Titanium Feedstock, Zircon and Pigment Industries Severely Impacted by the Global Economic Crisis

TZMI's flagship publication, Mineral Sands Annual Review, defines the standard for industry-wide analysis, providing comprehensive data and concise, independent commentary in nine chapters, which include titanium sponge and metal as well as high purity pig iron. An introduction to the titanium industry and profiles of titanium feedstock, pigment and titanium sponge producers and zircon millers are provided in separate appendices.

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Perth, WA, Australia (PRWEB) June 19, 2009

TZMI has just released its 17th edition of Mineral Sands Annual Review which provides an in-depth analysis of the titanium and zircon industry's performance during 2008 plus a view on the short to medium term outlook. The impact of the global economic crisis which took hold during the fourth quarter of 2008 has been dramatic, with virtually no industry left untouched. An entire chapter has been devoted to discussing the crisis and the potential impact that it may have on the industry.

The effects of this crisis reverberated through the TiO2 pigment industry as many operations were forced to throttle back their production rates. The first three quarters of 2008 still showed relatively strong demand for pigment, but fourth quarter demand plummeted and, as a result, overall demand for the year dropped by almost 5% to 4.72 million tonnes in 2008 with a larger decline forecast for 2009. TZMI estimates global TiO2 pigment production for 2008 at 4.91 million tonnes, 4.0% lower than 2007 production levels.

The already severe financial pressure the titanium dioxide pigment sector was under in 2007 increased further in 2008. Price recovery did occur in most markets, but at a rate lower than cost escalation, so the sector declined even further. Plant closures, some termed as temporary that could become permanent, are now occurring and one major producer, Tronox, has filed for US bankruptcy protection.

The most significant change in the last 10 years has been the dramatic rise in demand for TiO2 pigment in the Asia-Pacific region, led by China. Demand in this region grew from 20.8% of global demand in 1998 to over 35.1% in 2008. China has been responsible for 78% of the incremental tonnage consumed in Asia-Pacific and 66% of the global incremental demand since 1998.

Titanium feedstock supply dynamics in 2008 were dominated by a number of unforeseen events which negatively impacted on production for a number of feedstock producers. Coupled with the behind-schedule performance of several new feedstock projects, this resulted in a relatively tight feedstock market for most of the year - with some easing in the market by year end, in particular for sulfate ilmenite, due to the sharp decline in demand.

The global consumption of titanium feedstocks showed a decline of 4.6% in 2008 to, 6.0 million TiO2 units, reversing the trend of strong demand growth that has been evident since 2002. The overall trend was dominated by the sudden decline in global pigment demand and production in Q4 2008, and resulted in overall feedstock offtake for 2008 in this market segment decreasing by 5% to 5.3 million TiO2 units.

Estimates of global feedstock supply show a decline of 3% to 6.05 million TiO2 units for 2008. The most significant contribution to the decline in supply came from sulfate grade feedstocks, with production down 5% year-on-year. The hardest hit was sulfate ilmenite production which showed a decrease of 8% when compared with 2007. The overall decline in chloride grade feedstock supply was more subdued, with supply decreasing by less than 2%. While the impact of the global economic downturn on the supply of feedstocks for 2008 appears relatively limited, the effect of the crisis will become more apparent as 2009 progresses. A decline of 8% to 5.6 million TiO2 units is forecast for global titanium feedstock supply in 2009, the brunt of this being borne by sulfate grade feedstocks.

The total end-use consumption of zircon in 2008 is estimated by TZMI to have been about 1.26 million tonnes with consumption in 2009 expected to fall by 16%. The hardest hit region will be Europe where consumption is expected to fall by 30% year-on-year. TZMI's estimate of global production of zircon in 2008 is 1.24 million tonnes, a decrease of 85,000 tonnes from the production level in 2007.

TZMI's flagship publication, Mineral Sands Annual Review, defines the standard for industry-wide analysis, providing comprehensive data and concise, independent commentary in nine chapters, which include titanium sponge and metal as well as high purity pig iron. An introduction to the titanium industry and profiles of titanium feedstock, pigment and titanium sponge producers and zircon millers are provided in separate appendices.

The 2009 edition also identifies key trends and developments and provides authoritative, independent and accurate data and research delivered in an illustrated report of more than 300 pages. It serves as a definitive reference for all industry participants and the financial community, employing up-to-date supply/demand models to provide a short to medium term outlook for trade, consumption, production and pricing through to 2011 and comprehensive data from 2003.

About TZMI
Headquartered in Australia, TZMI operates a team of expert consultants from global locations including Australia, South Africa, China and Europe. With over 100 years of accumulated experience, TZMI's principals have been closely involved in the mineral sands and TiO2 pigment industries since the 1970s. TZMI specialises in confidential consulting services for titanium minerals, zircon, titanium sponge and TiO2 pigment industries as well as publishing and specialised market studies and reports based on its comprehensive database of production and market data. http://www.tzmi.com

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