Ukraine plans to auction United Mining and Chemical Company

In 2016, Ukraine failed to sell state fertiliser group Odessa Portside Plant (OPP) because of a lack of bids.

Now, Ukraine plans to auction Europe’s largest titanium and zirconium miner, United Mining and Chemical Company (UMCC), on August 31, the head of its state property fund said. If UMCC is sold, it will be the first successful privatisation auction of a large state-owned enterprise since a 2014 uprising led to pro-Western leadership in Ukraine.

“The state is privatising a powerful enterprise … The government has approved the terms of the privatisation,” Dmytro Sennychenko wrote on Facebook.

He said that the starting price for 100% of UMCC had been set at 3.7-billion hryvnias (about $136-million).

The fund says UMCC is among the top 10 global miners of titanium and zirconium ores and its share of the global market was 2.3% for ilmenite, 6.2% for rutile and 1.4% for zircon in 2020.

UMCC provides raw materials which have a wide range of uses including steelmaking, glassmaking and traditional ceramics, with titanium also used as an important alloying agent.

“We hope for high competition and the market price … at a transparent auction,” Sennychenko said.

Ukraine aims to raise about 12 billion hryvnias by selling state assets in 2021 to partially finance the state budget deficit, which was approved at 5.5% of gross domestic product.




Titanium mining progress in Iran

Iran exported only 150t of titanium last year, generating revenues of just US$390,000, according to the ministry. The country has brought a major titanium mine online in the NorthWest of the country and now plans to develop processing capacity there, according to provincial officials.

Parisa Abedpour, deputy head of the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade in West Azerbaijan province, told the state-run IRNA agency that the Qara-Aghaj mine near provincial capital Urmia is now fully operational ahead of the planned construction of a processing plant.

Qara-Aghaj is estimated to have 208 million tonnes of titanium-bearing ore, with an average grade of 8.5%, according to historic exploration data gathered by the Iranian Society of Mining and Engineering.

The country only has one titanium slag plant in operation in Kahnuj in southeastern Kerman province, which has a production capacity of 130,000t/yr of titanium dioxide concentrate and 70,000t/yr of titanium slag.

The US in April renewed its determination from November 2019  that any sales to Iran of titanium, among other metals including chromium, nickel and 60% tungsten, were sanctionable as they are useful to Iran’s nuclear, missile, and military programmes.