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- CRB Fundamentals - 2008 Commodity Articles


Titanium (symbol Ti) is a silver-white, metallic element used primarily to make light, strong alloys. It ranks ninth in abundance among the elements in the crust of the earth but is never found in the pure state. It occurs as an oxide in various minerals. It was first discovered in 1791 by Rev. William Gregor and was first isolated as a basic element in 1910. Titanium was named after the mythological Greek god Titan for its strength.

Titanium is extremely brittle when cold, but is malleable and ductile at a low red heat, and thus easily fabricated. Due to its strength, low weight, and resistance to corrosion, titanium is used in metallic alloys and as a substitute for aluminum. It is used extensively in the aerospace industry, in desalinization plants, construction, medical implants, paints, pigments, and lacquers.

Prices - The price of the mineral ilmenite, a primary source of titanium, in 2006 (latest data available) traded unchanged from last year in the range of $75-$85 per metric ton versus. The price of titanium metal sponge traded in the range of $5.87-$12.84 per pound in 2006 versus $3.46-$12.22 in 2005. The price of titanium dioxide pigments (Anatase) in 2005 (latest data available) traded in the range of $.95-$1.00 per pound versus 90-95 cents per pound in 2004.

Supply - World production of titanium ilmenite concentrates in 2006 rose +10.0% to 6.700 million metric tons, to post a new record high. The world's largest producers of titanium ilmenite concentrates are Australia with 35% of world production in 2006, China (15%), Norway (13%), Vietnam (9%), and India ( 9%).

World production of titanium rutile concentrates in 2006 rose +37.0% yr/yr to 511,000 metric tons, but remains below the record high of 545,000 metric tons seen in 1994. The world's largest producers are Australia with 46% of world production in 2006 followed by South Africa with 24%.

Demand - U.S. consumption of titanium dioxide pigment in 2007 was unchanged yr/yr at 1.110 million metric tons, down from 2004's record high of 1.170 million metric tons. U.S. consumption of ilmenite in 2005 (latest data available) fell -12.8% to 1.290 million metric tons, down from 2004's 8-year high of 1.480 million metric tons. U.S. consumption of rutile in 2005 fell 4.7% yr/yr to a 7-year low of 424,000 metric tons.

Trade - U.S. imports of titanium dioxide pigment in 2007 fell by 9.7% to 260,000 metric tons, down from the 2005 record high of 341,000 metric tons. U.S. imports of ilmenite in 2005 (latest data available) rose +17.3% yr/yr to 822,000 metric tons. U.S. imports of rutile in 2005 rose +1.7% yr/yr to 366,000 metric tons.

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