Titanium dioxide (TiO2) producer
Huntsman Corp. is to shut a European plant and cut its
workforce by around 900 positions to improve the global
competitiveness of its pigments and additives business.
The restructuring programme is estimated to save
the company $130m annually, and is expected to be completed by
A company spokesperson confirmed to
IM that around 75% of the reductions will come
from the newly acquired pigment business, which it took over
from Rockwood Holdings in October, including at one site in
Finland, and two in Germany.
"Our overall aim is to create a market leader,
and we’re well on the way, but obviously there are
some steps we need to take before we get there," the
spokesperson told IM.
Huntsman is currently in discussions with
workers’ representatives regarding the
restructuring, and expects that the changes will start to take
place in the new year.
"We are in discussions, and of course we will
respect the laws of the respective countries," the spokesperson
Huntman’s CEO, Peter Huntsman, said
that the $4bn Rockwood business acquisition means the company
now has the broadest product offering of specialised pigments
in the industry and that the restructuring will enable the
company to compete more aggressively on a global scale.
"In terms of further restructuring, there is
nothing else in the pipeline as far as I know, the business is
in good shape," the company spokesperson
Huntsman is also evaluating
TiO2 capacity reduction options in its pigments
and additives business, which the spokesperson confirmed would
most likely be decided in the new year.
During a conference webcast in December, CFO Kimo
Esplin said that Huntsman "probably doesn’t need"
all seven of its European TiO2 plants
Huntsman said he believed TiO2 prices
were "heading to the bottom" as 2014 came to a close, adding
that it was difficult to call the floor in the market, but that
many buyers of TiO2 were hesitant to make
"On ilmenite, prices have been low for ores and I
believe there will continue to be downward pressure on those
ores," he added.
Kerala High Court rules for beach sand
mining by private companies
The Kerala High Court in India has dismissed the
state government’s appeal against a decision
allowing private companies to mine mineral beach sands in the
state, which are rich in titanium, ilmenite and rutile.
According to local media reports, Industry
Minister, PK Kunhalikutty, will release a roadmap on how to
proceed with the issue.
"There is no need for any knee-jerk reaction and
all things will be dealt with our government after going
through everything," he was reported as saying on India TV
A division bench of the Kerala High Court asked
the state government to consider 29 pending applications from
private and joint sector companies seeking approval to mine
mineral sands from beaches in Kerala in December.
The state government had originally decided to
bar mineral sand beach mining by private companies, but this
decision was dismissed by Kerala High Court in February 2013.
The state government proceeded to appeal the decision, though
the appeal has now once again been dismissed.
Currently, the only companies allowed to mine
beach sands in the area are state-owned Kerala Minerals and
Metals Ltd and central government-owned Indian Rare Earths
The decision to allow private companies to mine
beach sands in the area has also been met with hostility from
the opposition Communist Party of India (Marxist), which has
urged the government to file another appeal, this time in the
In a statement, the party criticised the
government in its delay over filing an appeal. Opposition
leader VS Achuthanandan added that public sector companies
should be given mining opportunities in the region over private
Chief Minister Oomen Chandy, however, told
India TV News that there had not been a delay in
"Now the next step in this issue would be taken
through discussions with appropriate people. Each and every
aspect would be looked into, and then we will take the
decision," he said.
Beach sand mining bans
Neighbouring Indian state, Tamil Nadu, has also
faced problems in terms of regulating its beach sand mining
In September 2013, a ban was implemented in the
state following a report on illegal mining of beach minerals in
the Tuticorin district and mineral sand miners subsequently
took to the streets to protest the ban.
The ban led to the closure of 71 sand mines in
the area and pushed up domestic sand prices, which in turn
affected the availability of mineral sands such as ilmenite,
rutile and garnet, as well as the construction and aggregates
Mineral Sands News Review
Tasnee signs $428m agreement to increase
stake in Cristal
Saudi Arabia’s National
Industrialization Co. (Tasnee) has signed a $428m agreement to
increase its stake in TiO2 producer Cristal Global
Cristal confirmed to IM that
Gulf Investment Corp. (GIC) agreed to sell part of its
shareholding in Cristal to Tasnee, taking Tasnee’s
stake in the company from 66% to 79%. GIC will still hold 20%,
while the remaining 1% will continue to be owned by a private
A bid for the shares was initially made in
Cristal previously indicated it was moving
towards vertical integration though its joint venture (JV)
agreement to build a 15,600 tpa titanium sponge production
facility in Yanbu Industrial City, Saudi Arabia. The company is
also building a 500,000 tpa titanium slag operation in the
However, Cristal confirmed to IM
that it does not believe the change in shareholding will affect
its operations or strategy.
Kenmare rebuffs Mozambique mine
Irish mineral sands miner Kenmare Resources Plc
has rejected criticisms by the Center for Public Integrity
(CPI), which said the company has failed to meet pledges to
people near to its Moma mine in Mozambique.
According to the report, which was published at
the end of November, promised infrastructure upgrades around
the site had not been carried out, while schools built by
Kenmare remained unconnected to the power grid.
The company was also accused of providing
inadequate housing for local people displaced by its Moma
mineral sands project.
"Kenmare wholly rejects the suggestions made by
CIP regarding our commitment to the Mozambique economy," a
company spokesperson told IM. "The CIP
statement is filled with inaccuracy and misrepresents our
business and our relationship with the community in which we
The company added that it has constructed a total
of seven primary schools and agreed to support a further
maintenance programme for their upkeep. However, the schools
are run and maintained by the Ministry of Education, and at the
time of construction electricity was not available in the
villages in question, Kenmare told IM.
"The final connection to the schools must be
carried out by EDM (Electricidade de Mozambique)," the
spokesperson told IM.
The company also refutes claims that it has not
kept to its infrastructure obligations, saying that it has made
electricity supply available for over 70,000 people in the
MZI signs 25,000 tpa leucoxene sales
agreement with DuPont
ASX-listed MZI Resources Ltd has signed a sales
agreement with DuPont Titanium Technologies for 25,000 tpa
leucoxene from its Keysbrook mineral sands project in Western
The agreement, which is for an initial term of
five years with an option to extend the term, means that around
85% of MZI’s planned annual production volume has
now been accounted for, which helps to de-risk the project, MZI
"Having DuPont, the world’s largest
TiO2 pigment producer, enter into a sales agreement
for a large portion of Keysbrook’s annual L88
production, combined with the existing sales agreement for all
L70 production, is a clear indication of the strategic value of
the Keysbrook project and its products," MZI’s
CEO, Trevor Matthews, said.
MZI plans to continue discussions with other
potential customers for sales agreements for Keysbrook during
the construction of the project.
MZI also announced that following the completion
of all funding conditions, its board of directors has resolved
to proceed with the development of the Keysbrook project, which
is located 70km south of Perth.
AkzoNobel to supply vehicle refinishes to
AkzoNobel Performance Coatings has signed an
agreement with Daimler to become an approved supplier of
vehicle refinishes to the automotive company and approved
Under the terms of the contract, AkzoNobel will
supply and support Daimler’s dealership network
with its Sikkens brand of products.
"We are delighted to have been approved as a
global supplier for one of the world’s leading
automotive companies," Jorg Anders, a key account manager in
AkzoNobel’s Vehicle Refinishes business, said.
"The deal reflects the industry’s
trust in our products and services, our strength in product
innovation and colour matching and in particular the range of
services and support that we over our customers."
Approval was granted after extensive testing and
analysis revealed Sikkens products to comply with the highest
automotive industry standards.
Savannah identifies higher grades at
UK-listed Savannah Resources Plc has confirmed
zones of higher grade heavy mineral sands (HMS) at its Jangamo
heavy mineral sands project in Mozambique.
A 1,920 metre scout and resource drilling
programme was completed at the 180km2 resource in
September 2014 and revealed results of 24 metres at 5.21% HMS
in one location and 33 metres at 5.18% HMS at another.
The company now plans to work on calculating a
JORC resource for the mineralisation which is expected to be
completed by the
end of 2014, Savannah’s CEO, David
Savannah aims to focus on the 15km strandline to
the west of the project area, which intersected encouraging
zones of mineralisation. A metallurgical test work programme is
also underway on the HMS, with samples en-route to Perth.
According to Archer, Mozambique, which currently
only has one major mineral sands producer - Kenmare -
represents a huge opportunity for the sector as the industry
has to date been relatively underexposed.
TiZir makes first ilmenite
Senegal-based JV mineral sands miner TiZir made
its first shipment from the Grande Cote mineral sands mine of
around 27,000 tonnes ilmenite to the TTI ilmenite upgrading
facility in Norway in December.
TiZir, which is equally owned by Eramet and
Australian company Mineral Deposits Ltd (MDL), owns both Grande
Cote and TTI.
Once ramped-up, the mine should reach output
levels of 4.5m tpm ore.
Grande Cote is capable of providing 7% of the
world’s TiO2 and zircon feedstock
requirement at regular production levels of around 85,000 tpa
zircon and 575,000 tpa ilmenite, including smaller masses of
rutile and leucoxene, over an operational period of 20
"Environmental regulation is limiting operation
rates and this will continue to kick some producers out of the
industry," Wang said.