TiO2/Zircon

Latest News

  • Imerys sees profits rise as new production comes on stream

    Wednesday, 30 July 2014

    Imerys’ H1 results show that while the market is still hard, there is a bright light ahead as the company’s production starts to ramp up. Interestingly, the results also underline the profitability of the company’s energy business, which includes the US proppant PyraMax plant acquisition.

  • South African government pressures mining firms to use local suppliers

    Wednesday, 30 July 2014

    The attempt of the South African government to push mining industries to buy technology and services from local suppliers shows the intention of the country to take more profits from foreign companies, which, in turn, criticise the government’s weak leadership in addressing social tensions.

  • Huntsman sees improved revenues as demand for key products increases

    Wednesday, 30 July 2014

    The TiO2 producer reported higher selling prices and demand in key products. Though prices in its pigment division were down, volumes increased enough to offset the difference, resulting in higher revenues.

  • Goldman goes soft on potash and firms up on zircon prices

    Wednesday, 30 July 2014

    The US investment bank’s latest research report on fertiliser and mineral sands markets goes against the expectations of many in the industry, by predicting a weakening in prices for potash but gains for TiO2 and zircon. Goldman cites sound economic reasoning behind its forecasts, however, throwing the futures of these markets open to debate.

More from Latest News

Pricing News

  • Goldman goes soft on potash and firms up on zircon prices

    Wednesday, 30 July 2014

    The US investment bank’s latest research report on fertiliser and mineral sands markets goes against the expectations of many in the industry, by predicting a weakening in prices for potash but gains for TiO2 and zircon. Goldman cites sound economic reasoning behind its forecasts, however, throwing the futures of these markets open to debate.

  • Summer holiday for agriminerals, no break for mineral sands

    Tuesday, 29 July 2014

    Agrimineral demand recovery continues as flame retardant chemical price growth stutters; no gains in sight for mineral sands

  • Price Briefing 18 – 24 July

    Thursday, 24 July 2014

    Barite prices shift while TiO2 consumers offer little hope of improvement

  • Price Briefing 4 – 10 July

    Thursday, 10 July 2014

    Antimony and fertiliser mineral prices stable as weakness dogs DBM and zircon

More from Pricing News

Features

More from Features

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.