Mineral sand producer Iluka Resources has told the 2018 TZMI
Congress that high-grade titanium feedstocks and zirconium
feedstocks will remain tight into 2019.
The event in Singapore was hosted by independent consultant
TZMI on November 12-14.
Subdued zircon demand in China was reported in early October
this year, resulting from a slowdown in the Chinese economy,
the weakening of the country’s yuan against the
dollar and the continuing effects of strict environmental
But Iluka, which is listed on the Australian Securities
Exchange, has played down reports of a serious or long-term
problem in demand, saying that the recent easing will be
"short lived." The company said that its fourth-quarter sales
have not been affected.
The miner also told delegates that supplies of high-grade
chloride titanium pigment would remain tight as a result of
supply disruptions and deposit depletion.
In order to balance these markets, Iluka is investigating
the restart of its currently idled SR1 synthetic rutile plan in
the southwest of Western Australia, which has capacity for
around 120,000 tonnes per year of synthetic rutile
Iluka noted that a continuous supply of high-quality
chloride ilmenite from its Cataby mine may allow for expansion
of this capacity. Cataby is also in Western Australia and its
first production is expected in the second quarter of 2019,
according to the company’s website.
The company is currently operating its SR2 kiln, which has a
capacity of around 200,000 tpy of synthetic rutile.
It has also emphasized that a definitive feasibility study
is underway at its Sembehun deposits in Sierra Leone, where a
substantial volume of natural rutile exists.
For zircon, Iluka has emphasized the increasingly important
role of the supply of zircon-in-concentrate (ZIC). It has
provided guidance of around 335,000 tpy of zircon production
from 2018 to 2021, which will include a substantial base-load
component of ZIC.
Iluka has been using ZIC more readily in recent times due to
the company’s ability to produce it at low cost by
upgrading and blending current and stockpiled byproduct
The company has also revealed that it is working on other
projects to ensure longer-term supply security for its
Iluka is making progress in unlocking large but fine-grained
'WIM’ deposits in Victoria, Australia, it said.
Recent technological progress has allowed this project to move
into the pre-feasibility stage, it added.
The company is also working on its Balranald deposit in New
South Wales, Australia, with a commercial decision on further
field trials to be made in the new year.