By Rhiannon Hoyle
Mineral-sands miner Iluka Resources Ltd. on Thursday reported a sharp jump in first-half mineral-sands sales versus a year ago, as demand recovered from pandemic-hit 2020 levels. Iluka is the world's largest producer of zircon, which makes ceramic products opaque. Here are some of its remarks on the markets:
On zircon demand:
"Demand for zircon remained strong throughout 1H 2021. Chinese tile production has returned to pre-pandemic levels, despite significant financial pressure caused by increased raw material costs and challenges associated with increasing tile prices to real estate developers. Tile production may have been stronger but for regions in Guangdong, Guangxi, and Yunnan experiencing power supply restrictions, limiting production. India's second wave of Covid-19 cases has stalled plans of ceramic tile makers as they look to commence production at a number of newly constructed plants. Tile production lines in Spain, Italy, Brazil, and Turkey are reported to be operating at 90% capacity."
On zircon prices:
"The weighted average zircon price achieved in 1H 2021 for premium and standard sand was $1,321 per [metric] ton, following a $70 per ton price increase effective April 1. The company announced a minimum price increase of $125 per ton effective July 1."
On titanium-dioxide demand:
"Demand from the titanium dioxide market was again robust, with numerous requests received during the quarter for additional volumes of high grade feedstock. Chlorine supply in the U.S. was constrained following outages from the winter storm season, along with spring flooding and planned permanent shutdowns of sub economic capacity by certain producers. As a result pigment producers have sought ways to boost head grades in order to minimize chlorine consumption and maximize throughput. The pull forward of volume in 2Q has reduced available inventory, and spot volumes appear to be scarce across the industry."
On titanium-dioxide prices:
"Pigment prices continue to move higher, with a new round of increases announced for July 1. Chinese prices have moved higher in each of the last eight months and appear to be stabilizing ahead of the summer holidays. Pigment consumers in China appear to be willing to wait until September to reassess their needs and determine how demand looks heading into the Northern Hemisphere autumn. The announcement of the potential suspension of operations at Sierra Rutile, coupled with violence at a major feedstock producer in South Africa, has created additional concern around future supply of feedstocks heading into the second half and beyond. As a result, pigment producers are seeking additional volumes ahead of any potential disruptions to supply. The welding market continues to perform well, with demand outstripping supply of feedstocks. Iluka announced a 9% price increase in this market for 3Q and is allocating volumes to welding customers."
Write to Rhiannon Hoyle at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires