Over 90% of the world's titanium minerals are sold as feedstock into the pigment industry which manufactures products for the paint, coatings, paper and plastic industries. Titanium-bearing minerals, such as rutile, leucoxene and ilmenite are converted into titanium dioxide pigment using either a chloride or sulphate process.
Titanium’s high grade TiO2 ilmenite will be used as a feedstock for North American TiO2 pigment production.
Titanium dioxide (TiO2) has a high refractive index and, in powder form, is one of the whitest substances on earth. Titanium dioxide pigment is prized for its chemical stability, brightness, non-toxicity and ultraviolet resistance, while titanium metal is known for its extremely high strength to weight ratio and fatigue and oxidization resistance. The unique properties of titanium dioxide give colours a richness unmatched by any other pigment, making it the basic critical ingredient in a wide range of industrial and consumer products including paints, plastics, cosmetics, sunscreens and even candy.
The physical properties of titanium metal make it a key material for use in airframe and jet engine parts, spacecraft and missiles, in addition to high-end sports equipment and prosthetic joints.
Titanium Market Supply/Demand
The demand for the bulk of titanium-bearing mineral feedstock is to produce white pigment. Some 90% goes into paint, plastics, and paper products and the remaining 6% mainly into metal and welding products. World titanium demand is more than 6 million tonnes in TiO2-units per year.
Titanium demand is tied to macroeconomic factors and, accordingly, tracks global gross domestic product, avoiding the deep cyclical price volatility of many industrial commodities. Consumption is concentrated in North America and Europe, with major growth in China.
In the last 25 years, overall demand has grown by about 3% CAGR per year, driven by expanding uses in numerous end markets from architectural paints to aerospace to plastics and even cosmetics. Global TiO2 demand has proven very resilient during 2020, while post-COVID growth is forecast by industry experts of up to 1.7% CAGR by 2021/2022.