Ilmenite and rutile are currently the most important titanium-bearing minerals, although anatase may be important in the future. Both ilmenite and rutile occur in hard-rock and placer deposits, but at present all rutile production and about half of the ilmenite production are from placer deposits. Anatase occurs in laterite deposits in Brazil, which at present are largely undeveloped.
World ilmenite resources in identified deposits that are economically exploitable (R1E} are sufficient for about 150 years at current production rates, and about two-thirds of these resources are in China, the Soviet Union, and Norway. World rutile R1E resources would last about 80 years at current production rates, and some 54 percent of these resources are in Australia, the United States, and Italy. Combined R1E resources of anatase (which are all in Brazil) and rutile would last 300 years at current rutile production rates. Over 95 percent of the world's mine production of titanium-bearing minerals is used to manufacture titanium dioxide pigment for paint and other products. Most of the remaining 4 to 5 percent of production, which is largely rutile, is used for making titanium metal. Australia and Canada are the largest ilmenite producers, together supplying about half the world total; South Africa, Norway, and the Soviet Union together account for another third. Australia accounts for half the total world rutile production, with Sierra Leone and South Africa together accounting for another third. Australia and Norway are the largest exporters of titanium minerals. Unless major new deposits are discovered and developed in the traditional producing countries, the pattern of world production of both ilmenite and rutile could change substantially by 2020.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
International strategic minerals inventory summary report; titanium