Titanium is usually mined as the minerals ilmenite or rutile. Both ilmenite and rutile are dark coloured minerals which, with processing, become white and opaque.
Titanium feedstocks are characterised by two primary markets: the TiO2 pigment and the titanium metal sector.
The TiO2 pigment market accounts for 90% of global titanium consumption where it is used as a whitening pigment in paints, plastics and paper.
The remaining 10% of demand comes from titanium metal production.
Yarrabubba Ilmenite (YIP)
TMT produces an ilmenite product when processing ore from Yarrabubba.
The product is made from the beneficiation of the non-magnetic processing stream.
The grade is within range of commercial ilmenite currently used for sulfate pigment manufacturing.
TMT refers to this product as the Yarrabubba Ilmenite Product (YIP).
Figure 1. TMT will use gravity separation and magnetic beneficiation methods to produce the Yarrabubba ilmenite product.
Review of the Yarrabubba Ilmenite Product by leading industrial mineral specialists TZMI
TZMI review highlights:
Favourable Fe2O3, P2O5, SiO2 and U+Th – generally well below comparable products and would be considered favourably by some customers, particularly the very low Fe2O3
YIP suitable as a blending feedstock for sulfate pigment manufacture, complementing ilmenite feedstock with elevated Fe2O3.
TZMI indicated that most sulfate pigment producers do not rely on a single feedstock product, rather taking in a blend of feedstocks, providing an opportunity for YIP to be an attractive blend feedstock due its low levels of generally common deleterious elements.
TZMI estimates that Yarrabubba ilmenite will achieve a price of US$250-270/tonne FOB (July 2022).
TZMI believes that the saleability of the Yarrabubba product will not be an issue for indicative volumes of up to 160,000 tpa, with global consumption of sulfate ilmenite into the sulfate pigment market of approximately 7.5 million tonnes in 2020.