Industry participants at the Deyang Phosphor-Titanium
Chemical Green Development Forum held at the start of December
in China have predicted that consolidation in
China’s titanium dioxide (TiO2)
industry is set to continue as the country adapts to an
Speakers also forecast that, in the long term, China will
use both the sulphuric acid (sulphate) and chloride-routes for
TiO2 production, though the industry will have
stricter environmental policies to adhere to.
Yijiang Fu, vice secretary of the TiO2 branch at
the China Coating Industry Association, suggested that China
should work harder to make breakthroughs in chloride-route
production, which is considered to be a more efficient process
and produces higher quality TiO2.
Currently, China lacks ilmenite resources and must import
expensive feedstock material, while there have been no major
breakthroughs in the chloride technique in the country.
Fu additionally suggested that, at the same time, producers
should perfect the sulphate-route production technique to
satisfy stricter environmental requirements.
A major barrier to the adoption of chloride-route
TiO2 production in China is the high cost of
developing the technology; importing it or developing it
through R&D is likely to cost billions of Chinese renminbi
Speaking at the conference, Xingrong Xu, vice chief engineer
at Donghua Project Technology Co., noted that more stringent
environmental regulations in the form of the Discharge Standard
for Pollutants in Oil and Chemical Industry will come into
1 July 2017, which will result
in restrictions on sulphate-route
TiO2 producers, giving chloride-route
production a chance to develop.
According to Xiaokui Zhou, vice president of Lomon Group,
sulphate-route TiO2 is likely to remain the main
product in the industry.
The key to sustainable manufacturing should be clean
production and a circular economy, with extensive use of
sulphate-route TiO2 waste and byproducts, Xiaokui
said. He added that the company relies on the rich ilmenite
resources in the Panzhihua area and has plans to speed up
R&D on a circular sulphuric TiO2
Consolidation won’t cut
Speakers at the conference also said that consolidation
trends would continue in China, with producers becoming larger
but fewer in number. With pressure from the market and
environmental regulations, speakers said it was inevitable that
smaller companies with 100,000 tpa and 50,000 tpa capacities
would be gradually eliminated.
However, experts warned that unless the serious overcapacity
problem is addressed, the whole industry will remain in its
current depressed state and that TiO2 prices may
decline further to extreme lows, with no hope of a price
recovery this year.
Despite the overcapacity issue, new TiO2 capacity
is slated to come online by the end of this year.
Jiangsu Taibai Chemical Co., a subsidiary of Jilin Gpro
Titanium Co., finished its 80,000 tpa TiO2 project
on 30 November and is now ready to begin production, two years
after the venture was started.
The project, located in the industrial park in Xuzhou city,
consisted of Rmb 870m ($135m*)-worth of investment as part of
the its plan to move industrial companies out of the city and
into the park. Production will also consist of an additional
300,000 tpa sulphuric acid and 250,000 tpa ferrous sulphate,
addressing the the demand gap for high end rutile
Additionally, the newly merged entity of China Henan
Billions Chemicals Co. and Sichuan Lomon Titanium Industry Co.,
has announced plans to expand its output with 100,000 tpa
additional chloride-route TiO2 capacity over the
According to figures from the China National Chemical
Industry Productivity Centre, China’s production
capacity for TiO2 is set to reach 3.2m tonnes this
up from 3.06m tonnes in 2014. However, of the 3.06m installed
capacity China registered last year, actual output was just
2.44m tonnes, up 13% year-on-year
Today, there are 46 large scale manufacturers in China,
running a total of 56 plants. Four of these are central
government state-owned enterprises (SOEs), while three are
local government SOEs and four are listed companies, with the
remainder under private ownership.
Domestic feedstock developments
While China lacks the high quality feedstock needed for
chloride-route TiO2 production, which hinders
developments owing to the need to import feedstock, Angang
Group Research Institute has announced it has made a
breakthrough in relying on domestic feedstock.
Angang said it used ilmenite from Panzhihua in Sichuan
province as a source material to develop a titanium slag
upgrade technique to produce high quality titanium-rich
material, with a TiO2 content of 88%-95%,
SiO2 less than 2.5%, CaO less than 0.15% and MgO
less than 1%, to satisfy chloride route requirements.
*Conversion made December 2015