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TiO2/Zircon

Latest News

  • Price Briefing 15 – 21 May

    Friday, 22 May 2015

    Magnesia industry gloomy on China; Australian zircon industry optimistic for price rises.

  • Iluka to pursue M&A opportunities in mineral sands market downturn

    Thursday, 21 May 2015

    The TiO2 feedstock producer outlined in its AGM this week that it plans to seek out suitable acquisition targets, should they have financial merit, as the downturn is lowering the value of assets, as was the case with Iluka’s bid for Kenmare. Through additional acquisitions, the company hopes to continue with its flexible production strategy to weather low market demand.

  • Broken Hill confirms high grade mineral sands in Australia

    Thursday, 21 May 2015

    Test work at Broken Hill’s Copi North prospects has established the presence of high quality ilmenite, rutile and zircon at the deposit. The results give the company the opportunity to consider low-cost mine development options in its forthcoming PFS.

  • Base Resources rejects “untrue” royalty and VAT allegations

    Wednesday, 20 May 2015

    The mineral sands miner, which is upping production at its Kwale mine in Kenya, has hit back at media accusations of not paying enough royalties, agreeing to corrupt contracts, and operating in an unfavourable mining jurisdiction which does not require transparency and clear financial reporting, saying that such allegations are unfounded attempts to undermine its project.

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Pricing News

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Features

  • 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.

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.