Deteriorating situation in Ukraine exacerbates tight titanium supply - Shandong Jiugang Tisco Steel Co., Ltd.

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Deteriorating situation in Ukraine exacerbates tight titanium supply

Deteriorating situation in Ukraine exacerbates tight titanium supply

Potential disruptions to Russian merchandise exports have brought titanium, a metal used in the aerospace, marine and automotive industries, into focus.

After the Russian-Ukrainian military conflict, the United States and Europe imposed financial sanctions on Russian banks, individuals and other entities. Sanctions have yet to be imposed on Russian goods exporters such as VSMPO-Avisma, which supplies titanium to aircraft makers such as Boeing and Airbus.

However, the Western Union’s removal of some Russian banks from the System for International Funds Settlement (SWIFT) may affect the country’s export supply of goods and may also suspend the flow of containers in and out of Russia.

Where does titanium come from?

Titanium minerals are used to make titanium sponge, which in turn produces metals for industrial use.

According to data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the global output of titanium sponge in 2020 is 210,000 tons, and China is the world’s largest producer of titanium sponge, accounting for 57% of the world’s output.

According to USGS data, Japan ranks second, accounting for nearly 17%, followed by Russia, with a market share of nearly 13%. Kazakhstan produced 16,000 tons, and Ukraine produced 3,700 tons.

Russia’s titanium ore reserves are not high.

“In 2021, Ukraine will be the main importer of Russian titanium concentrates,” USGS said. “Other major countries include Vietnam, Mozambique and Kazakhstan”.

The USGS estimates that Ukraine produced 525,000 tonnes of titanium concentrate last year.

Who imports titanium?

According to the British Commodity Research Institute (CRU), China was the largest importer of titanium sponge last year, and the import volume increased from 6,000 tons in 2020 to more than 16,000 tons.

The second largest importer is the United States, with imports falling from 19,000 tons in 2020 to 16,000 tons last year.

Japan is the country that exports the most titanium sponge to China and the United States. Last year, it exported 8,000 tons and 14,000 tons respectively.

“Last year’s recovery in the construction and aviation industries led to a sharp rise in post-pandemic titanium product demand,” CRU analysts said.

The tight supply of titanium is reflected in the price of titanium sponge. Since the end of December, the price of titanium sponge has increased by nearly 9% and is currently about US$9/kg.

What is the use of titanium?

In the aerospace industry, titanium is used to make landing gear, blades and turbine disks. In the marine industry, titanium sheets are used to make ships and submarines. In the automotive sector, it is used in internal combustion engine components.

In chemical processing, titanium can prevent fatigue and cracking. In e-cigarettes, titanium wire is used to improve safety and control issues. In sports, titanium is used to make golf club heads.

In the medical industry, titanium is also used in joint replacements and dental implants because its density is similar to that of human bone.

Why does titanium get its name?

The name titanium comes from the Titans in Greek mythology, and the abundance of this metal in the earth’s crust is 0.6%.

Titanium is a hard, strong, lightweight metal with extraordinary corrosion resistance. Titanium is as strong as steel but 45% lighter.

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