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TiO2/Zircon

Latest News

  • Price Briefing 27 February – 5 March

    Thursday, 05 March 2015

    Antimony gains not expected to last but soda ash prices look positive for 2015.

  • Argex awards 50,000 tpa TiO2 plant to Tecnicas Reunidas

    Thursday, 05 March 2015

    Canadian junior Argex is hoping to make a difference in the TiO2 industry with its new patented production method. The 50,000 tpa TiO2 to be produced is said to be of a high quality at lower costs than chloride route production and more environmentally friendly than traditional pigment production methods.

  • AkzoNobel to provide Navig8 with coating for 18 chemical tankers

    Thursday, 05 March 2015

    The selection of its Interline 9001 coating – which enhances cargo resistance and offers near zero resistance for many cargoes transported – by leading shipowner Navigate is expected to pave the way for marine customers to choose AkzoNobel’s coating technology. This is positive news for the company which saw its 2014 revenue fall 2% in a challenging last year.

  • Huntsman to close three US plants in 2015

    Thursday, 05 March 2015

    The US TiO2 pigment producer is ploughing ahead with the streamlining of its newly acquired pigments business from Rockwood. As part of previously announced plans, Huntsman has announced further site closures and workforce reductions. On the flipside, the company is also investing in R&D to secure future growth.

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Pricing News

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Features

  • 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.

  • 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.

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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.