TiO2/Zircon

Latest News

  • Decarbonization push to support zircon demand growth

    Friday, 28 January 2022

    Oliver Hasler, chairman and chief executive of Indonesia-focused zircon producer PYX Resources, shares his view of what the future holds for the mineral against the backdrop of the growing push toward global decarbonization.

  • Base Resources reports ‘operational consistency’ at Kwale in Q4 2021

    Wednesday, 26 January 2022

    Africa-focused mineral sands producer Base Resources achieved “operational consistency” at its Kwale mine in Kenya in the fourth quarter of 2021, the company said in its operational, development and corporate update for the three months ended December 31.

  • Iluka reports production, sales increases in Q4 2021

    Tuesday, 25 January 2022

    International mineral sands company Iluka Resources achieved quarter-on-quarter production increases for both zircon and rutile in the fourth quarter of last year, the company said in its quarterly review for the three months ended December 31, 2021.

  • Sulfate-grade TiO2 prices stable ahead of lunar new year

    Thursday, 20 January 2022

    Prices for sulfate-grade titanium dioxide remained stable in the week to Thursday January 20, with market participants reporting a slowdown in activity because of the approach of the lunar new year holiday in east Asia.

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Pricing News

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Features

  • Global economic recovery spurs TiO2 market growth

    Thursday, 12 August 2021

    Growing demand for the multiple products that depend on titanium dioxide for their manufacture is driving rising output and revenue for its producers, but that is also raising questions about the future supplies of the feedstock materials they need, as William Clarke reports.

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Market Brief

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a white pigment that is a key ingredient of paints, coatings, paper and plastics. For white products, TiO2 is the material of choice as it is the brightest and whitest commercially available pigment.

TiO2 is manufactured from the minerals ilmenite, rutile and, in smaller quantities, leucoxene, which are primarily sourced from mineral sand deposits, but also can be processed from hard rock deposits.

There are two commercially active ways of manufacturing TiO2: the sulphate and chloride routes. Sulphate tends to utilise the lower grade mineral ilmenite, while chloride processing favours higher quality feedstocks such as rutile.

Zircon is an entirely separate mineral and contains no TiO2. It is however commonly tied up with titanium mineral deposits so most producers also sell quantities of zircon. For few it is the primary focus, but for many miners it is a high-value, by-product bonus.

Supply

TiO2 pigment is a mature industry which has been developed by the chemicals industry. While North America and Europe host the majority of plants, new plants under construction in China are starting to readdress this imbalance.

Leading producers include: DuPont, Cristal Global, Huntsman Corp., Kronos Worldwide and Tronox.

In terms of feedstock mineral production, Australia and South Africa are leading producers. Since 2008/09, new African sources have come online in Mozambique and Madagascar.

In terms of tonnages, ilmenite is by far the largest mined TiO2 mineral. On average it has between 52-54% TiO2 content and is purchased, in the main, by those that manufacturer sulphate TiO2.

Rutile has almost double the TiO2 content at 92-95% TiO2 but is less abundant than ilmenite. The biggest commercially active sources are in Australia and Sierra Leone.

Leading producers of TiO2 minerals include: Iluka Resources (Australia), Exxaro Resources (South Africa), Rio Tinto (Australia), Kenmare Resources (Ireland/Mozambique), Bemax Resources (Australia), Consolidated Rutile (Australia) and Titanium Resources Group (UK/Sierra Leone).

Zircon is commonly tied up with titanium mineral sand deposits but has very different market applications. It is almost double the US dollar value of rutile.

Most of producers of titanium minerals from sand have zircon by-production but the focus on this high-value production is increasing in line with demand driven by China.

Chloride route: 55%

Sulphate route: 45%

Global capacity (tonnes): 5.6m. tpa

Markets 

The largest market is TiO2’s direct use as a white pigment in industrial and household paints and coatings for products such as cars. Significant quantities are also used in plastics and paper where its whiteness is still a primary reason for its use.  

The majority of zircon production finds its way into ceramics, although refractories and foundry sands are also important end uses. In ceramics, China is the biggest influencing factor importing around a third of world supply as it has few zircon sources of its own.