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09 2020
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Iluka zircon market views

Jan.29 2021      Source:Iluka


  Total zircon sand sales for 2020 were 187 thousand tonnes, broadly in line with the 191 thousand tonnes sold in 2019. This result reflects a modest rebound from the initial impact of COVID-19 related disruptions early in the year. While activity in most end markets remains below previous years, improvement was discernible over the course of 2020, with increased purchasing most evident in the fourth quarter – a traditionally subdued sales period.

  In China, the ceramics industry continued to operate at approximately 60% capacity, reflecting in part a reduced demand for exported tiles. However, opacified demand appears to have stabilised with increased use in higher-end large format tiles offsetting some declining use in lower quality products. Tile manufacturer operating rates improved across India, Europe, and South America. Demand for frits, glazes, and inks from consumers based in Castellon, Spain, the world’s most concentrated group of manufacturers, continued to outperform other markets during the quarter, despite regional COVID-19 impacts. 

  Fused zirconia markets remain stable. Foundries in China reported receiving fresh orders, while refractory markets were steady. Zircon chemicals markets in China are mixed, with increased exports, while domestic demand remains subdued. As foreshadowed in the September Quarterly Review, ZIC sales during Q4 were higher due to two shipments rolling over from Q3. 

  Zircon prices were maintained across the quarter, with the weighted average price of zircon sand (premium and standard) US$1,291 per tonne. The weighted average zircon price for 2020 was US$1,319 per tonne, down only 11% from 2019, a solid result given market conditions and reflective of Iluka’s market discipline.

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