Declining ilmenite prices are becoming a problem for
producers of the titanium dioxide (TiO2) feedstock
It seems to me that ilmenite
producers at this level will generally lose money,
Michael Carvill, CEO of Irish ilmenite miner Kenmare Resources
Plc, told IM.
Carvill doubts that current
ilmenite prices are feasible in the long run.
We dont believe that
ilmenite prices can sustain themselves at these present levels
- its not enough. I think that they are going to have to
return to higher levels, he added.
Ilmenite prices did rise during the
TiO2 feedstock pricing boom of 2011 and early 2012 -
reaching more than $300/tonne - but, as with the higher-grade
feedstocks, have slipped back down again, reaching as low as
Ilmenite has experienced a
price decline. I think that the price decline is not as extreme
as rutile or synthetic rutile because it hadnt seen that
level of price appreciation that they had, Carvill told
IRC Ltd, a Far East producer of
ilmenite, has recorded prices dropping as low as $263/tonne
during 2012, but picking up slightly to $274/tonne in 2013.
Strong outlook for
There is, however, a strong outlook
for ilmenite because, while rutile and the other higher grade
feedstocks have seen severe supply curtailments, ilmenite
supply has remained relatively secure.
Major producers Kenmare and IRC Ltd
have both continued production at the same level as
Ilmenite is also valuable in the
sense that it is the lowest-grade and cheapest feedstock, and
so there is always a solid demand base.
There is a certain
equivalency of value in the use of ilmenite because of its
nature as a feedstock of titanium slag, and since chloride slag
has remained so robust in terms of pricing, that has given a
certain strength to the ilmenite, Carvill said.
Metspar prices slide on
weak steel demand
Metallurgical grade fluorspar
(metspar) prices fell by an average of 20% through Q2 2013, due
to weak demand from the steel industry.
The lack of demand in the market
created an excess supply of metspar, particularly across
lower-purity grades, which pushed Chinese prices down to as low
as $200/tonne, according to IM Data
Proportionally, the value of
higher-purity grades fell the most during the past quarter. The
price of metspar, min 85% CaF2 CIF China to Holland,
has dropped to a range of $290-$310/tonne (down 17.8%), while
the highest grade of metspar, min 90% CaF2 FOB
China, has been lowered to $250-$275/tonne.
However, these price changes were
not restricted to the Chinese market, with low-purity Mongolian
grades falling to below the $200/tonne mark. The price for
metspar, 75% CaF2 DAP Mongolian-Russian, was moved
down to a range of $180-$190/tonne, after being static at
$200/tonne since H2 2012.
Muted steel growth hampers
Metspar is used in the production
of steel, and world crude steel production has been increasing,
but this is being driven mainly by Asia, with declines in most
The declines across the globe have
hampered the demand for metspar in most major markets, but due
to the slight upturn in Asian steel production, demand for the
feedstock mineral is picking up, which may soon impact
Soda ash prices increased
Soda ash producer FMC Wyoming Corp.
will increase off-list soda ash prices by $15/s.ton for all
grades of soda ash.
The increase will be applied to
both bulk and packaged products and will be implemented 1 July
2013, or as contracts allow.
This increase is necessary to
recover cost increases and to support continued investment in
the business, the US-based company said.
List prices, on the other hand,
will remain unchanged.
FOB Westvaco and FOB Granger,
Wyoming list prices for bulk material will remain at $275/s.ton
for dense grade, $280/s.ton for Grade 100 and $290/s.ton for
FOB Westvaco, Wyoming, prices for
packaged soda ash list prices will remain at $340/s.ton for
dense and $245/s.ton for Grade 100 in 50lb loads.
For 2000lb loads, prices will
remain at $330/s.ton for dense and $335/s.ton for Grade
FMC Wyoming Corps current
energy surcharge and freight policies for soda ash will remain
in effect, the company said, adding that the energy
surcharge base cost will remain $7.00/mmBTU.
Lynas implement minimum
One of the only producers of rare
earths outside of China, Lynas Corp., is implementing a minimum
price schedule for its rare earths products, effective 1 July
The Australian company, which also
operates a processing plant in Malaysia, maintained that the
rare earths market will grow in the long term but only if
prices rise, at its recent press conference in Malaysia.
The aggregate selling price of
typical light rare earths is about $16 to $20/kg, around 25%
below the minimum sustainable level for producers, Bernama, the
national news agency of the government of Malaysia
Should this trend continue,
the industry risks losing production and triggering a similar
supply crisis to that of 2010 - 2011 when prices were driven up
sharply to peak levels above $100/kg, destroying demand in many
market sectors, Lynas reportedly said.
The company said the rare earths
market had the potential to grow between 5-6% annually over the
This growth is expected to come
from key sectors such as permanent magnets, automotive
catalytic converters and fluid cracking catalysts.
However, these long-term growth
rates required long-term pricing visibility to justify
investment by customers and producers, it added.
Lynas CEO Eric Noyrez said the
company believed that only prices which were sustainable for
producers and customers would allow the rare earth market to
grow to its full potential in the long-term.
Imerys hikes prices for US
One of the US divisions of Imerys,
Imerys Filtration Minerals (formerly World Minerals), will be
hiking the prices of all its diatomite, perlite, cellulose, and
silicate products shipped within North America, effective 1
The increase will range from
2-8%, subject to any provisions in individual contracts,
the company said.
The price increase supports
continuing investments and rising costs in manufacturing,
maintenance, quality systems and environmental compliance, it
As well as these increases, the
energy surcharge that the company has been levying to
compensate for logistical costs will remain in effect.
However, as the spot market gas
prices dropped below Imerys base price of $4.4/m BTU
(British Thermal Unit) during May, the company decided not to
implement the surcharge on diatomite, expanded perlite and
silicate products during June.
This fall in gas prices is thanks,
in part, to the increasing production from shale oil and gas
plays generated by unconventional drilling, or hydraulic
For perlite ore, the surcharge is
instead based on the On-Highway Diesel Price Rocky Mountain,
which, for the month of May, was above the companys base
price of $3.30/gallon.
The price was below $3.80/gallon,
so the surcharge for June was $1.23/s.ton.
Imerys Filtrations European
operations are also subject to surcharges but, unlike the US
operations, have not seen the drop in gas prices associated
with a rise in hydraulic fracturing. As such, a number of
surcharges are being implemented in Europe.
For all Celite, a diatomaceous
earth product, products from the companys plant in
Alicante, Spain, the energy surcharges for Q2 2013 will be
11.10/tonne ($14.75/tonne*) for calcined grades and
4.00/tonne for natural grades.
However, Celite products from the
plant in Murat, France had an energy surcharge of
18.70/tonne for June 2013.
For perlite products from the
companys Barcelona plant, the surcharge for June will be
4.30/tonne and 5.50/tonne for Optimat, an alumino
silicate functional additive for the paint and coatings
Perlite products from Corsico,
Italy, and Wissembourg, France, were charged Û4.30/tonne
Cristal is final producer
to hike TiO2 prices
Cristal has become the final
chloride-route titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigment
producer to announce a range of price increases for the third
quarter of this year.
Prices will be increased for all of
the Saudi Arabian companys anatase and rutile products -
including TIONA and other Cristal products - sold across all
global regions, effective 1 July 2013 or as contracts allow,
the company said.
The largest increase will occur in
Latin America, where prices will be raised by $300/tonne.
Like fellow producers DuPont and
Huntsman, Cristal will be increasing its North American prices
by $0.08/lb (approximately $177/tonne).
European markets which use the
Euro, principally western Europe and portions of eastern
Europe, including Turkey, will see prices hiked by a minimum of
European dollar markets, mainly
eastern European markets such as Russia and the other CIS
nations, will see price increases of $200/tonne.
The same range of increases -
Û175/tonne ($231/tonne) and $200/tonne - will be applied
to the Middle East and North Africa, which also trade in both
US dollars and Euros.
The same increase of $200/tonne
will be applied across Asia-Pacific. This will exclude Japan,
where prices will be increased by Japanese Yen (Y) 20/kg
Nearly all of TiO2
production is sold under contract, mostly short-term, and these
announced increases will not necessarily be implemented across
all contracts once negotiations get underway.
This was definitely true of the
first quarter this year, as the industry saw, when pigment
producer Kronos announced price increases but actually saw a 7%
decrease in prices over the quarter, it revealed in its Q1
Similarly, all of Cristals
announced price increases for this quarter are between 10-30%
lower than the increases announced for Q2, excluding Latin
America which remains at $300/tonne.
* Calculated June 2013