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09 2020
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Iluka zircon market views

Oct.19 2020      Source:Iluka


  Third quarter sales of 63 thousand tonnes were 22% higher than the same quarter last year (52 thousand tonnes) reflecting the continued modest recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 in key markets and regions. In China the ceramic industry activity continued to operate at an estimated 60% of 2019 operating rates, with lower quality tile producers facing intense competition from medium to higher quality tile makers and some production units having shut-down. Chinese tile exports remain impacted by trade restrictions and large producers are focusing on the domestic market with higher quality products to increase differentiation while maintaining the trend to reduce production costs. In Europe, India, and South America, the tile industry ramped-up production during Q3 and is now operating at an estimated 80-90% of last year’s operating rate, supported by exports and renovation activities in some markets.

  Outside ceramics, the foundry application has been the most affected by the economic downturn, despite some slight improvements in China and the US it is still operating at an estimated 60-70% of 2019 rates. The refractory market remained stable during the quarter although faced increased price pressure from downstream customers;

Similarly, the fused zirconia segment remained stable but with increased competition among producers. Some zirconium chemical producers implemented temporary shut-downs to reduce finished goods inventory following lower exports in the quarter. 

  September quarter sales volumes do not include two ZIC shipments that moved into October due to the late arrival of the vessel at the loading port. The higher proportion of ZIC will likely affect the weighted average zircon price in Q4, which together with Q1 are typically the lower demand periods of the year. 

  Zircon prices continue to remain relatively stable with the weighted average zircon sand (premium and standard) price in Q3 of US$1,311 per tonne down 3% from the first half 2020. 

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