In India, about 57% of the titanium dioxide pigment produced
is used in the paints and coating industry, followed by about
24% in plastics, paper (10%) and inks (3%). Other categories,
such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, synthetic fiber, rubber,
refractories and electronics combined account for the remaining
6% of total consumption.
There is a huge mismatch between total titanium dioxide
demand and supply in India. Following the launch of the Kilburn
Chemicals plant in early 2018, India has a total installed
capacity of 96,500 tonnes per year. Meanwhile, total titanium
dioxide demand is about 124,000 tpy (for the financial year
2017-2018). Additionally, capacity utilization is low, meaning
significant volumes of titanium dioxide are imported into
India has been dependent on Chinese titanium dioxide supply
for some time. But with stringent measures taken by the
Chinese government since mid-2016 on small and highly
polluting titanium dioxide producers, the ability for Indian
titanium dioxide importers to secure supply is worsening.
Chinese titanium dioxide plant closures also resulted in the
titanium dioxide price touching historic highs in the past
one and a half years.
Huge anticipated demand
Titanium dioxide demand in India is expected to steadily
grow in the coming years thanks to growth in the paints and
coating and plastics industries; two sectors which account for
more than 80% of the total titanium dioxide consumption in the
During the 2017-2018 financial year, total paint production
in India was estimated at 4.38 million tonnes, up 5% over the
previous year. In value terms, the paint industry grew by about
8% to 43.5 billion rupees ($587.2 million) of which the
decorative paints share was 74%, with the balance being
industrial paints. The industry’s value grew at a
compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.9% between 2011-2012
The per capita consumption of paints in India - at 3.23kg -
is much lower compared with some developed economies. But the
current low per capita consumption is viewed by domestic paint
producers as an immense future growth opportunity.
Arun Nair, head of corporate communication at
India’s largest paint producer, Asian Paints,
told Fastmarkets IM, "TiO2 prices have become a big concern
for the paint industry in the last three years. But after
touching a multi-year high in June 2017, TiO2 prices have
gradually eased and are currently down by around 14% from the
peak. But there is huge uncertainty regarding the future
prices. Most Indian paint companies import TiO2 from
countries including China."
Raw materials resources
India has large deposits of ilmenite in the states of
Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Total deposits are reported to be around 12% of the
world’s reserves. Indian reserves of ilmenite - a
feedstock for titanium dioxide pigments - are estimated to be
more than 154 million tonnes.
Ilmenite resources in the country are concentrated in five
well defined zones:
- Over a stretch of 22km between Neendakara and
Kayamkulam, Kollam district, Kerala (known as Chavara
deposit after the main mining
- Over a 6km stretch from the mouth of River Valliyar to
Colachal, Manavalakurichi and little beyond in Kanyakumari
district, Tamil Nadu (known as MK deposit).
- On Chatrapur coast stretching to about 18km between
Rushikulya river mouth and Gopalpur lighthouse with an
average width of 1.4 km in Ganjam district, Odisha (known
as OSCOM deposit after IREL’s Orissa Sands
- Brahmagiri deposit, which stretches for 30km from
Girala nala to Village Bhabunia with an average width of
1.91km in Puri district, Odisha.
- Bhavanapadu coast between Nilarevu and Sandipeta, which
covers an area about 25km long and 700m wide in Srikakulam
district, Andhra Pradesh.
Despite the significant reserves of ilmenite, India is
importing large quantities of the material from Africa,
highlighting the lack of mining capacity and an inability to
optimize the production in mines and expand mine
|India’s leading producer, VV
Mineral, is planning to expand feedstock production in
country as prices continue to rise.
Kilburn Chemicals Ltd, a Kolkata-based company, commissioned
its anatase grade titanium dioxide plant at Dahej, in the state
of Gujarat, in March 2018. Kiburn Chemicals is not new to
the titanium dioxide industry. The company had been associated
with titanium dioxide production at Tuticorin, with an
installed capacity of 12,000 tpy of anatase grade material.
Kilburn sold this manufacturing plant to V V Titanium Pigment
Ltd in October 2011.
Kilburn Chemicals said, "The slight delay from the planned
target date of commissioning was mainly on account of floods
and delayed availability of personnel for commissioning of
imported equipment. Several challenges remain with respect to
quality stabilization and ramping up of production and
operations, as is normally expected in titanium dioxide plants.
After achieving stability and growth in anatase production, the
company will focus on further value addition in the form of
rutile grade production."
Elsewhere, Saraf Titanium Products Industry, a group company
of Kolkata based Saraf Agencies Pvt Ltd, started production at
a 30,000 tpy (sulfate route) titanium dioxide plant (both
anatase and rutile grade) in early 2017 in the titanium complex
at Ganjam district in the state of Orissa. The company has kept
a provision for future expansion of titanium dioxide
The company also produces 36,000 tpy of titanium slag and
20,000 tpy of pig iron at the plant.
Tata Steel shelved a titanium dioxide project in the state
of Tamil Nadu, which could have changed the face of the Indian
titanium dioxide industry. Had the 100,000 tpy project been
commissioned, the country would have become a net exporter of
titanium dioxide pigment.
The company had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU)
with the state government of Tamil Nadu and even initiated the
land acquisition process for the project, but the project was
abandoned for various reasons.
Tata Steel is a subsidiary of Tata Group, one of the largest
business conglomerates in the country, with an annual turnover
of more than 100 billion rupees in 2017. According to the MoU,
the company had planned to invest 20 billion rupees ($512
million, based on the USD:INR exchange rate of November 6,
2007) to open the 100,000 tpy titanium dioxide pigment site. It
would have produced titanium dioxide from ilmenite sands
available in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts of the
With an installed capacity of 40,000 tpy of high quality
titanium dioxide derived from rutile at its Kollam-based
production facility, Kerala Minerals & Metals Ltd (KMML) is
the largest titanium dioxide producer in India. The state-owned
enterprise was incorporated in 1956. Major operations comprise
mining, mineral separation and production of titanium
KMML also produces titanium sponge at its plant. The 1.5
billion rupee 500 tpy plant was commissioned in 2011 to develop
titanium sponge after the country faced a major setback in its
defense research works owing to the scarcity of
The company owns four blocks of beach sand in Kollam for
mining, ensuring raw material availability for operations.
Apart from rutile-grade titanium dioxide pigment, KMML also
produces ilmenite, rutile, zircon, sillimanite and synthetic
rutile under the brand name Kemox for use in paints, paper,
cosmetics, rubber, plastics and ceramics.
KMML has been considering expanding capacity by 20,000 tpy
of titanium dioxide at its Kollam plant for some time. The
company has received environmental and other clearance for the
project but has not yet started the expansion
Travancore Titanium Products Ltd (TTPL), another Kerala state
government undertaking, has an installed capacity to produce
17,000 tpy of titanium dioxide pigment by sulphate process at
its plant at Kochuveli, Thiruvananthapuram.
The company is the oldest titanium dioxide producer in the
country, having commenced commercial production in the
Saraf Titanium Products Industry commenced operations at its
30,000 tpy titanium dioxide plant in early 2017. Located
over 260 acres of land at Chhatrapur, Ganjam district within
the premises of its parent company, Saraf Agencies Pvt Ltd in
the state of Odisha, the new manufacturing plant is located in
the proximity of premises belonging to Indian Rare Earth Ltd
(IREL). The company procures Ilmenite from this IREL unit as
well as from a private company with a unit in Srikakulam in the
adjoining state of Andhra Pradesh.
The project was first proposed in 2005 but was beset by
problems for many years. In 2007, the company signed the MoU
with two Russian state-run companies and a private entity
firm, but the Russian companies backed out of the deal
later. In 2008, Saraf Group entered a MoU with the
Odisha government to take up the project on its own.
The technology for the titanium slag plant has been supplied
by Chinese company HPWY. Another Chinese company, Chongqing
Chemical Engineering Design & Research Institute (CCDRI),
has supplied process technology, basic and detailed engineering
for the titanium dioxide plant.
A key executive from the production department at Saraf
Titanium told Fastmarkets IM, on condition of anonymity, "The
quality standards of ilmenite available in Odisha is better
than the ilmenite deposits in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Titanium
content in Kerala ilmenite is 58%, Tamil Nadu ilmenite is 54%
and Odisha ilmenite is 50%. However, the chromium content in
Odisha ilmenite is much lower, which is an important factor in
V V Titanium Pigments Pvt Ltd (VVTi) has operated a 14,500
tpy (anatase grade) titanium dioxide production plant at
Meelavittan SIPCOT Industrial Estate, Tuticorin in the state
of Tamil Nadu since 2011. The plant was previously run by
Kilburn Chemicals between 1994 and 2011, before VVTi took
over the plant. It sources its raw material needs from V V
Minerals, one of the largest industrial minerals companies in