Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Road Paint Shortage Leads Oklahoma City-Based Tronox to Resurgence

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Road Paint Shortage Leads Oklahoma City-Based Tronox to Resurgence

Article excerpt

Tronox Inc. is enjoying a resurgence of titanium dioxide pigment demand as the company heads out of bankruptcy and the country faces a road striping paint shortage, Vice President Robert Gibney said.

"It's good to see the business performing well right at about the same time we're getting ready to exit bankruptcy this summer," he said. "With all the (federal) stimulus package money and work going on the highways ... supply has become tight."

The publicly traded Oklahoma City company is one of the largest global suppliers of the pigment, often referred to by its chemical symbols TiO2. Titanium dioxide is a market-preferred whitener, brightener and opacifier for coatings including paint and plastics. Gibney said the company has roughly $1 billion in annual revenue in the $5 billion industry.

Road paint has been hard to come by lately, many municipal and state government agencies are discovering. In April, North Carolina- based Chemark Consulting Group Inc.'s study of the U.S. paints and coatings industry identified two key components in recent paint shortages: titanium dioxide and methyl methacrylate (MMA), an acrylic resin used in road paint. Earlier this year, China stopped exporting titanium dioxide to North America because of a greater need in its own domestic market, and suppliers of MMA, including Arkema and Dow Chemical, shut down production lines for maintenance.

With the recession driving municipal and state governments to delay or cut back on many projects, the demand for road paint declined as well, Gibney said. Tronox even shut down its Georgia plant for that reason.

The company operates three titanium dioxide facilities in Mississippi, the Netherlands and Australia. Its research and development and corporate offices in Oklahoma employ about 140 people.

Now that the economy is picking up again and federal funds are flowing back into transportation projects, demand is greater than supply, he said. …

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