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TiO2/Zircon

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Pricing News

  • Iluka revenue declines, insists market improving

    Friday, 24 February 2017

    Despite a weaker financial performance in 2016, the mineral sands producer focused on the future, with hopes that 2017 might mark an upswing in its markets.

  • Huntsman announces global TiO2 price hike

    Friday, 10 February 2017

    Huntsman announcement follows Chemours' push for higher TiO2 prices, expected to be rolled out in US markets from March. Meanwhile lower output in Europe is likely to also drive prices up.

  • Price briefing 30 December - 5 January

    Friday, 06 January 2017

    Graphite market weighs up scrapping of export taxes; China rare earth prices stable for January; alumina and bauxite supply reportedly tight in China; Chinese DBM, CCM export value drops; Chinese TiO2 producers hike prices again.

  • Prices

    Thursday, 15 December 2016

    Antimony trioxide prices drop, as do iodine prices; lithium deals for 2017 approach closure; foundry chromite spot market widens; raw material costs lift WFA prices; graphite suppliers talk 2017 contracts; Cristal to increase TiO2 prices; industry concerned over China scrapping magnesia quota.

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Features

  • TiO2 feedstocks turn a corner

    Wednesday, 22 February 2017

    A rebound in titanium dioxide prices and demand has paved the way for positive momentum in the mineral sands sector. Kasia Patel, North American Editor, and Cameron Perks, IM Correspondent, look at current industry trends and planned new projects in the sector.

  • 2016 Year in Review

    Thursday, 15 December 2016

    A round up of the year's main events in major global industrial minerals markets such as lithium, agriminerals, rare earths and titanium dioxide.

  • Nerves of titanium

    Thursday, 27 October 2016

    Although positive demand is beginning to feed through to titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigments and its feedstocks, the supply landscape for the pigment will continue to shift as producers attempt to remain competitive and Chinese supply faces more stringent regulation.

  • 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.

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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.