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'Bright future' predicted for titanium minerals.

In its latest report on the titanium minerals industry, Roskill is forecasting that longer term the industries' prospects are improving. Titanium dioxide (Ti[O.sub.2]) pigment production is the most important consumer of titanium dioxide feedstocks accounting for 83 percent of production in 2015--and annual average growth in demand for feedstocks from the Ti[O.sub.2] pigment industry is forecast at 4.2 percent py going forward to 2025.

Feedstock production levels will be slightly higher in 2016, over the 2015 total of 7.56 Mt worldwide. Overall, feedstock production has increased by an average of 3 percent py since 2005, but within this figure synrutile and slag production has fallen, while rutile and ilmenite for direct use have grown faster.

One of the key trends over the last ten years has been the influence of China, especially on ilmenite production levels. Consumption of ilmenite for sulphate-route Ti[O.sub.2] pigment manufacture has increased by 80 percent between 2005 and 2015, largely attributable to the rapid expansion of China's Ti[O.sub.2] manufacturing industry. Most of the expansion has been based on indigenous ilmenite production, but China has also been a major importer of ilmenite over the last ten years. Imports reached a peak in 2012 of nearly 1.6Mt (Ti[O.sub.2] units) but have subsequently fallen back to just over 1Mt in 2015. Imports are mainly sourced from Australia, Kenya, Mozambique, India and until 2013, Vietnam.

Roskill estimates that rutile accounted for 9 percent of titanium feedstock production in 2015 with leading producing companies including Iluka, Cristal and Sierra Rutile. The dominant force in slag production is Rio Tinto, through its wholly-owned RTFT subsidiary in Canada and 74 percent-owned subsidiary RBM in South Africa, together accounting for 57 percent of global output last year.

Looking forward, there will be a change in the demand mix for feedstocks as the Ti[O.sub.2] pigment process capacity evolves. In 2015, chloride-route pigment plants accounted for 39 percent of total feedstock demand, while sulphate-route pigment plants accounted for 44 percent, compared with 46 percent and 41 percent respectively in 2005. Between now and 2025, nearly all the net growth in Ti[O.sub.2] pigment demand will be from chloride-route pigment plants, which will account for just under 50 percent of total feedstock demand, while sulphate route pigment plants will account for just over 30 percent.

In the ten years up to 2015 there were a significant number of mergers and acquisitions in the Ti[O.sub.2] pigment industry, capacity expansions in China and latterly rationalization elsewhere in terms of plant closures. Today there are 60 companies manufacturing Ti[O.sub.2] pigment, 42 of which are based in China. China is the world's largest producer of Ti[O.sub.2] pigment and in 2015 accounted for 40 percent of the world's effective production capacity.

In recent years there has been overproduction of Ti[O.sub.2] pigment, with an average capacity utilization of within the industry of just under 80 percent. As a consequence none of the existing pigment producers outside China are planning to build any new plants. However, several of the larger Chinese pigment producers have plans to install new chloride-route plants with the aim of replacing existing sulphate-route plants.

In terms of demand, nearly all Ti[O.sub.2] is used as a pigment, but there are some interesting non-pigment applications that account for less than 5 percent of total world consumption. Total global consumption was estimated at just under 6Mt in 2015.

The paint industry is the most important end-use sector and accounts for some 55 percent of global consumption. The plastics industry has consistently shown faster growth as a Ti[O.sub.2] end use sector, with a CAGR of 3 percent between 2005 and 2015, with Ti[O.sub.2] pigment used in most polymer systems.

Looking ahead, higher economic growth rates in North America and Japan could result in increased levels of Ti[O.sub.2] pigment consumption. Lower inflation rates in China could lead to a relaxation of the Chinese government's restraint on infrastructure investment, including construction which could lead to increased demand for Ti[O.sub.2] pigment. Roskill forecasts that global Ti[O.sub.2] demand will increase by just over 4 percent py, outpacing world economic growth, ensuring that longer term prospects for the Ti[O.sub.2] pigment industry are positive.
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Title Annotation:Market Reports
Publication:Coatings World
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Sep 1, 2016
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