Zircon sand in short supply following the closure of RBM plant

The availability of zircon sand for the production of zirconium chemicals is tightening considerably following the closure of RBM's plant in South Africa at the end of May due to escalating violence in the region. This has been followed by a Force Majeure announcement in June and a furnace shut off in July due to the depleting stockpile of feedstock from the mine.

RBM's zircon supply makes up a large part of the feedstock for the production of zirconium chemicals in China, where more than 80% of world production now takes place. Over recent years the other major supply, Iluka Resources, have channeled most of their premium grade zircon into the ceramics industry.

With a greater dependence on the Chinese spot market, the price has increased by more than 50% so far in Q3 with prices now at USD 2500/mt - 2800/mt FOB China. These are levels not seen since the peak in 2011 and they are likely to run further.

This increase in zircon sand pricing means the price of zirconium chemicals and zirconium oxides have been increasing quickly in the last month with producers offering quote validity of 1 week.

Date : 11-08-2021

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