Saudi Arabia-based Royal Commission in Yanbu — an independent organization from the government — is currently building a factory to create titanium sponge. The current plant will undergo a technological upgrade, and will be outfitted with high-pressure oxidation equipment in order to generate titanium dioxide.
The plant is slated to finish and begin producing titanium sponge by 2017. It is anticipated that the output of the new plant and the retrofitted plant will be 15,600 metric tons of titanium sponge annually, and 120 thousand tons of titanium dioxide yearly.
Titanium sponge is a rock-life formation of titanium that is produced during the initial stage of titanium processing. It’s used across many industries, such as the aerospace, telephone, and jewelry industries.
Japanese company Toho is also getting a cut of the action: Toho will move forward with RCY and Saudi company Tasnee to create a project aimed at producing titanium sponge as well. Tasnee and Tasnee-owned company Cristal will each own 32.5 percent of the new Crystal Complex project, while Toho will own 35 perfect.
Saudi Arabia’s influence in oil wanes as natural gas has reached soaring heights in the US. It seems to counter their oil collapse, as Saudi Arabia is looking to widen its berth in the metals industry.
Just recently, Saudi Arabia commissioned the operation of world’s largest aluminum complex, from bauxite to finished products. Like aluminum, production of other light metals, like titanium and magnesium, are very energy intensive, a major cost factor. They have taken action in both aluminum and titanium. The next logical step for them will be delve in the production of magnesium.
Saudi Arabia already has a significant investment, presence, and operation in the chemical industry using oil-based feedstock.
China now is the major global producer of all the light metals: aluminum, titanium, and magnesium. The country uses very uneconomical energy inputs, using cheap and abundant energy resources. With this new venture, Saudi Arabia can challenge China in the production of world-hungry light metals.
Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan
April 30, 2015
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