TZMI 18: What we learned

By IM Staff
Published: Thursday, 20 December 2018

Key takeaways from independent consultant TZMI’s 2018 congress held on November 12-14 in Singapore.

Supply security is a concern for the entire supply chain

Reliable and consistent supply of zirconium and titanium minerals remains a primary concern for pigment, welding and ceramic end-users. End-use customers are increasingly interested in new mining projects that span all heavy minerals.

Prices for premium zircon sand are expected to remain firm

Most market participants spoken to by Fastmarkets believe that prices for premium zircon sand will continue at high levels in Europe and in China for the next two quarters. A combination of supply tightness and strong end-market demand were seen to be supporting this price scenario. The same cannot be said for standard-grade zircon sand, which is well-supplied into the Chinese market.

Prices for rutile expected to increase

Most market participants told Fastmarkets that they expected rutile prices, both bulk and bagged, to increase in the coming quarter. Particularly tight supplies were the primary driver. It has been confirmed that some pigment producers are looking to synthetic rutile to replace some of their natural rutile feedstock and welding end-users have begun to blend rutile with ilmenite. It is unclear how these trends will affect pricing, considering that natural rutile has many advantages over lower-titanium feedstocks in both welding and in pigment processing.

Ilmenite demand is strengthening in China

Concerns that coatings producers held large stockpiles of titanium dioxide pigment in China seem to be unfounded, meaning that sulfate ilmenite demand in the coming quarters will be strong, according to many market participants. Sulfate route pigment producers may also find increasing levels of competition from chloride slag producers, which are seeking larger volumes of ilmenite for their own needs.