More TiO2 producers, output in 2017 in China

By Albert Li
Published: Thursday, 14 December 2017

Output to increase to 2.7m tonnes, as capacity utilization rates increase.

Speaking at the 2017 China TiO2 Industry Annual Meeting, Sheng Bi of the China Chemical Industry Productivity Promotion Center has forecast an increase in the numbers of domestic TiO2 producers and output in 2017.

At the 2017 China TiO2 Industry Annual Meeting, held in Chongqing on November 18, Sheng Bi, the director of the titanium dioxide (TiO2) branch of the China Chemical Industry Productivity Promotion Center, made a presentation on the current and future TiO2 production and output levels in China.

In 2016, China’s TiO2 capacity was 3.06 million tonnes per year and output was 2.6 million tpy, increasing by 11.8% year-on-year. This means that the capacity utilization rate reached 84.97% in 2016, up by 9.05% from the 75.92% utilization rate reached in 2015.

The output included 1.97 million tonnes of rutile type TiO2, 474,740 tonnes of anatase type and 153,363 tonnes of non-pigment TiO2, accounting for 75.82%, 18.28% and 5.9%, respectively.

Bi expects output to increase to 2.7 million tonnes this year; business is improving, the price keeps increasing and supply and demand is becoming balanced. Environmental protection, however, is the main pressure on output, especially since during the second quarter of 2017 all major and minor producers were affected.

In 2016, there were 39 TiO2 producers in 'normal’ production status after many small-sized producers were shut down during the 2012-15 depression and the recovering business brought back some dead producers.

In 2017, the number of producers exceeds 39, and some projects that were halted now want to revive operations and are waiting for investment, Bi explained.

The positive situation in 2016 and 2017 was supported by consecutive, large volume exports, which reduced pressure on the internal market. Export quantities increased by 33.8% on an annual basis in 2016, while in January-September 2017 exports increased by 10.78% year-on-year, and are expected to exceed 800,000 tonnes for the whole of 2017.

Price increase notices from domestic producers, however, were questioned by Bi because it appeared that some producers were just following the actions of others and their prices did not actually need to rise at all.

For example, when leading international companies such as Chemours or Kronos increased their prices, domestic producers immediately followed. But their products have different qualities, applications, end-markets and supply-demand situations, so one product price increase should not mean an increase for all products.

Industrial Minerals assessed the titanium dioxide pigment, high quality, bulk volume, cfr Asia price at $2,700-3,100 per tonne on November 26, flat from July 27. But this was a $500-900 per tonne increase from the price of $1,800-2,600 per tonne assessed at the beginning of 2017, and a $1,050-1,240 per tonne rise from the $1,650-1,860 per tonne assessed at the beginning of 2016.

Domestic producers should realize that the TiO2 industry will not undergo the rare booming phenomenon of 2016 again, Bi warned.

Producers should be realistic, he added, and should focus on carrying out the fundamental task of environmental protection correctly, because adhering to the stricter environmental standards and inspection levels is the only way to achieve 'normal’ production status accreditation and ensure that production restarts.