IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Titanium Ores and Concentrates – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.
In the first half of 2021, prices for titanium and its derivatives shot up in response to rising demand and a drop in titanium mining last year, as well as titanium shaving stocks reduction. The rebound in the chemical and aerospace industries is a key driver for the rising demand for the metal. The potential use of titanium derivatives in alternative energy is set to stimulate further market expansion. Robust demand expectations are to keep prices elevated in the immediate term.
Key Trends and Insights
In 2021, the recovering demand from the downstream industries led to an increase in titanium prices. According to data from Asian Metal, the price for Chinese titanium sponge rose from a low of $6.9 per kg in July 2020 to $10.5 per kg in June 2021.
The prices of titanium scrap jumped in 2021 due to a drop in global stocks of shavings, a byproduct of aircraft manufacturing. According to IndexBox estimates, the average import price for titanium scrap increased from $2.9 per kg in January 2021 to $4.1 in April 2021. During this period, the import price for titanium dioxide increased from $2.6 to $3.2 per kg, while the import price for titanium fluctuated within the range of $11.3 – $14.7 per kg. Strong expectations of further market growth are expected to drive prices further in the medium term, at least until any new positive data on titanium mining will arrive.
According to IndexBox estimates based on USGS data, the global production of titanium ores and concentrates in 2020 decreased by 1.2% y-o-y to 13M tonnes. The 2020 lockdowns led to a drop in demand for titanium concentrates from stagnating chemical, metallurgical and aerospace industries. The pandemic-related mine closures were also a factor behind the production drop.
The growth in demand for titanium from the paint and varnish industries remains the main market driver. Titanium dioxide is one of the most sought-after pigments and fillers in the paint, coating and plastics industries. The demand for paints and varnishes is growing markedly due to the construction boom and the recovery of the automotive industry. The rising trend in the construction of super-large container ships will be relevant in the medium term and should sharpen the need for paints with titanium dioxide.
The reopening of air travel and water transport will increase the need for the renewal of aircraft fleets and will lead to a further increase in demand for titanium as it is the main metal used in their construction. One of the world’s largest airliner manufacturers, Airbus, has announced plans to expand production, expecting the demand for airliners to recover to pre-crisis levels within the next two years. According to quarterly reports for 2021, Boeing and Airbus increased aircraft deliveries in the second quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2020, which indicates a recovery in demand.
The commercialization of technology for manufacturing semiconductor photocatalysts based on titanium dioxide, which are used for hydrogen fuel production, water and air purification, etc, may act as a new stimulus for the titanium market to develop. Industrial filters based on titanium dioxide neutralize organic gas emissions by converting them into carbon dioxide and water. This process could become a cheaper alternative to the traditional after-burning of factory off-gases. Titanium dioxide can be used in manufacturing solar cells and batteries. This technology could compete commercially with traditional silicon batteries if the efficiency of titanium dioxide batteries can be raised by up to 30%.
Global Titanium Ore Production by Country
In 2020, after two years of growth, there was a decline in the production of titanium ores and concentrates, when its volume decreased by -1.2% to 13M tonnes. In value terms, titanium ore and concentrate production shrank slightly to $7.8B in 2020 estimated in export prices.
The countries with the highest volumes of titanium ore and concentrate production in 2020 were China (4.2M tonnes), Canada (2.1M tonnes) and Mozambique (1M tonnes), with a combined 56% share of global production. These countries were followed by South Africa, Australia, Ukraine, Norway, Senegal, Madagascar, Kenya, South Korea, India and Viet Nam, which together accounted for a further 40%. Moreover, titanium ore and concentrate production in China exceeded the figures recorded by the world’s second-largest producer, Canada, twofold.
From 2012 to 2020, the most notable rate of growth in terms of titanium ore and concentrate production, amongst the leading producing countries, was attained by Senegal, while titanium ore and concentrate production for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.
Global Titanium Ore Exports by Country
In 2020, shipments abroad of titanium ores and concentrates decreased by -20.3% to 3.1M tonnes, falling for the third year in a row after two years of growth. In value terms, titanium ore and concentrate exports fell to $1.3B (IndexBox estimates) in 2020.
In 2020, South Africa (724K tonnes), Ukraine (539K tonnes), Senegal (509K tonnes), Kenya (400K tonnes), South Korea (275K tonnes) and India (255K tonnes) represented the key exporter of titanium ores and concentrates in the world, achieving 86% of total export. It was distantly followed by Australia (152K tonnes), committing a 4.8% share of total exports. The U.S. (58K tonnes) took a little share of total exports.
In value terms, South Africa ($486M) remains the largest titanium ore and concentrate supplier worldwide, comprising 38% of global exports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Kenya ($157M), with a 12% share of global exports. It was followed by Ukraine, with a 11% share.
In 2020, the average titanium ore and concentrate export price amounted to $408 per tonne, rising by 19% against the previous year. From 2012 to 2020, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Kenya, while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.
Source: IndexBox Platform