the fraud seems to be a one off incident, unrelated to any of its business activities. As immediate action has been taken and law enforcement authorities have been contacted, AkzoNobel hopes the financial effects on the business will be limited.

  • IFGL and Orient Refractories posted solid growth in India

    Tuesday, 18 November 2014

    The positive results recorded by two of the major Indian refractory producers show a robust demand for refractory products in the country, despite a continuing slow growth in the steel industry, which has not yet reached full capacity.

  • DuPont TiO2 Mexico expansion on track for 2016 production

    Tuesday, 18 November 2014

    The expansion – which was previously delayed owing to poor market conditions – under DuPont Titanium Technologies will increase the company’s TiO2 pigment capacity by 200,000 tpa by 2016, by which time demand is forecast to increase.

  • DuPont investigates gas leak with authorities at Texas facility after four fatalities confirmed

    Tuesday, 18 November 2014

    The company’s La Porte site, which services several DuPont businesses worldwide, has been closed for investigation following a gas leak over the weekend, which killed four employees. DuPont is working with local and federal authorities, including the CSB, to investigate the cause of the accident, which may take up to a year.

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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.