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Tuesday, 16 February 1971

Senator COTTON - The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(I)   The minerals, rutile, zircon, ilmenite and monazite which are produced from the mining of mineral sands are not quoted on the London Metal Exchange and accordingly there is no generally accepted world price for these minerals. As a guide however, for the year ended30th June 1970 the range of prices quoted for rutile, zircon, ilmenite and monazite concentrates in the United Kingdom and the United States of America are shown in the following table. Except for rutile in the United States of America prices are per long ton.


(2)   In the United Slates of America, the world's largest market for titanium metal, which is obtained by processing of rutile, prices quoted for titanium metal sponge were$US1.32 per lb for US-produced material of the commonest grade, and $1.20-1.25 for British and Japanese materials in the year ended 30th June 1970. Zirconium sponge (commercial grade) was quoted at $5-10 per lb. Metals derived from monazite were priced as follows: cerium and lanthanum,$US50- 150 per lb; neodymium, $100-125; praseodymium, $1 70-225; samarium and yttrium, $145-260; thorium powder, $65.

(3)   Normally, prices of intermediate products of processing are not published. However, some approximate prices are listed below: titanium tetrachloride - $US300 per ton c.i.f. zircon oxide -$US0.64 per lb. cerium oxide -$USl.84 per lb.

(4)   No saleable by-products are produced from the processing of titanium and zirconium concentrates to the metals. Sodium sulphate ($A64 per ton) and tri-sodium phosphate (8c per lb) are by-products resulting from the treatment of monazite concentrates.

(5)   The further processing of mineral sands to the relevant metals in Australia could well be within the capabilities of Australian industry in terms of capital requirements and technical knowhow, but such processing may not be economic at present.

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