TiO2, ilmenite markets watch for disruption from coronavirus outbreak

By William Clarke
Published: Thursday, 30 January 2020

Titanium dioxide and ilmenite traders are closely watching the rapid spread of a coronavirus infection in central China, with cases reported in many of the industry’s production centers.

China is the world’s principal producer of titanium dioxide, and is a major importer of feedstocks such as ilmenite and rutile.

On Wednesday January 29, Chinese media reported the first death from a coronavirus infection in Sichuan, the major location for the mining of ilmenite and production of TiO2.

Xiangyuan, in the province of Hubei, is another major ilmenite producing region. It lies about 250km northwest of Wuhan, where the infection has been most prominent, but has not been put under quarantine in the way that Wuhan has.

Ilmenite import prices remained steady on January 30, with importers reported to have strong stocks. Market activity was very slow, however, because of the Chinese new year holiday.

Fastmarkets on January 30 assessed the price of ilmenite concentrate, 47-49% TiO2, cif China, at $200-220 per tonne, unchanged week on week.

Shanghai, the port from which most of China’s TiO2 exports leave, had recorded a total of 112 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of January 30.

But activity there has also stalled for the lunar new year celebrations, with no change in offer prices reported over the past week.

"The office in China is closed [due to the coronavirus situation]," a North America-based trader told Fastmarkets. "I don’t know when they’ll return to work."

Fastmarkets assessed the price of titanium dioxide pigment, high quality, bulk volume, cfr Asia, at $2,200-2,550 per tonne on Thursday, unchanged week on week.

 



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