Cristal's Ilmenite Smelter Project, in Jazan, Saudi Arabia,
has experienced a technical issue, parent company Saudi Arabian
National Industrialization Co (Tasnee) said this week. The
issue arose during an attempted start-up of one of the
furnaces, causing the furnace to be shut down on Sunday October
The smelter’s planned start-up coincided with a
period characterized by strong demand and tight supply for high
grade titanium feedstocks, including both rutile and titanium slag.
Fastmarkets IM assessed the price of rutile
concentrate min. 95% TiO2 bagged, fob Australia as stable
at $1,050-1,300 per tonne on Thursday October 25, a level held
since July 26, when it rose from $1,000-1,250 per tonne. This
compares with $750-850 per tonne a year ago.
Fastmarkets IM's rutile concentrate
min 95% TiO2 large volumes for pigment fob Australia price
was $1,000-1,050 per tonne on Thursday, maintaining levels held
since October 4, when it rose from $930-1,050 per tonne. This
compares with $710-770 per tonne a year ago.
Cristal is working with engineering contractor Outotec, as
well as Tronox, to understand what happened at the smelter
project. The company intends to try the start-up again in the
second half of 2019, it said.
According to data from consulting company TZ Minerals
International (TZMI) in May 2018, the furnaces have a capacity
of 260,000 TiO2 units of titanium slag production once fully
operational. Prior to this most recent incident, TZMI expected
production to ramp up to this level by 2022.
Cristal has been attempting to reach the production stage
with its Jazan titanium smelter since 2015, and has pumped in
millions of dollars of investment since its construction in the
hope of producing chloride slag.
Tronox and Cristal, who are both major international
vertically integration titanium dioxide producers, intend to
merge. But the tie up is being
stalled by United States regulators which have opposed the
deal, citing fears it will decrease competition in the
titanium dioxide market, specifically in the market for
high-grade chloride-route pigment, leading to higher prices for
If Tronox is able to bring the ilmenite smelter online with
its in-house expertise following the merger, it will require ilmenite as
a feedstock, resulting in a possible increased demand for this
mineral, Fastmarkets IM reported earlier.
For now however, ilmenite prices remain subdued, with the price of Ilmenite
concentrate, 47-49% TiO2, cif China at $160-180 per tonne
on Thursday, unchanged from September 20. Prices have declined
from highs of around $190-200 per tonne, a price last seen in