Titanium dioxide

10 July 2000 00:00  [Source: ICB]

A steady increase in global demand, at times touching double digit rates, has prompted a series of debottlenecks worldwide


Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a $7bn/year global industry. Worldwide demand in 1999 stood at 3.82m tonne, according to consultancy Artikol. Global capacity is estimated at 4.47m tonne/year in 2000. The US and western Europe account for a third of the market each with Asia consuming nearly 25%. Producers report very tight markets in western Europe as a result of high demand and a number of plant outages over the past few months. A number of ownership changes have occurred in recent years leading to some industry consolidation. By end 2000 five players will account for close to 75% of global TiO2 production. DuPont with 22% is the largest. In Europe HICI (Huntsman 70%, ICI 30%) is the largest producer. Huntsman bought Tioxide from ICI last year following FTC objections to the deal with DuPont. Kerr-McGee has bought the remaining 20% of its 80%-owned plants from Bayer and completed the purchase of Kemira's US and Dutch assets. Kemira retains Pori of Finland.


TiO2 is a white pigment used in paints, protective coatings, inks, plastics, rubber, paper, ceramics and synthetic fibres. It is also used to provide whiteness in cosmetics and toothpastes. The largest consumer, paints, accounts for 57% of global consumption, plastics is next with 21%, followed by paper with 14%.



Prices for standard rutile material stand at DM4.20/kg ($2.05/kg) in western Europe, $1.01-1.10/lb in the US and $2000-2200/tonne in Asia. All major European producers, including Kronos, Millennium, Huntsman Tioxide and Kerr McGee, announced price increases between E140-150/tonne ($134-143/tonne) effective 1 July. Huntsman Tioxide said it would also raise prices in the US and deep sea regions in July. European prices are up to E200/tonne below prices in the rest of the world as a result of euro weakness.


TiO2 is produced from either ilmenite, synthetic rutile or titanium slag. Titanium pigment is extracted by using either sulphuric acid (sulphate process) or chlorine (chloride route). The sulphate route is perceived to be less environmentally friendly but acid recycling or neutralisation, combined with other byproduct developments, can make it as clean as the chloride route. The sulphate route generally has higher production costs and with acid treatment is more expensive to build than a chloride plant. However, the latter may require the construction of a chlor-alkali unit.

The chloride route produces a more pure product with a tighter range of particle size, but anatase pigments can only be produced by the sulphate route. Millennium estimates that 57% of world production uses the chloride route but among the seven top producers the figure rises to 66%.


Global demand has been picking up steadily since the second half of 1999, especially in Asia. In Europe one producer talked of experiencing double digit growth in the first half of this year. However, in the long term, consultants estimate west European demand growth at 3-4%/year. For the rest of 2000 global demand is set to grow at around 4.5%, according to Millennium.

Prices are below reinvestment levels but a number of debottlenecks worldwide will add an extra 200 000 tonne/year of capacity by 2003. Of this around 90 000 tonne/year is in Europe. This includes production at the chloride route unit at Greatham, UK, rising to its rated 100 000 tonne/year and production in Huelva rising by 15 000 tonne/year; the 20000 tonne/year Kemira hike at Pori, Finland, and the 15 000 tonne/year increase at Sachtleben's Duisberg, Germany, plant.

Expansion at DuPont's plant at New Johnsonville, Tennessee, US, will add 65 000 tonne/year, bringing it to 395 000 tonne/year. Upgrades in China should add 20 000-30 000 tonne/year.


Company Location Capacity

Cristal Yanbu, Saudi Arabia 74 C


DuPont Altamira, Mexico 125 C

DeLisle, MS, US 300 C

Edge Moor, DE, US 155 C

New Johnsonville, TN, US 330 C

Kwan Yin, Taiwan 90 C

ISK Yokkaichi, Japan 92 S

Yokkaichi, Japan 68 C

Jurong, Singapore 44 C

Kemira Pori, Finland 100 S

Kerr- Hamilton, MS, US 145 C

McGee Antwerp, Belgium 24 S

Uerdingen, Germany 105 S

Savannah, GA, US 54 S

Savannah, GA, US 91 C

Botlek, Netherlands 56 C

Kronos Frederikstad, Norway 32 S

Ghent, Belgium 55 C

Leverkusen, Germany 120 C

Leverkusen Germany 20 S

Nordenham, Germany 54 S

Varennes, Que, Canada 55 C

Company Location Capacity

Varennes, Que, Canada 18 S

Louisiana Lake Charles, LA, US 120 C


Millennium Ashtabula, OH, US 104 C

Ashtabula, OH, US 86 C

Baltimore, MD, US 51 C

Baltimore, MD, US 44 S

Kemerton, Australia 79 C

Thann, France 33 S

Le Havre, France 105 S

Stallingborough, UK 150 C

Salvador, Brazil 60 S

Sachtleben Duisburg, Germany 90 S

Huntsman Calais, France 115 S

Tioxide Greatham, UK 100 C

Grimsby, UK 75 S

Huelva, Spain 90 S

Scarlino, Italy 81 S

Teluk Kalung, Malaysia 50 S

Umbogintwini, South Africa 45 S

TiWest Kwinana, Australia 80 C

Process: S=sulphate C=chloride

Source: Artikol/companies

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