In quarterly results released on Thursday February 20, Iluka
reported "short-term softness" in the zircon market. The
company left its zircon reference price unchanged through 2019,
at $1,580 per tonne, and said that "prices received were
But this reference price, which is based on premium zircon,
did not necessarily reflect the price paid by regular
customers, which have access to a loyalty system which repays
some of the purchase price, based on buying behavior.
Iluka reported that it had expanded its reward system in
response to the market softness.
On February 20, Fastmarkets reported the price of zircon, premium grade, 66.5% ZrO2 min, bulk,
cif China, at $1,500-1,600 per tonne, compared with
$1,550-1,650 per tonne a year earlier.
Although the company believed that consumer destocking
activity had largely come to an end, considerable uncertainty
remained about demand, thanks to negative sentiment sparked by
the novel coronavirus outbreak in China.
"The mixed market conditions experienced in 2019 were
expected to continue into the start of 2020," Iluka warned.
"What we’ve observed with our Chinese
customers," chief executive Tom O’Leary told
investors on February 20, "is that fewer than half have
recommenced industrial production at this stage, and the
majority are planning to do so at the end of the month. This
requires a resolution [to the] current [problems affecting]
transportation limitations and worker availability."
The picture for titanium dioxide feedstocks was more
positive, thanks to a global shortage of production.
The shortage of supply meant that market conditions "remain
conducive to price increases for this half[-year],"
Fastmarkets assessed the price of rutile concentrate, 95% TiO2 min, bulk, cif
China, at $1,150-1,250 per tonne on February 20, up from
$1,050-1,150 a year earlier.