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TiO2/Zircon

Latest News

  • Kenmare shipments and production increase as US recovery continues

    Friday, 30 January 2015

    Though feedstock shipments into China have been lower than usual, Kenmare’s production has increased as a result of strong demand from the US. The lower oil price should also raise future spending and demand for pigments while plans for chloride route production are China is also likely to boost feedstock sales in the future.

  • Price Briefing 23 – 29 January

    Thursday, 29 January 2015

    Barite prices set to jump on Indian auction process; Goldman maintains morbid outlook for minsands

  • Alkane Resources presses on with Dubbo, looks to develop hafnium product

    Wednesday, 28 January 2015

    Alkane Resources told IM earlier this month that it is gearing up for an important year and while its Dubbo Project is still at the development phase, it is looking at niche markets for its end products and regulation work is continuing apace

  • Mineral Deposits Ltd continues mineral sands ramp up in Senegal

    Wednesday, 28 January 2015

    The continued ramp up of the Grande Cote mineral sands project has been matched by increasing sales. The company does not expect any significant changes to the currently depressed mineral sands market however, and with production increases planned, the company may find its extra capacity to be ill-timed.

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Pricing News

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Features

  • 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.

  • Australia: End of the mining gloom?

    Wednesday, 26 November 2014

    The downturn of the global “commodities supercyle” and slowing raw material demand in China has been felt keenly in Australia’s resources sector. But while proponents of Australian mining admit the industry isn’t quite as mighty as it used to be, they say that there are still plenty of reasons to be positive Down Under, Siobhan Lismore-Scott, Editor and Laura Syrett, Prices Editor, discover.

  • South East Asia: Room to grow

    Wednesday, 26 November 2014

    Although regulatory difficulties in the past may have discouraged foreign investment, South East Asia is being touted as a region ripe for development with many underexploited resources and demand for industrial minerals in a variety of markets including refractories, glass, ceramics, construction and proppants. Andrew Scogings, IM Correspondant, Kasia Patel, Deputy Editor, and Tran Kim Phuong, Contributor

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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.