Ilmenite Supply Chain - Executive Summary


Raw Material


Source of Raw Material:
Naturally occurring ore

^ Derivative Water Treatment Chemicals:
Ferric Chloride Ferrous Sulfate

% of Total Domestic Consumption
Attributed to Water Sector:

Less than 1%

Understanding Chemical Supply Chains

Product Family:

CAS No.: 12168-52-4

2 Shelf Life:
60+ Months

— RISK OF SUPPLY DISRUPTION (Assessed in 2022)


te-l-ow Moderate


Production of titanium dioxide
is the primary (90%) domestic
use of ilmenite. Fluctuations in
use of titanium dioxide may
drive domestic demand for
ilmenite. Supply of ilmenite is
heavily dependent on imports,
for which there is considerable
international competition. Im-
ports are primarily from a se-
lect number of countries.


Criticality: Moderate-Low. Iron chlorides
produced as a byproduct of processing
ilmenite can be used to manufacture
ferric chloride and ferrous sulfate.
Likelihood: Low. No identified ilmenite
supply disruptions between 2000 and

Vulnerability: Moderate-Low. The U.S. is
heavily reliant on imports of ilmenite,
however, there are numerous sources of


Water Treatment Applications



Water treatment chemical production

Other Applications

Input	End Use

•	Titanium dioxide

•	Chemical manufacturing

•	Titanium metal and alloys

•	Welding-rod coating


Domestic Production Locations (2019):

4 locations in Florida, Georgia, and South

 International Trade (2019)

Primary Trading Partner (Imports): Madagascar

Primary Trading Partner (Exports): China

Domestic Consumption (2019):
1,157 M kg

Domestic Production (100 M kg)
¦ Imports for Consumption (1,069 M kg)
Export of Domestic Production (12 M kg)


Ilmenite Supply Chain - Full Profile

Product Description

Ilmenite (FeTi03), an iron-oxide mineral, is the most common form of titanium-bearing minerals processed for
titanium dioxide and titanium metal. Ilmenite accounts for more than 93% of processed titanium ore, and thus
information for titanium ores is presented in the profile to represent the specific mineral ilmenite (Woodruff et
al., 2017). Though ilmenite is not used directly in water treatment, iron chlorides produced as a byproduct of
mineral processing can serve as a raw material in the production of ferric chloride and ferrous sulfate.

Use in Water Treatment

Use as a Precursor to Other Water Treatment Chemicals

Iron chlorides, which may be used to produce ferric chloride, are produced as a byproduct of ilmenite processing
when chlorination is used in the process of acid leaching to recover titanium dioxide. When the sulfate process is
used to process titanium ores, ferrous sulfate is produced as a waste stream and can be captured for uses such
as water treatment.

Other Applications

Use of titanium ores and concentrates is largely tied to production of titanium dioxide. All applications require
processing and refining of the ore. Domestically, the majority of titanium mineral concentrates are consumed by
titanium dioxide pigment producers, which apply titanium dioxide as a pigment in paints, paper, rubber, plastics,
fabrics, and food. Titanium ores and concentrates are also used in manufacturing carbides and other titanium-
based chemicals, titanium metal for use in aerospace and other industries, and welding-rod coating (USGS 2021;
USGS 2022).

Primary Industrial Consumers

In 2019, approximately 90% of titanium ores and concentrates consumed in the U.S. were used in the
production of titanium dioxide, while the remaining 10% were used in manufacturing of carbides and other
chemicals, titanium metal, and welding-rod coatings (USGS, 2020).

Manufacturing, Transport, & Storage

Manufacturing Process

Deposits of titanium ores are found throughout the world, primarily in the form of ilmenite, but also less
commonly as rutile and leucoxene. Ilmenite accounts for approximately 93% of worldwide titanium mineral
production. Ilmenite, an iron oxide, typically contains between 40% and 65% titanium dioxide. Ilmenite is
generally mined from surface or near-surface deposits, though location and composition are deposit-dependent
and impact beneficiation processes. There are numerous processes, including gravity, magnetic, and
electrostatic separation, and flotation that may be used to process and upgrade ilmenite. Pretreatment of
ilmenite is required for enhanced leaching of titanium dioxide, as ilmenite contains significant quantities of iron
that must be removed. Strong acid leaching, with either sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid is the primary method
to separate the iron and other impurities and recover high-grade titanium dioxide.

The primary domestic process for titanium dioxide recovery is the chloride process, or less commonly the sulfate
process. The chloride process begins with roasting of ilmenite with gaseous chlorine in a fluidized bed in the
presence of petroleum coke as a reducing agent. The titanium tetrachloride is separated from other impurities
and oxidized to titanium dioxide or reduced to titanium sponge metal. As the ilmenite is reacted with the
chlorine and coke, gaseous iron chlorides, which are later condensed as a liquid, are produced. If low-grade

EPA 817-F-22-031 | December 2022


11 me n ite Supply Chain - Full Profile

ilmenite is used, a subsequent step of hydrochloric acid leaching may take place to recover higher grade
titanium dioxide. The chloride-ilmenite process yields enriched ilmenite ore with a high percentage of titanium
dioxide as well as an acidic ferric chloride solution. In the sulfate process, smelted ilmenite is digested with
sulfuric acid and hydrolyzed to produce and precipitate titanium dioxide hydrate. A waste stream of ferrous
sulfate and sulfuric acid is separated through filtration (El Khalloufi et al., 2021; EPA, 1998; EPA, 2001; NCBI,
2022; USGS, 2021; USGS 2022).

Product Transport

Titanium ore is widely transported by ship, rail, and truck (Woodruff et al., 2017).

Storage and Shelf Life

Ilmenite is stable and non-reactive over a wide range of temperatures. When stored properly and kept dry,
ilmenite can have a shelf life in excess of 60 months (MSR, 2019).

Domestic Production & Consumption

Domestic Production

Production data was collected from USGS, while trade data was collected from the U.S. International Trade
Commission (USITC) Dataweb, as shown in Table 1. Production data is specific to ilmenite; however trade data
are generalized to titanium ores and concentrates. Ilmenite accounts for approximately 93% of worldwide
titanium mineral production.

Table 1. Titanium Ores and Concentrates Production and Trade Data Sources

Production and Trade Data


Data Source



Domestic Production

U.S. Geological Survey

CAS No.: 12168-52-4


Imports and Exports

U.S. International Trade Commission

HTS Code: 2614.00

Titanium Ores and

Total U.S. domestic production of titanium ores and concentrates was approximately 100 million kg (M kg) in
2019 (USGS, 2021). While the U.S. does have a relatively large amount of titanium-bearing deposits and
resources, the larger titanium deposits do not have high industrial value, as their mineralogy, location, and
possible presence of unfavorable trace constituents makes processing economically unfeasible. As a result, the
U.S. has had a net reliance on imports for many years. In 2019 there were four active domestic titanium mineral
concentrate production locations in the U.S. in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina (USGS 2020; Woodruff et al.,

Domestic Consumption

U.S. consumption of titanium ores and concentrates in 2019 is estimated at 1,157 M kg. This estimate includes
production of 100 M kg, import of 1,069 M kg, and export of 12 M kg (USGS, 2021), as shown in Figure 1.



11 me n ite Supply Chain - Full Profile

e Domestic Consumption (2019):

1,157 M kg

¦	Domestic Production (100 M kg)

¦	Imports for Consumption (1,069 M kg)

¦	Export of Domestic Production (12 M kg)

Figure 1. Domestic Production and Consumption of Titanium Ores and Concentrates in 2019

Trade &Ta riffs

Worldwide Trade

Worldwide import and export data for titanium ores and concentrates are reported through the World Bank's
World Integrated Trade Solutions (WITS) software, as a category for titanium ores and concentrates. In 2021,
the U.S. ranked 16th worldwide in total exports and second in total imports of titanium ores and concentrates. In
2021, Mozambique ranked first worldwide in total exports and China ranked first worldwide in total imports
(WITS, 2022), as shown in Table 2. While China was the leading titanium ores and concentrates producing nation
in 2021, it consumes a significant quantity of domestic production and historically has imported significant
quantities from Mozambique and Australia (USGS, 2021).

Table 2. WITS Worldwide Export and Import of Titanium Ores and Concentrates in 2021

2021 Worldwide Trade
Titanium Ores and Concentrates (HS Code 2614.00)

Top 5 Worldwide Exporters

Top 5 Worldwide Importers


1,253 M kg


3,795 M kg

South Africa

672 M kg

United States

985 M kg


588 M kg


553 M kg


582 M kg


381 M kg


549 M kg


344 M kg

Domestic Imports and Exports

Domestic import and export data are reported by USITC in categories for titanium ores and concentrates. Figure
2 summarizes imports for consumption1 and domestic exports2 of titanium ores and concentrates between 2015
and 2020. During this period, the overall quantity of imports varied, with a high in 2017. The volume of exports,
considerably smaller than the volume of imports, increased from 2 M kg to 28 M kg over the five-year period.
Over this five-year period, China took the place of Mexico to become the primary recipients of domestic exports
while the primary source of imports shifted from Australia to Madagascar and Mozambique, with Australia and
South Africa continuing to supply significant quantities (USITC, 2021).

1	Imports for consumption are a subset of general imports, representing the total amount cleared through customs and entering
consumption channels, not anticipated to be reshipped to foreign points, but may include some reexports.

2	Domestic exports are a subset of total exports, representing export of domestic merchandise which are produced or manufactured in
the U.S. and commodities of foreign origin which have been changed in the U.S.



11 me n ite Supply Chain - Full Profile

_ 800


5 600



omestic Trade of Titanium Ores and Concentrate
HS Code 2614.00
























11 me n ite Supply Chain - Full Profile

Risk = Criticality x Likelihood x Vulnerability
Criticality Measure of the importance of a chemical to the water sector

Likelihood Measure of the probability that the chemical will experience a supply disruption in the
future, which is estimated based on past occurrence of supply disruptions

Vulnerability Measure of the market dynamics that make a chemical market more or less resilient to
supply disruptions

The individual parameter rating is based on evaluation of one or more attributes of the chemical or its supply
chain. The ratings and drivers for these three risk parameters are shown below in Table 4.

Table 4. Supply Chain Risk Evaluation for llmenite

Risk Parameter Ratings and Drivers


1 Likelihood Low

Iron chlorides, which are a byproduct
of ilmenite processing, may be used to
produce ferric chloride and ferrous
sulfate. However, production by this
method is not a common a source of
iron oxides for North American

There were no identified disruptions
in the supply of ilmenite between
2000 and 2022.

The U.S. is a net importer of ilmenite,
however there are numerous sources
of imports, which provides some
resilience to supply disruptions.
Consumption of titanium dioxide
dominates domestic demand for

Risk Rating: Low

ie-Low Modern


El Khalloufi, M., Drevelle, O. and Soucy, G., 2021. Titanium: An Overview of Resources and Production
Methods. Minerals, 11(12): 1425.

EPA, 1998. Identification and Description of Mineral Processing Sectors and Waste Streams, retrieved from
EPA, 2001. Final Titanium Dioxide Listing Background Document for the Inorganic Chemical Listing
Determination, retrieved from
EPA, 2022. Understanding Water Treatment Chemical Supply Chains and the Risk of Disruptions, retrieved



11 me n ite Supply Chain - Full Profile

Mineral Sands Resources (MSR), 2019. Safety Data Sheet for llmenite, retrieved from 2-

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2022. PubChem Compound Summary for CID 159436,
llmenite, retrieved from

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), 2020. Mineral commodity Summaries for Titanium Mineral Concentrates,
retrieved from

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), 2021. Mineral commodity Summaries for Titanium Mineral Concentrates,
retrieved from

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), 2022. 2018 Minerals Yearbook: Titanium, retrieved from

U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), 2021. USITC DataWeb search, retrieved from

U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), 2022. Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) search, retrieved from

World Integrated Trade Solutions (WITS), 2022. Trade Statistics by Product (HS 6-digit), retrieved from

Woodruff, L.G., Bedinger, G.M., and Piatak, N.M., 2017, Titanium, Chapter T of Schulz, K.J., DeYoung, J.H., Jr.,
Seal, R.R., II, and Bradley, D.C., eds., Critical mineral resources of the United States—Economic and
environmental geology and prospects for future supply: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1802,
p. T1-T23, retrieved from https://pubs.usgs.gOv/pp/1802/t/ppl802t.pdf