By Emma Cox
Russian titanium giant OAO VSMPO-AVISMA is looking to boost its yearly titanium output to 40,000 metric tons from just 30,000 tons by 2020, chief executive Mikhail Voevodin revealed on Wednesday.
In a report on Bloomberg, Voevodin said the company “continues” to purchase ilmenite from Ukraine, which it is heavily dependent on, but has also started to import ilmenite from Australia as well. The company stated that it currently possesses reserves of 55,000 tons, enough for eight months of uninterrupted work.
In an earlier statement from its parent company Rostec last June, Voevodin noted the abundance of ilmenite in the market due to Australia, as well as African and Vietnamese companies. The company maintained, however, that Russia has enough deposit in the Altai Mountains which will ensure VSMPO-AVISMA’s independence from overseas sources of raw materials.
“We could possibly find alternative sources of raw materials from Vietnam or Africa, for example. Due to logistics, African raw materials are one-and-a-half times more expensive,” Voevodin said.
“However, this will not lead to a serious increase in the cost of titanium sponge, because within the corporation ilmenite accounts for only 2 percent of total costs,” he added.
A report on RusBusinessNews revealed that the company’s output of titanium products climbed 1.4 percent to 29,264 tons. It added that the company spent over 5 billion rubles on its investment program, and 360 million rubles “for scientific research and development work.”
RusBusinessNews also reported that the State Expertize Agency of the Sverdlovsk region has greenlighted the construction of the company’s Forging Mechanical Conversion Industrial Complex, which it estimates will be finished by the end of the year.
Although not yet on VSMPO-AVISMA’s radar, Chile is also one emerging source of high grade rutile, which is used as titanium feedstock for the production of paints and pigments.
One company operating in the country for instance, White Mountain Titanium Corporation (OTCQB:WMTM), is currently conducting explorations on a rutile property in the Atacama region of Santiago, Chile. According to the company, three out of its nine targets at its Cerro Blanco asset in the said region possess rutile resources estimated at 112 million tons at a 0.5 percent cut-off grade.
The company noted that the site has a capacity of 80,000 tons of high grade rutile concentrate annually that could eventually increase to 130,000 tons during the fourth year of production via a open pit mining and a milling/flotation processing plant program.
VSMPO-AVISMA is the world’s largest manufacturer of titanium ingots and semi-finished titanium alloys.