Iluka Resources, a leading mineral sands company, has announced an 8.1% combined increase in the production of zircon, rutile, and synthetic rutile for the year 2023. However, the company experienced a decline in mineral sands sales and revenue due to subdued markets. In their fourth-quarter production report, Iluka Resources shared some insights on the current state of the markets they operate in.
Titanium Dioxide Feedstocks
There are positive signs of improvement in the titanium dioxide market. Customers reported better sales volumes of pigment in December, and downstream inventories of pigment are currently at minimal levels. As a result, pigment consumers are seeking to replenish their stocks as they head into 2024. In anticipation of a return to normalized demand patterns, pigment producers are increasing plant operating rates.
Iluka Resources remains committed to adapting to market conditions and making strategic decisions to navigate these challenging times.
European Union Anti-dumping Investigation
The European Union initiated an investigation in November 2023 concerning titanium dioxide products, specifically titanium pigment, that are being imported from China. The purpose of this investigation is to determine whether anti-dumping measures need to be implemented. The potential outcome of this investigation could lead to a surge in demand for domestically produced pigment within the region.
The investigation is expected to conclude within a period of 14 months. It is also possible that provisional measures may be enforced in the near future.
During the fourth quarter of 2023, the Jacinth-Ambrosia mine located in South Australia generated a total of 91,000 tons of heavy mineral concentrate (HMC). This figure decreased slightly compared to the previous quarter’s production of 101,000 tons. The decline can be attributed to a lower mined ore grade during this period, which aligns with the predetermined mining sequence.
In Western Australia, the Cataby mine consistently yielded 112,000 tons of HMC, maintaining the same production level as the previous quarter. In December, a new mining unit was installed and successfully commissioned. Furthermore, an additional mining unit is scheduled for delivery during the first quarter of 2024.
Synthetic Rutile Production
Production at SR1 was temporarily paused in early October due to the planned major maintenance outage taking place at the SR2 kiln. This maintenance operation has been ongoing for four months and is anticipated to conclude soon. Consequently, contracted synthetic rutile sales volumes were met from available inventory throughout the quarter.
Iluka’s Approach to the High Grade Feedstocks Market
Iluka is committed to adopting a disciplined approach in the high grade feedstocks market, ensuring that unnecessary inventory of these valuable resources is not built up. This strategic focus allows Iluka to effectively manage its operations and respond to market conditions.
Temporary Closure of SR1
As part of this approach, Iluka has made the decision to temporarily halt the operations of SR1 until market conditions warrant the demand for additional synthetic rutile. This prudent move ensures that Iluka’s resources are utilized efficiently and aligns with its disciplined approach.
Planned Restart of SR2
However, Iluka plans to restart the production at SR2 at the end of January 2024 as scheduled. The restart will be supported by take-or-pay contracts, further reinforcing Iluka’s commitment to reliable production and delivery of high grade feedstocks.
By adhering to this well-considered strategy, Iluka remains a key player in the market for high grade feedstocks, consistently meeting the demands of its customers.
- Contact Rhiannon Hoyle for more information.