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06 February 2023

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The South African coatings industry has welcomed the introduction of a Government rebate on the import duties for titanium dioxide which have for years cost manufacturers of paint and ancillary products millions of rands in full import duties although it had no option but to import as there was no local source available.

Titanium dioxide is a vital raw material to produce paints, varnishes and driers. The last local producer of the chemical shut down in 2016.

Tara Benn, executive director of the SA Paint Manufacturing Association (SAPMA), says the announcement of the import duty rebate is wonderful news for the coatings sector. “The ‘Schedule 3’ rebate on titanium dioxide used in the production of paints, varnishes and prepared driers has been gazetted and is already being implemented. It will apply until 20 July 2025 by which time, SAPMA presumes, the government feels the local production of titanium dioxide is likely to be in operation,” she adds.

A new multi-billion rand Nyanza Light Metals plant is being constructed at Richards Bay but there has been no announcement of the official date for the start of local titanium dioxide production to fully meet the coatings sector’s needs.

Benn says SAPMA members’ profitability had been severely affected by many years of heavy import duties for titanium dioxide – mainly sourced from China – coupled with Covid-19 challenges. “The duties also hit all consumers of coatings which suffered because of supply delays and unavoidable pricing strategies required to cope with the cost of importing titanium dioxide,” she adds.

In addition to being widely used in the coatings industry, titanium dioxide is also an important raw material for many other industries such as manufacturers of adhesives, paper, plastics and rubber, printing inks, coated fabrics and textiles, ceramics, floor coverings, roofing materials, cosmetics, toothpaste, soap, water treatment agents, pharmaceuticals, food colorants, automotive products, sunscreen and catalysts.

The Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC), Nomalungelo Gina, recently said the government was pleased with progress made on the construction of a new titanium dioxide plant based in the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ). Gina had visited Nyanza Lights Metals to evaluate the phase one completion of the infrastructure being built by the company for its chemicals plant.

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