Zircon, TiO2, fused
Market prices for zircon are expected to increase on bullish
market fundamentals, market sources told IM,
emphasising that there may be no end in sight.
Supply has tightened primarily
because demand from China has increased. Also, China has
clamped down on poor practise in zircon processing plants,
which has tightened the market further.
Instances of smuggling are still
widespread, according to market sources. One trader said that
the trade ban between Vietnam and China has been largely
Tighter supply could be one of the
reasons Cristal Global is increasing prices on all of its
rutile and titanium dioxide (TiO2) products sold in
Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Asia
Pacific sub regions.
The price increases, which will
come into effect on 1 July, affect all of the companys
anatase and rutile Tiona products as well as all
TiO2 products, Cristal emphasised.
Producers of fused zirconia have
raised prices for the third consecutive quarter this year in
direct response to the soaring increase of zircon sand.
A fused zirconia producer told
IM: We have had to raise our prices
simply to recover the cost of zircon sand. The market is
becoming very weary of these quarter to quarter increases but
we have no choice.
Everyone thought that zircon
prices would level off at $2,000/tonne but they just keep on
climbing. Now people are saying that prices may rise to as high
as $3,000/tonne by the end of the year. Its crazy; not
even oil prices have increased at the same rate, said the
Th worlds largest mineral
sands miner, Iluka Resources, plans to raise rutile and zircon
prices to record levels in the second half of 2011, far
surpassing the expectations of several industry analysts.
Iluka said the average first half
prices for the titanium dioxide (TiO2) feedstock
rutile is about $770/tonne (FOB Australia), meaning H2 prices
could reach record levels of $1,309-1,348/tonne.
Synthetic rutile (SR) will be
increased by the same percentage, raising prices to
$1,088-1,120/tonne from a first-half average of $640/tonne.
Iluka said third quarter
discussions with zircon customers were progressing
satisfactorily, with price hikes of 35-40% expected to be
achieved for the three months starting 1 July.
The increases would bring the
average price of zircon to $2,160-2,240/tonne from a second
quarter average of $1,600/tonne.
Chromite prices remain stable but sources anticipate that the
market may firm in the second half of the year.
We expect prices to remain
firm in these categories and possibly increase somewhat in the
latter half [of the year] as continuing cost increases in South
Africa and weakness in the US dollar push producers to increase
prices in all non-metallurgical grade material, a
producer told IM.
In addition, the possibility
of weakening demand in metallurgical grade production may
tighten supply for non-metallurgical by-product, he
Elsewhere, another source said that
the market would likely see increases at the start of
Graphite prices within China are expected to increase further,
warn market participants, with one source putting the price of
amorphous powder up by between 15-20%.
Amorphous graphite, which is the
lowest value graphite and used in foundry, has traditionally
been regarded as the most abundant of the natural graphite
group. But supply is expected to tighten this year, the market
Also contributing to the price rise
is the fact that China has raised the minimum price for
exporting graphite from certain ports.
European soda ash prices have been assessed higher ahead of the
changeover to the third quarter.
The new price rise takes the price
of soda ash from a price range of 170-200/tonne
(synthetic, dense and light, small parcels, list price,
ex-works) in Europe, to 195-235/tonne.
This is an increase of 17.5% from
the level for the last two years.
Large contracts of soda ash
(synthetic, dense and light, ex-works) have increased to
Û165-Û185/tonne, from Û150-170/tonne -
an increase of 9%.
The price of potash exported from North America has risen
significantly in recent months driven by robust agricultural
markets and strong demand.
Market sources disagreed on exact
figures, citing prices for potash (FOB Vancouver) between
$460/tonne and $550/tonne, although opinion was unanimous that
there have been significant increases.
Potash prices have increased
incredibly recently. Prices for potash, FOB Vancouver, are as
high as $550/tonne. The cost on top of that to get it to Brazil
will be another $100. Blenders in Brazil then are looking at
$650/tonne of potash, one market analyst told
The source said that a sustained high level of demand and
the appreciation in prices for agricultural products were
driving the increases.
Zirconia, fused, monoclinic, refractory/abrasive grade,
CIF main European port, $/tonne
Solid lines = top of range; broken lines = bottom of
Zircon, premium grade, bulk, FOB Australia,
Solid lines = top of range; broken lines = bottom of range