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TiO2 DEVELOPMENTS | PIGMENTS TiO2 market


remains unsettled


The price fluctuations that have


characterised the TiO2 market in recent years do not seem likely to disappear.Peter Mapleston looks at market and product developments


Supply of titanium dioxide (TiO2 ) white pigment


has in recent years been characterised by price swings that have hampered planning (among other things) on the demand side. It is not clear if that is likely to change in the near future. Mark Vergnano, CEO of leading producer Chemours, says his company is doing its bit to help in terms of price stability by driving signifi- cantly more TiO2


sales under its Value Stabilization


(VS) contracts. Customers may not always pay less than if they buy on the spot market or if they have shorter-term contracts, but at least the uncertainty is taken out of the equation, and inventory can be stabilised, is the company’s message. The Chemours VS multi-year TiO2


capacity,” Vergnano told one news outlet earlier this year. Plants that were shut down as a result of a government crack-down on pollution are not coming back, he noted. Chemours itself is debot- tlenecking its TiO2


plants around the world to add


an additional 10% of capacity through 2021 from a year end 2017 base of 1.25m tonnes/year. Other companies too are on growth paths.


Lomon Billions is now the largest TiO2 pigment contracts allow


customers to have flexibility in volumes while maintaining a more stable price. Vergnano says that, in the long run, they should help stabilise the industry. He also says that overall quality of TiO2


producer in China and the world’s fourth largest, operating both chloride and sulphate plants. Marketing Director Julie Reid, based in Stockton-on- Tees, UK (she was previously with Huntsman) said at Chinaplas earlier this year that Lomon Billions plans to significantly grow its production capacity. “We’re aiming to become the global market leader with around 1.3m tonnes of TiO2


pigment capacity by from


Chinese suppliers, many of which operate with sulphate technology, will take “many years” to get to chloride levels. Nor does he see much more capacity coming onstream there, noting that, for all applica- tions, around 200,000 tonnes/year of capacity needs to be added annually, just to meet demand growth. “Today we are back into balance. China has shut down a lot of inefficient capacity, and I don’t see any reason China would re-enter with a lot of


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the mid 2020’s,” she said. Earlier this year, the company said it would add 200,000 tonnes/yr of chloride capacity with two new lines in Jiaozuo, China. Production is forecast to begin next year.


Back in the West, the merger of two other TiO2 majors hangs in the balance. At the beginning of July, the European Commission approved the acquisition of Cristal by Tronox – first announced in February 2017 – conditional on full compliance with commitments offered by Tronox. Commis- sioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competi-


October 2018 | COMPOUNDING WORLD 27


Main image: Structural changes, such as the takeover of Cristal by Tronox that is being chal- lenged in the


US, mean TiO2 markets are likely to remain unsettled for some time


PHOTO: TRONOX


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