Development of China’s titanium dioxide industry Copy1
Click:0    DateTime:Mar.11,2024

By Tian Yan and Zhang Junyi, China National Chemical Information Center

Supply and demand

Growing 7% annually during 2019-2022, China’s output of titanium dioxide rose to 3.86 million tons in 2022, when domestic operating rate was 79% and capacity made up the world’s 52%, equivalent to 4.87 million t/a (see Figure 1 for more details). In 2022, China – the largest producer as well as the biggest exporter of titanium dioxide in the world – exported 1.41 million tons of titanium dioxide, accounting for 37% of domestic output. The export volume has increased rapidly from 2019 to 2022, with an average annual growth rate of 12%.


Figure 1 China’s supply of and demand for titanium dioxide during 2019-2022

China currently has 43 titanium dioxide producers, with the top 5 holding 46% of total capacity and the top 10 providing 70% of total output (see Figure 2 for more details). China consumed 2.57 million tons of titanium dioxide in 2022, and, in the same year, imported only 120 000 tons, mainly high-end products (see Figure 3 for more details).


Figure 2 Titanium dioxide capacity proportion of domestic producers in 2022


Figure 3 Consumption proportion of titanium dioxide in China in 2022

Production technologies

Among China’s existing 43 titanium dioxide producers, 37 companies employ sulfuric acid process, two (Zhongxin Titanium Industry Co., Ltd. and Yibin Tianyuan Haifeng Hetai Co., Ltd.) select chlorination process, three (LB Group Co., Ltd., Pangang Group Vanadium Titanium and Resources Co., Ltd. and Shandong Lubei Chemical Co., Ltd.) use both of the two processes, and only Fujian Kuncai Material Technology Co., Ltd. adopts hydrochloric acid process.

With an average annual growth rate of 5% from 2019 to 2022, output of titanium dioxide made by sulfuric acid process reached 3.36 million tons in 2022, accounting for 87% of the domestic total; output of titanium dioxide produced by chlorination process – soaring 21% annually in the same period – contributed 497 000 tons, or 13%, to the nation’s total (see Figure 4 for more details).


Figure 4 China’s capacity and output of titanium dioxide from 2019 to 2022 

(by processes)

Raw materials

China has the highest proved reserves of titanium ore, around 215 million tons, 99% of which are titanic iron ore and 1% is rutile. To manufacture titanium dioxide, most domestic firms utilize sulfuric acid method to process titanic iron ore, processing around 8.55 million tons – mainly domestic products – in 2022, when imported titanic iron ore was still needed. Chlorination process can hardly develop in China, given its high requirements on raw materials and short supply of qualified raw materials.

Domestic output of natural rutile is very low, and artificial rutile production remains at a pilot stage. The world’s annual yield of natural rutile is around 150 000-200 000 tons, and that of artificial rutile around 1 million tons, with production techniques owned by a handful of firms, which, in most cases, will not transfer these technologies.

Domestic titanium dioxide enterprises are developing high titanium slag, in an attempt to solve problems such as a large amount of wastes facing producers utilizing sulfuric acid process, tight supply of raw materials facing those choosing chlorination process, etc. However, high titanium slag manufactured by domestic titanium ore – with relatively high content of calcium oxide and magnesium oxide – could hardly meet raw material standards of titanium dioxide. Hence, it fails to replace titanium ore to become major raw materials of titanium dioxide. In 2022, the domestic titanium dioxide industry consumed 776 000 tons of high titanium slag, only 9% of titanic iron ore utilized by the industry.

Industry policies

The government encourages titanium dioxide producers to optimize their product mix. Titanium dioxide projects with a capacity of less than 30 000 t/a and sulfuric acid process are restricted. Table 1 shows China’s main titanium dioxide related policies. 


Ongoing and proposed projects

According to public information, there are 11 titanium dioxide projects under construction or planning, boasting a combined capacity of 3.66 million t/a, more specifically 1.86 million t/a involving chlorination process, 700 000 t/a sulfuric acid process, and 1.1 million t/a hydrochloric acid process (see Table 2 for more details).


Development trends

Coatings account for 60%-70% of titanium dioxide consumption, plastics 20% and papermaking 10%. Figure 5 shows domestic supply of and demand for titanium dioxide from 2022 to 2030. In the next 10 years, domestic titanium dioxide consumption is forecast to be up 4.5% annually, export volume up 3.5% annually, and import volume may hover at around 200 000 tons a year. Continuing expansion is likely to result in overcapacity of titanium dioxide. Sulfuric acid process will remain as the most important way to make titanium dioxide, but the capacity proportion of chlorination and hydrochloric acid processes will improve, especially that of chlorination process, which may increase to sulfuric acid process’s level at most. 


    Figure 5 China’s supply of and demand for titanium dioxide from 2022 to 2030