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Titanium Market Remains Cyclical

Aug 31, 2007
One of the main reasons preventing from further Titanium distribution is its high cost. Apart from that, cyclical character of the aircraft industry also affects Ti application.

Economic state in major application areas, esp. aerospace industry, significantly affects titanium market thus leading to its thoroughly cyclical character. In 1958, demand for titanium dropped off significantly because the military shifted its focus from manned aircraft to missiles for which steel was more appropriate. Since then, the titanium industry has had various cycles of high and low demand. The Asian financial crisis in the late 90ies drastically affected titanium demand and manufacture. The year of 2001 witnessed revival heavily impeded by world economy slowdown.

Today, about 80% of titanium is used by the aerospace industry and 20% by non-aerospace industries. According to Roskill, the commercial aerospace industries in the USA and Europe are recovering strongly, and aerospace demand for high-grade titanium and titanium alloy mill products is growing at about 7% per year. While the U.S. airline industry has been in rough shape for quite some time especially after 9/11 terrorist attack, international airlines are ordering a lot of new planes now.

In the next ten years, the titanium industry could continue to expand driven by increased titanium consumption which is likely to remain stable until 2015.

The world fleet of passenger aircraft is forecast to double by 2025, and the new large passenger jets will use much higher proportions of titanium than current aircraft. The soaring cost of oil in recent years has encouraged orders for more fuel-efficient planes built with titanium.

Paint and varnish industry, which is not the main but rather stable Ti-consuming sector, will demonstrate growth in the demand for titanium products. Global titanium demand, paced by strong markets across the spectrum of commercial aerospace, defense and industrial-consumer markets, is expected to build on its recent growth, both in the near term and deep into the next decade. According to some experts, worldwide Ti demand will grow to over 300 million pounds by 2015.

Good prospects for Ti use exist on the Japanese market of sports equipment. The market for medical products has become a stable application area for titanium. More than 1000mt of titanium is annually used in implants. According to Titanium Information Group (UK), titanium has found wide application in medicine due to its corrosion-free nature and bio-compatibility with human tissues. The application of titanium in dentistry has tripled to 2000mt/y over the recent years, experts from the American Dental Association say.

Japan has been utilizing titanium in architecture and construction for 25 years. Titanium application in these fields has been growing not only in Japan. UAE's new airport uses 1.5mln pounds of titanium. Titanium-employing facilities are being constructed in Switzerland, Singapore, Egypt, USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Belgium, Peru.

In 2006, titanium capacity in the CIS countries is estimated at 63.5K mt/y, which accounts for 46.4% of global capacity. Three countries, Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, feature Ti capacities. The main consumers of titanium feedstock worldwide are producers of titanium dioxide, which accounts for 95% of demand. In the CIS countries the situation is different: about 65% of concentrate is used for the production of titanium sponge.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union Russia has lost the mineral reserves base of its titanium industry, since the deposits under exploration were situated in Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Apart from that, TiO2 production facilities were concentrated in Ukraine. The demand for titanium dioxide has been growing thanks to the expansion of many industries, primarily paint and varnish industry. Besides, the current global market behavior also spurs the interest towards this product.

Thus, the creation of the large domestic TiO2 production facility is on the current agenda for Russia. The target is to eliminate the dependence of Russia upon the TiO2 imports. The first step towards the realization of this goal is to originate own TiO2-related mining and feedstock basis.
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