Tiwest expansion gains final
The Tiwest Joint Venture partners, Tronox Inc, and Exxaro Resources Ltd yesterday announced that the boards of directors of both companies have given final approval for the expansion of the Tiwest titanium dioxide pigment plant in Kwinana, Western Australia, which was announced last year.With expectations for continued strong demand growth in the Asia-Pacific region, the expansion will allow Tiwest to capture future opportunities in this rapidly growing market. The project, which will increase the plant’s current annual capacity from 110,000 tonnes per year to around 150,000 tonnes per year, is expected to cost in the range of $100 million. Tiwest plans to begin construction during 2008, subject to appropriate regulatory approvals. The additional capacity is expected to come on line in early 2010.The joint venture partners have signed an agreement under which Exxaro will provide ongoing funding for the expansion. Tronox has the option to contribute its share of the capital at its discretion throughout the project and until a date two years from commissioning, which will be taken into account when calculating its final interest in the expanded production.The Kwinana plant, with a current annual capacity of 110,000 tonnes, produces chloride process titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigment using Tronox’s proprietary technology and marketed under the TRONOX® brand.“This expansion will provide us with the additional capacity needed to meet the future demands of our existing customers and prospective new customers in the Asia-Pacific region, which is projected to be the world’s largest pigment consuming region in 2008 and beyond,” said Tom Adams, Tronox chairman and chief executive officer.“The Tiwest development is an important contribution to Exxaro’s strategy of downstream value adding in our mineral sands business,” said Sipho Nkosi, Exxaro’s chief executive officer. Together with the South African east coast KZN Sands operation and the soon to be completed acquisition of the Namakwa Sands business on South Africa’s west coast, the combined developments position Exxaro as a major supplier to the titanium and zircon industries.