Price and market trends: TiO2 industry must adapt to China

10 May 2013 09:45  [Source: ICB]

The global titanium dioxide (TiO2) industry will need to adapt and become more agile as Chinese demand is expected to increase, a senior executive at UK-headquartered miner Rio Tinto said.

"The industry needs to adapt by improving efficiency, technology and competitiveness," said Jean-Francois Turgeon, managing director at Rio Tinto Iron & Titanium.

He made his comments at the Barcelona TiO2 summit, and they came in response to increasing demand from China.

Painting Rex Features

Rex Features

Demand is rising in China for TiO2, widely used in white paint

"China is importing more and more raw materials, so if you are a raw material supplier, you will want to have a strategy to tackle China," Turgeon said. "You will want to be an important player in the future of China, and that is our intention at Rio Tinto to remain an important participant."

China consumes 33% of global TiO2 output, and it has a little more than 33% of global TiO2 production capacity. This is expected to rise in the next five to 10 years.

Chinese TiO2 manufacturers use the sulphate manufacturing process, which is lower in cost and produces somewhat lower-quality material than the alternative chloride-process, mostly used in North America and parts of Europe.

China will remain a major sulphur-process TiO2 supplier in the long run because it does not have the know-how to utilise the chloride-route production process, said Jim Fisher, CEO of consultancy IBMA.

CHINA STICKS TO SULPHATE

"China will remain sulphate-heavy because they do not have the technology and know-how to run chloride-process plants," said Fisher at the Barcelona TiO2 summit.

The sulphate route is used mostly in Europe where 63% of output is through the sulphate process and in China, where almost 100% of TiO2 is produced by it. In North America 96% of production relies on the chloride process.

Chloride-process TiO2 tends to be of higher quality and more expensive, and mostly produced by western European producers in Europe.


By: Janos Gal
+44 208 652 3214



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