Three companies produced ilmenite and rutile concentrates from surface mining operations in Florida, Georgia, and Virginia in 2015, with zircon as a coproduct. Domestic production remained flat at 100,000 t; exports were also unchanged for the year, remaining at 1,000 t. Imports for consumption dropped by 10% in 2015 to 1 Mt, and apparent consumption declined by 7.6% to 1.1 Mt. Domestic titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigment producers again accounted for about 95% of titanium mineral concentrate consumption.
According to a report from Ceresana, global pigment sales in 2014 were 9.7 Mt; TiO2 pigments registered over 59% of total demand.16 Roskill reports that TiO2 pigment production is the most important consumer of worldwide feedstocks, accounting for 83% of production in 2015. Annual average growth in demand for feedstocks from the TiO2 pigment industry is forecast to grow 4.2% per year through 2025. Global feedstock production levels are expected to be slightly higher in 2016, increasing from the 2015 total of 7.56 Mt.
Feedstock production has increased by an average of 3% per year since 2005. Within this figure, synrutile and slag production has fallen, while rutile and ilmenite for direct use have grown more quickly.17
The estimated end-use distribution of domestic TiO2 pigment consumption in 2015 was: paint, 60%; plastic, 20%; paper, 12%; and other (including catalysts, ceramics, coating fabrics and textiles, floor coverings, printing ink, and roofing granules), 8%. U.S. production of TiO2 pigment declined by 7.9% in 2015, to 1.2 Mt. Exports also declined, by 4.4% to 655.000 t, while imports for consumption increased 8% to 242,000 t. Apparent consumption declined by 6.9% to 747,000 t.
16. Market Study: Pigments (published March 2016; $3,087), Ceresana, www.ceresana.com.
17. Titanium Minerals: Global Industry, Markets and Outlook (published July 2016), Roskill, www.roskill.com.