The Zaporizhzhia Titanium-Magnesium Plant developed a new form of refinement

The Zaporizhzhia Titanium-Magnesium Plant developed a new form of refinement
Photo: Ivan Chernichkin

As a source of the ZTMP informed Capital, the enterprise has launched the production of titanium ingots and slabs. It produced 90 t of these products in a more thorough format of refinement. “For the future we are considering the expansion of production to 12,000 t a year,” Director of ZTMP Volodymyr Sivak informed. He said the enterprise also mastered the technology of production of alloys, including oxygen-based titanium and aluminum. “As market research showed, these products are in greatest demand among consumers,” the ZTMP director specified. While former managers of the plant spoke about ingots production back in early 2000, today slabs are indeed a new product for the enterprise after titanium sponges and ingots. Dmytro Firtash controls 49% of ZTMP through the Tolexis Trading company. His company invested UAH 12.4 mn to purchase equipment for the production of titanium ingots.

New markets

By organizing the industrial production of the new products, Group DF, which manages the titanium business of Firtash entered a new market with huge prospects and will certainly gain a comfortable niche on it, according to Group DF representatives.
The company calculated that no more than 200,000 t of this product is manufactured in the world. It turns out that the 90 t of ingots and slab produced over a few days have already given ZTMP the possibility to vie for a share of almost 0.05% on the new market.

At this moment, this is not such an attractive figure for Ukraine’s capacities in the production of titanium, experts say, however it opens new horizons for our producers. “It is difficult to say at the moment that the attempts of Ukrainian titanium producers can disturb its rivals, but with geopolitical support we can gain an opportunity to initiate new schemes of work by attracting big money to the sector through the sale of products to European countries and the U.S.,” Director of the Risk Management Department of the Integrities company Yevhen Tymoshenko told Capital.

In his opinion, given the considerable increase in the added value, guaranteed by the new refinement of the titanium, the industry may become one of the flagships of the Ukrainian economy similarly to that of Russia.

Competitors’ opinions

As it turned out, the global market of metallurgical titanium is practically closed from society. At the very least, the value of contracts for the delivery of this product is not being disclosed, though it is known that only a few countries – Russia, the U.S., China, Australia and India – are the key players.

The state company Avisma represents Russia on the global market. As the press service of the Russian company told Capital, it does not view the Zaporizhzhia plant with its new capacities as a competitor on the world market. “The abovementioned products that the enterprises began producing are in the first grade refinement category. Avisma puts out products of higher technology of the second grade refinement – rolled steel, pipes and other products,” explained representatives of the company.

At the same time, in 2011 the company Smartora Trading affiliated with Group DF acquired 32.68% of Tifast Srl, and Italian company that produces titanium ingots and rolled steel. This asset allowed the businessman to ensure access to the European market. Seeing as Tifast Srl has the capacity to produce titanium products for European consumers, ruling out the possibility of competition with Avisma was not fair. The capacities of the Italian plants allowed it to produce 2,000 t of high-grade titanium products per year.

In the end, the issue of control over the sources of raw materials in the titanium industry, namely the Irshansk Ore Enrichment Plant and the Volnohirskiy Ore Metallurgy Plant, which are leased by the companies controlled by Firtash, has yet to be resolved. By the way, they supply raw materials to Avisma. If ZTMP and Tifast Srl begin developing the output of ingots, slabs and other titanium products, the supply of raw materials to Russia will considerably decrease.

Crisis will make the battle tougher

So far, a decrease in demand has been observed on the titanium market, experts noted. On the one hand, the market continues to grow, while on the other hand, the growth is slowing down. For example, over the period 2010-2014, the market grew by 10,000 t per year, said Tymoshenko. However, experts forecast that over the next 5-7 years this indicator will decrease to 5,000 t a year or less. “As a result, by 2020 the consumption of titanium products will not hurdle the benchmark of 190,000 t due to the crisis and overproduction,” the expert believes.

He says the current output of titanium raw materials, semi-finished products and alloys is the work aimed at fulfilling the contracts that were signed earlier, while in later periods, on the contrary, point to reduction of the orders. The airspace and defense industries will hardly be able to achieve the traditional 70,000 orders in the nearest years. This significantly aggravates the competition between companies for every sold tonne of titanium products, the analyst presumes. One can only hope that Ukraine manages to at least make its mark on this particular market.

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