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  • AkzoNobel finalises €153m paper chemicals sale to Kemira

    Tuesday, 05 May 2015

    The global chemicals company has completed the divestment of its paper chemicals division, enabling it to focus on other products to the paper industry. Q1 revenue for AkzoNobel’s pulp and performance chemicals business, which paper chemicals falls under, increased 6%, driven by positive currency effects and filler and colloidal silica products for the pulp sector.

  • Glass Lewis backs Trian’s Peltz in another blow to DuPont

    Friday, 01 May 2015

    As the battle over votes continues between Trian and DuPont, advisory firm Glass Lewis has recommended shareholders vote in CEO Nelson Peltz to DuPont’s board, hot on the heels of a similar ISS recommendation earlier this week. As the May deadline for voting approaches, DuPont may have to concede that a board shake-up might be in its best interests.

  • Huntsman Q1 profits down as European TiO2 market fails to pick up

    Thursday, 30 April 2015

    Titanium dioxide producer Huntsman saw its revenue and income fall year-on-year as it continues to integrate its recently purchased pigments business from Rockwood in a challenging market where European demand and global TiO2 prices remain low. However, Huntsman is confident of future growth as it continues with its aggressive cost cutting measures, including huge reductions in its newly acquired segment.

  • Iluka lowers bid for Kenmare TiO2 feedstock assets

    Thursday, 30 April 2015

    Iluka’s original bid, made last year, was rejected by Kenmare on the basis that it undervalued the company’s Moma mine in Mozambique. The latest revised offer is substantially lower, however, Kenmare – which has suffered from low demand, debt and operational issues – looks set to work with the mineral sands giant to meet its takeover preconditions.

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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.