SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the Year ended December 31, 2020
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
(Commission file number)
TRONOX HOLDINGS PLC
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
England and Wales
|(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)||(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)|
|263 Tresser Boulevard,||Laporte Road, Stallingborough|
|Suite 1100||Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, DN40 2PR|
|Stamford||United Kingdom |
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (203) 705-3800
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
|Name of each exchange on which registered|
Ordinary Shares, par value $0.01 per share
|New York Stock Exchange|
Trading Symbol: TROX
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management's assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐ No ☒
The aggregate market value of the ordinary shares held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of June 30, 2020 was approximately $658,566,488.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Section 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court. Yes ☒ No ☐
As of January 31, 2021, the registrant had 143,557,479 ordinary shares outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s proxy statement for its 2021 annual general meeting of shareholders are incorporated by reference in this Form 10-K in response to Part III Items 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14.
TRONOX HOLDINGS PLC
ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K
FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2020
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
We have made statements under the captions “Business,” “Risk Factors,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations”, and in other sections of this Form 10-K that are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements also can be identified by words such as “future,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “predicts,” “will,” “would,” “could,” “can,” “may,” and similar terms. These forward-looking statements, which are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and assumptions about us, may include projections of our future financial performance based on our growth strategies and anticipated trends in our business. These statements are only predictions based on our current expectations and projections about future events. There are important factors that could cause our actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements to differ materially from the results, level of activity, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. In particular, you should consider the numerous risks and uncertainties outlined in “Risk Factors.”
These risks and uncertainties are not exhaustive. Other sections of this Form 10-K may include additional factors, which could adversely impact our business and financial performance. Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks and uncertainties emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for our management to predict all risks and uncertainties, nor can management assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements.
Although we believe the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee future results, level of activity, performance or achievements. Moreover, neither we nor any other person assumes responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of any of these forward-looking statements. You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. Unless otherwise required by applicable law, we are under no duty to update any of these forward-looking statements after the date of this Form 10-K to conform our prior statements to actual results or revised expectations and we do not intend to do so.
When considering forward-looking statements, you should keep in mind the risks, uncertainties and other cautionary statements made in this Form 10-K and the documents incorporated by reference, including, in particular, the factors discussed below. These factors may be revised or supplemented in subsequent reports on Forms 10-Q and 8-K.
Factors that may affect future results include, but are not limited to:
•the risk that our customers might reduce demand for our products;
•market conditions and price volatility for titanium dioxide (“TiO2”), zircon and other feedstock products, as well as global and regional economic downturns, that adversely affect the demand for our end-use products;
•potential risks and uncertainties relating to the ultimate geographic spread of COVID-19, the severity of the disease and the effectiveness of treatments and vaccines and the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak, including potential material adverse effects on our business, financial condition and results of operations;
•actions that may be taken by governmental authorities to contain the COVID-19 outbreak or to treat its impact on our business, including the failure to implement additional stimuli;
•the potential negative impacts of COVID-19 on the global economy and financial markets;
•the possibility that Chinese production of chloride technology and improvements in product quality may occur more quickly than anticipated;
•changes in prices or supply of energy or other raw materials;
•liability, production delays and additional expenses from environmental and industrial accidents;
•production curtailments, shutdowns or additional expenditures resulting from equipment upgrades, equipment failures and deterioration of assets;
•the possibility that cybersecurity incidents or other security breaches may seriously impact our results of operations and financial condition;
•risks of operating a global business;
•political and social instability, and unrest, in the Middle East region;
•economic conditions and regulatory changes following the U.K.'s exit from the E.U. could adversely impact our operations, operating results and financial condition;
•fluctuations in currency exchange rates;
•the risk that the agreements governing our debt may restrict our ability to operate our business in certain ways, as well as impact our liquidity;
•our inability to obtain additional capital on favorable terms;
•the risk that we may not realize expected investment returns on our capital expenditure projects;
•an unpredictable regulatory environment in South Africa where we have significant mining and beneficiation operations, including amendments by the South African Department of Mineral Resources to the Mining Charter;
•unanticipated costs or liabilities, including the classification of TiO2 as a Category 2 Carcinogen in the E.U., as a result of compliance with, or claims under environmental, health and safety regulations;
•the risk that our ability to use our tax attributes to offset future income may be limited;
•concentrated share ownership in the hands of Cristal and Exxaro Resources Limited (“Exxaro”), which may result in conflicts of interest and/or prevent minority shareholders from influencing the Company; and
•impact of English law and our articles of association on our ability to manage our capital structure flexibly and the anti-takeover protections incorporated into our articles of association.
We are committed to providing timely and accurate information to the investing public, consistent with our legal and regulatory obligations. To that end, we use our website to convey information about our businesses, including the anticipated release of quarterly financial results, quarterly financial and statistical and business-related information. Investors can access announcements about the Company through our website available at http://www.tronox.com. Our website is included as an inactive textual reference only and the information contained therein or connected thereto shall not be deemed to be incorporated into this Form 10-K.
For the purposes of this discussion, references to “we,” “us,” and, “our” refer to Tronox Holdings plc, together with its consolidated subsidiaries (collectively referred to as “Tronox” or the "Company”). We are a public limited company formed under the laws of England and Wales. We are considered a domestic company in the United Kingdom and, as such, are required to comply with filing requirements in the United Kingdom. Additionally, we are not considered a “foreign private issuer” in the U.S.; therefore, we are required to comply with the reporting and other requirements imposed by the U.S. securities law on U.S. domestic issuers, which, among other things, requires reporting under accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (“U.S. GAAP”).
Item 1. Business
Tronox is the world’s leading vertically integrated manufacturer of TiO2 pigment. We operate titanium-bearing mineral sand mines and beneficiation and smelting operations in Australia, South Africa and Brazil to produce feedstock materials that can be processed into TiO2 for pigment, high purity titanium chemicals, including titanium tetrachloride, and ultrafine TiO2 used in certain specialty applications. It is our long-term strategic goal to be vertically integrated and consume all our feedstock materials in our 9 TiO2 pigment facilities located in the United States, Australia, Brazil, UK, France, the Netherlands, China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ("KSA"). We believe that vertical integration is the best way to achieve our ultimate goal of delivering low cost, high-quality pigment to our approximately 1,200 TiO2 customers throughout the world. The mining, beneficiation and smelting of titanium bearing mineral sands also creates meaningful quantities of zircon, which we also supply to customers around the world.
The following chart highlights the TiO2 value chain we participate in (percentages set forth in the chart below refer to the global TiO2 market as of December 31, 2020):
The following sets forth the percentage of our revenue derived from sales of our products by geographic region for the year ended December 31, 2020.
The below sets forth the percentage of our revenue derived from sales of our products for the year ended December 31, 2020.
For further financial information regarding our products and geographic regions, see the section entitled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations”, as well as Notes 5 and 25 of notes to our consolidated financial statements, each included elsewhere in this Form 10-K.
2020 Key Strategic Initiatives
The following sets forth the key strategic initiatives undertaken during 2020:
Become the Low Cost TiO2 Producer by Investing in our Business Processes
Our ability to compete effectively in the TiO2 industry is determined by many factors, including innovation, reliability, product quality, customer service and price. The business processes that allows us to maximize the benefit of our vertical integration and global footprint --- the so-called “hidden factory” --- needs to be optimized if we are to successfully meet the pricing and other competitive pressures that characterize our industry. One of the largest investment projects that we have embarked on to improve our global business processes is what we call “Project newTron,” a multi-year IT-enabled transformation program that includes both operational and business transformation. We believe that Project newTron will not only enable us to maintain our position as among the lowest cost producers of TiO2 but also substantially improve the reliability, customer service, cybersecurity and the IT resiliency of our operations.
Improve our Contracting Terms to Offer Our Customers More Predictability Through Margin Stabilization
Our TiO2 sales and marketing efforts are focused on strengthening our margin stabilization program which we regard as a core pillar of our strategy to better serve the paint and coatings industry. Customers who chose to participate in our margin stabilization program are provided with relative certainty over availability of product and price stability that allows us to focus on predictability and reliability of TiO2 delivery across the supply and demand cycle. We believe that margin stabilization is a “win-win” proposition allowing our customers to reduce volatility in their supply chains and allowing Tronox to consistently invest in its mines, upgrading facilities and TiO2 plants throughout the supply-demand cycle.
Strengthening Vertical Integration
In order to become the world’s leading vertically integrated producer of TiO2, one of our capital allocation priorities is to develop sufficient titanium feedstock production capacity to meet the needs of growing global demand for TiO2. We are pursuing feedstock production growth through both organic and inorganic means.
In terms of organic growth, we have two significant projects currently underway. One is the development of a mine in Eastern Australia known as Atlas Campaspe and the other is the commissioning of a titatnium slag smelter majority-owned by a subsidiary of our largest shareholder, Tasnee, where we have extended a $125 million loan and are contributing know-how and technology services. Atlas Campaspe is intended to replace feedstock supply from our existing Snapper / Ginkgo mines which are nearing end of life. Our pre-mining feasibility work indicates that this mine is abundant in natural rutile and high-value zircon, and will be a significant source of high grade ilmenite suitable for direct use, synthetic rutile production, or slag processing. We have significant other mine development projects in earlier stages of development in Western Australia and on the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
A second significant organic growth project is a titanium slag smelter facility (the “Slagger”) located in The Jazan City for Primary and Downstream Industries in KSA. On May 9, 2018, we entered into an Option Agreement with Advanced Metals Industries Cluster Company Limited (“AMIC”) which is owned equally by Tasnee and Cristal. Under the terms of the Option Agreement, AMIC granted us an option (the “Option”) to acquire 90% of a special purpose vehicle (the “SPV”) which will hold AMIC’s ownership in the Slagger. The Option may be exercised if the Slagger achieves certain production criteria related to sustained quality and tonnage of slag produced (the “Option Criteria”). Likewise, AMIC may require us to acquire the Slagger on the same terms if the Option Criteria are satisfied (the “Put”). If the Option Criteria are met and Cristal exercises the Put or we exercise the Option, AMIC will also contribute $322 million of AMIC indebtedness (the “AMIC Debt”) to the SPV before we acquire a 90% ownership in it. In addition pursuant to the Option Agreement, we agreed to lend AMIC up to $125 million for capital expenditures and operational expenses intended to facilitate the start-up of the Slagger (the “Tronox Loans”). As of December 31, 2020, we have loaned AMIC $125 million to facilitate the startup of the Slagger. If the Option Criteria are met and Cristal exercises the Put or we exercise the Option, AMIC will also contribute the Tronox Loans to the SPV before we acquire a 90% ownership in it.
On May 13, 2020, we amended the Option Agreement (the "First Amendment") with AMIC to address circumstances in which the Option Criteria fail to be satisfied. Pursuant to the First Amendment, if the Option Criteria are not satisfied, Tronox has the right to acquire 90% of the SPV in exchange for the forgiveness of the Tronox Loans in which case the AMIC Debt will be retained by AMIC and not contributed to the SPV.
Additionally, on May 13, 2020, we amended a Technical Services Agreement (the “Amended TSA”) that we had entered with AMIC on March 15, 2018 to supplement certain technical services that we had originally agreed to provide. Under the Amended TSA, we agreed to provide technical advice and project management services including supervision and management of third party consultants intended to increase the likelihood that the Option Criteria are satisfied. AMIC and its consultants remain responsible for engineering and construction of the Slagger. As compensation for these services, Tronox receives a monthly
management fee of approximately $1 million, subject to certain success incentives if and when the Slagger achieves the Option Criteria.
We are also pursuing on an inorganic basis, opportunities to increase our production of titanium feedstocks. In May 2020, we announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire the Tizir Titanium and Iron ("TTI") business from Eramet S.A. for approximately $300 million in cash. TTI is a titanium smelter or slagger located in Tyssedal, Norway which upgrades ilmenite to produce high-grade titanium slag and high-purity pig iron. However, on January 18, 2021, we terminated our agreement with Eramet and paid a $18 million break-fee following the United Kingdom Competition and Markets Authority opening of a phase 2 investigation into the proposed TTI acquisition.
Tronox Synergy Savings Program
On April 10, 2019, we completed the acquisition (the "Cristal Transaction") from National Industrialization Company (“Tasnee”) of the TiO2 business of The National Titanium Dioxide Company Ltd., a limited company organized under the laws of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (“Cristal”). The Cristal Transaction created significant opportunities for us to realize operating and cost-saving synergies. When the Cristal Transaction closed, we announced our goal of achieving approximately $220 million in synergies by 2022. For the year ended December 31, 2020, we delivered total synergies of $243 million, of which $193 million have been reflected in our EBITDA and $50 million are cash and other synergies not reflected in EBITDA.
Our Principal Products
TiO2 pigment is used in a wide range of products due to its ability to impart whiteness, brightness, and opacity. TiO2 pigment is used extensively in the manufacture of paint and other coatings, plastics and paper, and in a wide range of other applications. Moreover, it is a critical component of everyday consumer applications due to its superior ability to cover or mask other materials effectively and efficiently relative to alternative white pigments and extenders. TiO2 pigment is considered to be a quality of life product. At present, it is our belief that there is no effective substitute for TiO2 pigment because no other white pigment has the physical properties for achieving comparable opacity and brightness or can be incorporated as cost effectively.
Ultrafine Specialty TiO2
We use the sulfate process at our manufacturing facility in Thann, France to produce ultrafine TiO2 products. We market ultrafine TiO2 products under the CristalActiv® trademark. Ultrafine TiO2 has highly catalytic properties due to the relatively high surface area of each TiO2 molecule. The principal use of ultrafine TiO2 products is in NOx emission control products utilized in stationary, mobile and marine applications.
In 2020, we generated $2.2 billion in revenue from sales of TiO2.
Zircon (ZrSiO4) is a co-product of mining mineral sands deposits for titanium feedstock. Zircon is primarily used as an additive in ceramic glazes, which makes the ceramic glaze more water, chemical and abrasion resistant. It is also used for the production of zirconium metal and zirconium chemicals, in refractories, as molding sand in foundries, and for TV screen glass, where it adds its structural stability at high temperatures and resistance to abrasive and corrosive conditions. Zircon typically represents a relatively low proportion of the in-situ heavy mineral sands deposits we mine, but has a relatively high value compared to other heavy mineral products. Refractories containing zircon are expensive and are only used in demanding, high-wear and corrosive applications in the glass, steel and cement industries. Foundry applications use zircon when casting articles of high quality and value where accurate sizing is crucial, such as aerospace, automotive, medical, and other high-end applications.
In 2020, we generated $283 million in revenue from sales of zircon.
Feedstock and Other Products
High Purity Pig Iron
During the process of smelting ilmenite at our smelters to increase the concentration of titanium and produce titanium slag, high purity pig iron is produced as a co-product. High purity pig iron is used as a raw material in foundries for the production of
high-quality ductile iron castings. Ductile iron is used extensively throughout the world for the production of safety critical automotive parts, such as engine blocks, brake calipers and steering knuckles in cars and trucks.
Most TiO2 products are derived from three naturally occurring minerals which are commonly referred to as heavy minerals or mineral sands: ilmenite, leucoxene and rutile. Ilmenite, rutile, leucoxene, as well as titanium slag and synthetic rutile which are processed from ilmenite, are the primary feedstock materials that we use for the production of TiO2 pigment. Titanium slag is produced by smelting ilmenite in an electric arc furnace to separate titanium-oxide from the iron and other impurities. Synthetic rutile is produced by reducing ilmenite in a rotary kiln, followed by leaching under various conditions to remove the metallic iron from the reduced ilmenite grains. The purpose of both processes is to increase the titanium concentration of the ilmenite. There is substantial overlap amongst each of the aforementioned with the primary differentiating factor being the level of titanium content. For instance, rutile has the highest titanium dioxide content of approximately 94% to 96%, while ilmenite has the lowest of approximately 45% to 65%. As a result of expiration of external feedstock agreements entered into in connection with the regulatory approval of our Cristal transaction and our continued pursuit of our vertical integration strategy, we expect revenue associated with the sales of feedstock will significantly decline going forward.
We sell titanium tetrachloride (“TiCl4”) from our facilities in Thann, France and Yanbu, KSA. At our Thann facility in France, we produce TiCl4 dedicated for sale to customers for use mainly in the production of various types of pigments and catalyst products. At our Yanbu facility, we produce excess TiCl4 which we sell directly to a joint venture between Advanced Metal Industries Cluster and Toho Titanium Metal Co. Ltd. ("ATTM") for use at a titanium sponge plant facility that is adjacent to our Yanbu facility.
In 2020, we generated $299 million in revenue from the sale of high purity pig iron, feedstock, titanium tetrachloride and other products. This amount also includes revenue generated from the 8120 paper laminate grade to Venator Materials plc ("Venator"). In 2019, as part of the Cristal Transaction and in order to obtain approval by regulators in the European Union, we sold the 8120 paper laminate grade to Venator and entered into a three-year transitional supply agreement which will likely terminate in April 2022. Revenue from 8120 paper laminate grade sales to Venator are included within Feedstock and Other products until the expiration date of the supply agreement with Venator.
The demand for certain of our products during a given year is subject to seasonal fluctuations. See “Risk Factors –
Risks Relating to our Business - The markets for many of our products have seasonally affected sales patterns”.
Mining and Beneficiation of Mineral Sands Deposits
Our current operational mining and beneficiation of mineral sands deposits are comprised of the following:
•KwaZulu-Natal (“KZN”) Sands operations located on the eastern coast of South Africa consisting of the Fairbreeze mine, a concentration plant, a mineral separation plant and two smelting furnaces that produce titanium slag;
•Our Namakwa Sands operations located on the western coast of South Africa consisting of the Namakwa mine, two concentration plants, a mineral separation plant, as well as two smelting furnaces that produce titanium slag;
•Our Northern Operations complex in Western Australia consisting of the Cooljarloo dredge mine and floating heavy mineral concentration plant and the Chandala metallurgical site which includes a mineral separation plant and a synthetic rutile plant that produces synthetic rutile;
•Our Murray Basin operations in New South Wales, Australia consisting of the Ginkgo and Snapper mines, a floating heavy mineral concentration plant at the Ginkgo site, and a mineral separation plant;
•Our Perth Basin operations in Western Australia consisting of the Wonnerup mine and a mineral separation plant; and
•Our Paraiba, Brazil mining operations ceased during 2020 in line with our life of mine plan; however, we believe there is enough feedstock to supply the Brazil pigment plant through 2022.
Zircon is often, but not always, found in mineral sands deposits containing ilmenite. It is extracted, alongside ilmenite and rutile, as part of the initial mineral sands beneficiation process.
The mining of mineral sands deposits is conducted either “wet,” by dredging or hydraulic water jets, or “dry,” by using earth-moving equipment to excavate and transport the sands. The type of mining operation we deploy is dependent upon the characteristics of the ore body. Dredge mining is generally the favored method of mining mineral sands, provided that the ground conditions are suitable, water is readily available and the deposit is low in slime content. Dry mining techniques are generally preferred in situations involving hard ground, discontinuous ore bodies, small tonnage, high slimes contents and/or very high grades.
Regardless of the type of mining technique, the first step in the beneficiation process after the mineral sands have been mined is to utilize wet concentrator plants to produce a high grade of heavy mineral concentrate (typically approximately 90% to 98% heavy mineral content). Screened ore is first de-slimed, a process by which slimes are separated from larger particles of minerals, and then processed through a series of spiral separators that use gravity to separate the heavy mineral sands from lighter materials, such as quartz. Residue from the concentration process is pumped back into either the open pits or slimes dams for rehabilitation and water recovery.
After producing heavy mineral concentrate in our wet concentrator plants, we separate the non-magnetic (zircon and rutile) and magnetic (ilmenite) fractions utilizing a variety of techniques. Through the separation process, we produce zircon which is sold directly to customers and rutile and leuxocene which can immediately be used as feedstock material to make TiO2 pigment or sold to the titanium metal, welding and other industries.
Ilmenite is generally further refined for use in our TiO2 pigment manufacturing processes. Depending on the characteristics of the ilmenite we use two fundamental processes to refine ilmenite. Both processes involve the removal of iron and other non-titanium material.
•Titanium slag is made by smelting ilmenite in an electric arc furnace to separate titanium-oxide from the iron and other impurities. The result is two products: “slag” which contains 86% to 89% titanium dioxide and is considered a TiO2 feedstock material, and high purity pig iron which is ready for sale to end-use customers.
•Synthetic rutile is made by reducing ilmenite in a rotary kiln, followed by leaching under various conditions to remove the iron from the reduced ilmenite grains. Activated carbon is a byproduct of this process. Our synthetic rutile has a titanium dioxide content of approximately 89% to 92% and is also considered a TiO2 feedstock material.
Our current mining and beneficiation operations have an annual production capacity of approximately 822,000 metric tons (“MT”) of titanium feedstock, which is comprised of 182,000 MT of rutile and leucoxene, 230,000 MT of synthetic rutile and 410,000 MT of titanium slag. We currently have the capability to produce approximately 297,000 MT of zircon and 220,000 MT of pig iron.
Competitive Conditions of Mining and Feedstock Production
Globally, there are a large number of mining companies that mine mineral sand deposits containing ilmenite, as well as zircon. However, there is a smaller number of mining companies that are also involved in upgrading the underlying ilmenite to produce feedstock typically utilized by TiO2 producers.
Pigment producers procure a range of types of feedstocks from multiple feedstock producers to create varying blends of feedstock materials that maximize the efficiency and economic returns of their unique production technique under conditions applicable at the time of production. Pigment producers frequently switch the relative amount of each feedstock they procure based on a number of factors including: the relative cost of feedstocks, feedstock logistics costs, the cost of, and availability of, chemicals used to process feedstocks, as well as waste management costs. Hence, there is a high degree of substitutability between and among titanium feedstocks.
Production of TiO2 Pigment
TiO2 pigment is produced using a combination of processes involving the manufacture of base pigment particles through either the chloride or sulfate process followed by surface treatment, drying and milling (collectively known as finishing). Currently, approximately 87% of our TiO2 pigment production capacity is produced using the chloride process and approximately 13% of our TiO2 production capacity is produced using the sulfate process.
In the chloride process, feedstock (slag, synthetic rutile, natural rutile or ilmenite ores) are reacted with chlorine (the chlorination step) and carbon to form TiCl4 in a continuous fluid bed reactor. Purification of TiCl4 to remove impurities is accomplished using selective condensation and distillation processes. The purified TiCl4 is then oxidized in a vapor phase form to produce raw pigment particles and chlorine gas. The latter is recycled back to the chlorination step for reuse. Raw pigment is then typically slurried with water and dispersants prior to entering the finishing step. Due to the nature of the production process, the final pigment product is not sensitive to the feedstocks used to create it, as substantially all substances other than TiO2 are removed during the process. The chloride process currently accounts for substantially all of the industry-wide TiO2 production capacity in North America, and approximately 43% of industry-wide capacity globally.
In the sulfate process, ilmenite and/or slag are dissolved in concentrated sulfuric acid. After removing impurities, dissolved titanium is hydrolyzed and separated from the remaining sulfuric acid. The titanium hydrolysate is subsequently calcined in a
rotary kiln to produce a raw TiO2. The product is then further finished in a similar way to TiO2 produced through the chloride process.
Commercial production of TiO2 pigment results in one of two different crystal forms: rutile, which is manufactured using either the chloride process or the sulfate process, or anatase, which is only produced using the sulfate process. Rutile TiO2 is preferred over anatase TiO2 for many of the largest end-use applications, such as coatings and plastics, because its higher refractive index imparts better hiding power at lower quantities than the anatase crystal form and it is more suitable for outdoor use because it is more durable. Rutile TiO2 can be produced using either the chloride process or the sulfate process.
The primary raw materials used in the production of chloride TiO2 pigment include titanium feedstock, chlorine and coke. As discussed above, we believe we are unique in the degree to which we produce our own high-grade titanium feedstock. Other chemicals used in the production of TiO2 are purchased from various companies under short and long-term supply contracts. In the past, we have been, and we expect that we will continue to be, successful in obtaining extensions to these and other existing supply contracts prior to their expiration. We expect the raw materials purchased under these contracts, and contracts that we enter into the near term, to meet our requirements over the next several years.
Marketing of TiO2
We supply and market TiO2 under the brand name TIONA® and CristalActiv® to approximately 1,200 customers in approximately 120 countries, including market leaders in each of the key end-use markets for TiO2, and we have supplied each of our top ten customers with TiO2 for more than 10 years. In 2018, we launched a margin stabilization program which is a key part of our TiO2 marketing and sales strategy. Customers who chose to participate in our margin stabilization program are provided with relative certainty over availability of product and price stability that allows us to focus on predictability and reliability of TiO2 delivery across the supply and demand cycle.
The following sets forth the percentage of our TiO2 sales volume by end-use market for the year ended December 31, 2020:
In addition to price and product quality, we compete on the basis of technical support and customer service. We sell our products through both a direct sales force and third-party agents and distributors. Our direct sales, marketing and technical service organizations execute our sales and marketing strategy on a global basis. Due to the technical requirements of TiO2 applications, our technical service organization and direct sales offices are supported by a regional customer service staff located in each of our major geographic markets.
Our sales and marketing strategy focuses on aligning ourselves with customers growing faster than the market and effective customer management through the development and maintenance of strong relationships. We develop customer relationships and manage customer contact across multiple contact points within the organization including our sales, technical service and marketing, research and development, and customer service teams. These primary points of contact are supplemented by direct
contact with plant operations personnel, supply chain specialists, and senior management. We believe that multiple points of customer contact facilitate efficient problem solving, supply chain support, formula optimization and co-development of products.
Competitive Conditions of TiO2 Pigment
The global market in which our TiO2 pigment business operates is highly competitive. Competition is based on a number of factors such as price, product quality and service. We face competition from both chloride process pigment producers and sulfate process pigment producers. Moreover, because transportation costs are minor relative to the cost of our product, there is also competition between products produced in one region versus products produced in another region.
We face competition from global competitors with headquarters in Europe, the United States and China, including Chemours, Lomon Billions, Venator, Kronos Worldwide Inc., and INEOS. In addition, we compete with numerous regional producers particularly in Eastern Europe and China.
Research and Development
We have research and development facilities that aim to develop new products, service our products, and focus on applied research and development of both new and existing processes. We utilize a third party for research and development support with respect to our mineral sands business located in South Africa and Australia. The majority of scientists supporting our TiO2 pigment product development and testing are located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA and Stallingborough, UK, while the majority of scientists supporting our TiO2 ultrafine specialty business are located in Thann, France.
New process developments are focused on increased throughput, efficiency gains and general processing-related improvements for our customers. Ongoing development of process technology contributes to cost reduction, enhanced production flexibility, increased capacity, and improved consistency of product quality. In 2020, our product development and commercialization efforts were focused on launching several new TiO2 products that we believe will deliver added value to customers in plastics end use segments by way of enhanced properties of the pigment. In addition, our development efforts continued on multiple new products that we believe should deliver better performance to customers across all end use segments.
Patents, Trademarks, Trade Secrets and Other Intellectual Property Rights
Protection of our proprietary intellectual property is important to our business. At December 31, 2020, we held 118 patents and 7 patent applications in the U.S., and approximately 698 in foreign counterparts, including both issued patents and pending patent applications. Our U.S. patents have expiration dates ranging through 2039. Additionally, we have 9 trademark registrations in the U.S. and 2 trademark applications in the U.S., as well as 251 trademark counterpart registrations and applications in foreign jurisdictions.
We also rely upon our unpatented proprietary technology, know-how and other trade secrets. The substantial majority of our patents and trade secrets relate to our chloride products, surface treatments, chlorination expertise, and oxidation process technology, and this proprietary chloride production technology is an important part of our overall technology position. However, much of the fundamental intellectual property associated with both chloride and sulfate pigment production is no longer subject to patent protection. At Namakwa Sands, we rely on intellectual property for our smelting technology, which was granted to us in perpetuity by Anglo American South Africa Limited for use on a worldwide basis, pursuant to a non-exclusive license.
While certain of our patents relating to our products and production processes are important to our long-term success, more important is the operational knowledge we possess. We also use and rely upon unpatented proprietary knowledge, continuing technological innovation and other trade secrets to develop and maintain our competitive position. We conduct research activities and protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets through reasonable measures, including confidentiality agreements and security procedures. We protect the trademarks that we use in connection with the products we manufacture and sell, and have developed value in connection with our long-term use of our trademarks. See “Risk Factors—If our intellectual property were compromised or copied by competitors, or if competitors were to develop similar intellectual property, our results of operations could be negatively affected. Further, third parties may claim that we infringe on their intellectual property rights which could result in costly litigation."
Tronox employs approximately 6,500 people across six continents, and we believe it is our rich diversity and exceptional operational and technical expertise that, combined with our vertical integration model, position Tronox as the world's leading vertically integrated manufacturer of titanium dioxide pigment. Recognizing the importance of our human capital, we have made People, Culture and Capabilities one of our five strategic pillars, and placed a priority around developing leaders who will help us
effectively (i) acquire, develop and nurture our talent, and (ii) foster a culture with the values that are important to us, starting with safety and an outward mindset.
Because we operate both titanium ore mines and titanium dioxide pigment plants, and because our operations span the world, we not only require specialty skills in mining and TiO2 pigment manufacturing, but we also need people who are willing to learn skills across both operations and who can help us extract value from our integrated model. The below map sets forth the approximate number of employees as of December 31, 2020, in each of the global regions in which we operate.
Accordingly, we place a high priority on knowledge transfer (including by relocating skilled leaders across countries and between mining and TiO2 pigment operations, by staffing high-potential employees in regions on global projects, and by enabling collaboration in global centers of excellence), and we place a high priority on fostering diversity and inclusion. We are committed to creating an organization where leaders foster and encourage a diverse workforce, where people feel valued and respected, have access to opportunities, and in which a variety of different voices are encouraged and heard.
We also place an uncompromising focus on operating safe, reliable, and responsible facilities, and we measure our progress with both safety metrics and leading indicators. We believe every employee and contractor has a responsibility for safety, and we proactively identify and manage risk, conduct ourselves responsibly, exercise good judgement, and take accountability for our actions. In 2020, our employees worked more than 12 million hours with 22 recordable injuries and no fatalities from our operations, and our contractors worked more than 8 million hours with 18 recordable injuries and no fatalities from our operations. For the ninth year in a row our aggregate employee plus contractor total recordable injury rate was lower than the prior year, and 2020 was the lowest in our history.
As we worked through the COVID-19 environment and took actions to protect our employees, Tronox carefully monitored the impacts to our operations. We were able to operate globally without material disruption. We put prudent and proportionate measures in place, such as restricted employee travel, remote working, staggered shifts, wellness checkpoints at our entrances, visitor restrictions and more robust sanitation, and disinfecting procedures.
We aim to create an organizational culture underpinned by people operating with an outward mindset, where we see others as people who matter like we do. We take into account their needs, challenges, and objectives, and we focus on collective results.
In furtherance of such goal, nearly all of our employees has been through training and development courses to learn about working with an outward mindset and we believe that as they have understood the value of living with an outward mindset, they have embraced it. We have seen a transformation in our culture, and also in our results, starting with safety: our people truly care for one another, and not only other employees, but also our contractors, visitors and communities. Shaped by an outward mindset, our people have embraced our global diversity and are naturally inclusive. We believe operating with an outward
mindset was one of the primary reasons we were able to effectively integrate the employees of the legacy Cristal business into the Tronox organization, as our people welcomed new colleagues properly and sought to make each other successful.
Today, we are a collaborative group of people who naturally want to be helpful to others, and we adjust our own efforts to make our colleagues’ work easier, however we can.
Building on the foundation of an outward mindset, we have adopted a set of core values that describes our expectations of one another, starting with safety. Every performance review starts with a self-assessment and manager’s assessment of our consistency in living our values. Employees are encouraged – and provided a toolkit – to develop in the values where they are weak, and to help coach others in the values where they are strong.
Tronox Core Values
•We have an uncompromising focus on operating safe, reliable and responsible facilities.
•We honor our responsibility to create value for stakeholders.
•We treat others with respect, and act with personal and organizational integrity.
•We build our organization with diverse, talented people who make a positive difference and we invest in their success.
•We are adaptable, decisive and effective.
•We are trustworthy and reliable, and we build mutually rewarding relationships.
•We share accountability, and have high expectations for ourselves and one another.
•We do the right work the right way in every aspect of our business.
•We celebrate the joy of working together to accomplish great things.
Developing the operating and technical skills of our people, and the leadership competencies of our leaders, is an essential component of our business strategy.
At the beginning of 2020 we assessed the competencies of our senior leaders on ten dimensions, and then identified a competency on which they would focus their development during the year. Leaders were encouraged to access targeted executive education courses that aligned with their development from a new online program we offered.
In addition to our focus on leadership development, we continued to leverage and enhance our employees learning through the following initiatives:
•Offered online education to all employees via a broad based global learning platform, providing leadership development, business skills and information technology;
•Launched an education series covering topics specific to Tronox using video webinars available globally; and
•Completed a technical skills assessment of our workforce in the areas of mining, smelting/furnaces, chlorination, oxidation, finishing, and packaging, and began developing a program to build the capabilities for our future.
In addition, our employees are further guided by our code of conduct and business ethics and we conduct global training to help them fully understand and comply with such code of conduct.
We also have a rigorous succession planning process with respect to key positions throughout the organization. We believe such process allows us to proactively develop the talent of the future and allows us to move with speed and agility when leadership changes are required, as was demonstrated in the recent appointment of our interim co-CEOs and the election of our interim Chairman of the Board of Directors. As part of the succession planning process, high potential leaders are identified and development plans are completed for each candidate.
Environmental, Health and Safety Authorizations
Our facilities and operations are subject to extensive general and industry-specific environmental, health and safety regulations in jurisdictions where we operate, but particularly South Africa and Australia. These regulations include those relating to mine rehabilitation, liability provision, water management, the handling and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous materials, and occupational health and safety. The various legislation and regulations are subject to a number of internal and external audits. We believe our mineral sands operations are in compliance, in all material respects, with existing health, safety and environmental legislation and regulations.
Regulation of the Mining Industry in South Africa
The South African mining regulatory regime is comprehensive and requires regular reporting to applicable government departments. A failure to, among other things, comply with any such reporting requirements or the conditions of any mining license could result in extended mandatory shutdown periods, license and/or mining right suspensions or revocations all of which could impact our business.
In South Africa, the primary legislative enactments with which our mines are required to comply are the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (“MPRDA”) which governs the acquisition and retention of prospecting and mining rights. In addition, the Mine Health and Safety Act governs the manner in which mining must be conducted from a health and safety perspective, while the National Environmental Management Act (and its subsidiary legislation) provides the underlying framework with respect to environmental rules and regulation for which our operations must comply. For additional details regarding other South African legislative enactments that govern our mining licenses please see the section entitled “Risk Factors” set forth elsewhere in this Form 10-K.
Regulation of the Mining Industry in Australia
Each Australian state and territory has its own legislation regulating the exploration for and mining of minerals. Our key exploration and mining operations are regulated by the Mining Act 1978 (WA), the Mining Act 1992 (NSW) and their related regulations.
In Western Australia, State Agreements are contracts between the State and the proponents of major resources projects within Western Australia, and are intended to foster resource development and related infrastructure investments. These agreements are approved and ratified by the Parliament of Western Australia. The State Agreement relevant to the development of certain of our Western Australian operations is the agreement authorized by the Mineral Sands (Cooljarloo) Mining and Processing Agreement Act 1988 (WA). This agreement concluded in March 2020 and Tronox's rights and obligations are now covered by the Western Australian Mining Act.
Regulation of Finished Product Manufacturing
Our business is subject to extensive regulation by federal, state, local and foreign governments. Governmental authorities regulate the generation and treatment of waste and air emissions at our operations and facilities. At many of our operations, we also comply with worldwide, voluntary standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (“ISO”), a nongovernmental organization that promotes the development of standards and serves as a bridging organization for quality and environmental standards, such as ISO 9002 for quality management and ISO 14001 for environmental management.
As a chemical manufacturer with global operations, we are subject to a wide array of regulations regarding the import, export, labelling, use, storage and disposal of our products. We are obliged to comply with the regulation of chemical substances and inventories under the Toxic Substances Control Act in the United States and the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (“REACH”) regulation in Europe, as well as a growing list of analogous regimes in other parts of the world, including China, South Korea and Taiwan. Manufacturers and importers of chemical substances must register information regarding the properties of their existing chemical substances with the European Chemicals Agency (“ECHA”). REACH regulations also require chemical substances, which are newly imported or manufactured in the EU to be registered before being placed on the market. In addition, REACH requires registrants to update registrations within specified timelines, as well as when with there may be new information relevant to human health or environmental risks of the substance. In addition, REACH includes a mechanism to evaluate substances to determine if it poses risk to human health and/or the environment. In May 2016, France’s competent authority under REACH submitted a proposal to ECHA that would classify TiO2 pigment as carcinogenic in humans by inhalation. In February 2020, the European Commission adopted a regulation classifying the powder form of TiO2 as a Category 2 Carcinogen by inhalation. The labelling regulation will come into effect in October 2021. For additional information on this topic, see section entitled "Risk Factors - Risks Relating to our Business - The classification of TiO2 as a Category 2 Carcinogen in the European Union could result in more stringent regulatory control with respect to TiO2."
Greenhouse Gas Regulation
Globally, our operations are subject to regulations that seek to reduce emissions of “greenhouse gases” (“GHGs”). We currently report and manage GHG emissions as required by law for sites located in jurisdictions requiring such managing and reporting of GHGs, primarily the European Union and Australia.
Our public internet site is http://www.tronox.com. The content of our internet site is available for information purposes only and is included as an inactive textual reference. It should not be relied upon for investment purposes, nor is it incorporated by reference into this annual report on Form 10-K unless expressly noted. We make available, free of charge, on or through the investor relations section of our internet site, our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements and Forms 3, 4 and 5 filed on behalf of directors and executive officers, as well as any amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”) as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).
We file current, annual and quarterly reports, proxy statements and other information required by the Exchange Act with the SEC. Our SEC filings are also available to the public from the SEC’s internet site at http://www.sec.gov. The content of the SEC's internet site is available for informational purposes only and is included as an inactive textual reference. It should not be relied upon for investment purposes, nor is it incorporated by reference into this annual report on Form 10-K unless expressly noted.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Item 1A. Risk Factors
You should carefully consider the risk factors set forth below, as well as the other information contained in this Form 10-K, including our consolidated financial statements and related notes. This Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Any of the following risks could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations. Additional risks and uncertainties not currently known to us or those we currently view to be immaterial may also materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations. The following risk factors are not necessarily presented in order of relative importance and should not be considered to represent a complete set of all potential risks that could affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
RISKS RELATING TO OUR BUSINESS
Market conditions, as well as global and regional economic downturns that adversely affect the demand for our end-use products, could adversely affect the results of our operations and the prices at which we can sell our products, thus, negatively impacting our financial results.
Our revenue and results of operations are significantly dependent on sales of TiO2 products and zircon. Demand for these products historically have been linked to global, regional and local GDP and discretionary spending, which can be negatively impacted by regional and world events or economic and market conditions. Such events can cause a decrease in demand for our products and market prices to fall, which may have an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. A substantial portion of our products and raw materials are commodities that reprice as market supply and demand fundamentals change. Accordingly, product margins and the results of operations tend to vary with changes in the business cycle.
A significant portion of the demand for our TiO2 products comes from manufacturers of paint and plastics. A significant portion of the demand for zircon comes from the construction and other industrial end markets. Our customers may experience significant fluctuations in demand for their own end products because of economic conditions, changes in consumer demand, or increases in raw material and energy costs. In addition, with respect to the zircon market, we believe that China currently accounts for approximately 50% of the world’s demand for zircon. As such, any prolonged downturn in China could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial results.
The price of our products, in particular, TiO2, zircon, and pig iron, have been, and in the future may be, volatile. Price declines for our products will negatively affect our financial position and results of operations.
Historically, the global market for TiO2, zircon and pig iron have been volatile, and those markets are likely to remain volatile in the future. Prices for TiO2, zircon and pig iron may fluctuate in response to relatively minor changes in the supply of, and demand for, these products, market uncertainty and other factors beyond our control. Factors that affect the price of our products include, among other things:
•overall economic conditions;
•the level of customer demand particularly in the paint, plastics and construction industries;
•the level of production and exports of our products globally;
•the level of production and cost of materials used to produce our products;
•the cost of energy consumed in the production of TiO2 and zircon, including the price of natural gas, electricity and coal;
•the impact of competitors increasing their capacity and exports;
•domestic and foreign governmental relations, tariffs or other trade disputes, regulations and taxes; and
•political conditions or hostilities and unrest in regions where we export our TiO2, zircon and feedstock/other products.
Pricing pressure with respect to our TiO2 products, zircon and pig iron can make it difficult to predict the cash we may have on hand at any given time, and a prolonged period of price declines may materially and adversely affect our financial position, liquidity, ability to finance planned capital expenditures and results of operations.
The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected, and may continue to adversely affect, our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, including new strains of the virus, has adversely affected, and may continue to adversely affect, our business, financial condition and results of operations. We have significant sales and manufacturing operations in the U.S., Europe, South Africa, Brazil, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Australia, and each of these countries has been significantly affected by the outbreak and taken measures to try to contain it. These restrictive measures have adversely impacted, and may further adversely impact, our workforce and operations, the operations of our customers, and those of our respective vendors and suppliers. In addition, although our business is currently designated as “essential” to support the continued manufacturing of products such as food and medical packaging, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment, there is no assurance that such designation will continue or, notwithstanding such designation, that demand for our products will not decrease as a result of the pandemic. Any such future developments are dependent upon factors including, but are not limited to, the duration and spread of the outbreak, the severity of new strains of the virus, the actions to contain the virus or treat its impact, the effectiveness of treatments and vaccines, the size and effectiveness of the compensating measures taken by governments, including the failure to implement additional stimuli and how quickly and to what extent normal economic and operating conditions can resume.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased economic and demand uncertainty. It is possible that the continued spread of COVID-19, including new strains of the virus, will cause an additional economic slowdown, and it is possible that this could cause a global recession. Such adverse impact on the global economy is likely to adversely affect our performance, financial condition and results of operations, as well as our ability to successfully execute our business strategies and initiatives, such as the funding of capital expenditures, including by negatively impacting the demand for our products and services, negatively affecting the parties with whom we do business and disrupting our ability to conduct product development and other important business activities.
To the extent the COVID-19 pandemic continues to adversely affect the global economy, and/or adversely affects our business, operations or financial performance, it may also have the effect of increasing the likelihood and/or magnitude of other risks described in this section entitled “Risk Factors”. We are closely monitoring the potential adverse effects and impact on our operations, businesses and financial performance, including liquidity and capital usage, though the extent is difficult to fully predict at this time due to the rapid evolution of this uncertain situation.
Our industry and the end-use markets in which we compete are highly competitive. This competition may adversely affect our results of operations and operating cash flows.
Each of our markets is highly competitive. Competition in the TiO2 industry is based on a number of factors such as price, product quality, and service. We face significant competition from major international and smaller regional competitors, including producers in China. Moreover, Chinese producers have significantly expanded their production capacity in recent years and have also commenced the commercial production of TiO2 via chloride technology. The risk of substitution of these Chinese producers by our customers could increase as these Chinese producers expand their use of chloride technology, improve the quality of their chloride technology, and continue to improve the quality of their sulfate products. Moreover, we compete with a large number of mining companies with respect to zircon. Zircon producers generally compete on the basis of price, quality, logistics, delivery, and payment terms and consistency of supply.
Within the end-use markets in which we compete, competition between products is intense. We face substantial risk that our customers could switch to our competitors’ products in response to any number of developments including lower price offerings
by our competitors for substantially the same products, new product development by competitors, increased commercial production of TiO2 via chloride technology by Chinese producers, greater acceptance of TiO2 produced via sulfate technology in end-market applications previously characterized by TiO2 produced via chloride technology, or with respect to zircon customers, switching to lower priced substitute products. Our inability to develop, produce or market our products to compete effectively against our competitors could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flow.
An increase in the price of energy or other raw materials, or an interruption in our energy or other raw material supply, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Our mining, beneficiation, smelting and production processes consume significant amounts of energy and raw materials, the costs of which can be subject to worldwide, as well as, local supply and demand, as well as other factors beyond our control. Fuel and energy linked to commodities, such as diesel, heavy fuel oil and coal, and other consumables, such as chlorine, illuminating paraffin, electrodes, sulfur and anthracite, consumed in our TiO2 manufacturing and mining operations form an important part of our TiO2 operating costs. We have no control over the costs of these consumables, many of which are linked to some degree to the price of oil and coal, and the costs of many of these raw materials may fluctuate widely for a variety of reasons, including changes in availability, major capacity additions or reductions, or significant facility operating problems. These fluctuations could negatively affect our operating margins, our results of operations or planned capital expenditures. As these costs rise, our operating expenses will increase and could adversely affect our business, especially if we are unable to pass price increases in raw materials through to our customers.
The markets for many of our products have seasonally affected sales patterns.
The demand for our products is subject to seasonal fluctuations. TiO2 is widely used in paint and other coatings where demand increases prior to the painting season in the Northern Hemisphere (spring and summer). Additionally, although zircon is generally a non-seasonal product, it is negatively impacted by the winter and Chinese New Year celebrations due to reduced zircon demand from China. We may be adversely affected by existing or future cyclical changes, and such conditions may be sustained or further aggravated by anticipated or unanticipated changes in regional weather conditions. For example, poor weather conditions in a region can lead to an abbreviated painting season, which can depress consumer sales of paint products that use TiO2.
We are dependent on, and compete with other mining and chemical businesses for, key human resources in the countries in which we operate, and our business will suffer if we are unable to hire highly skilled employees or if our key officers or employees discontinue employment with us.
We compete with other chemical and mining companies, and other companies generally, in the countries in which we operate to attract and retain key human resources at all levels with the appropriate technical skills and operating and managerial experience necessary to continue operating and expanding our businesses. These operations use modern techniques and equipment and accordingly require various types of skilled workers. The success of our business will be materially dependent upon the skills, experience and efforts of our key officers and skilled employees. Competition for skilled employees may cost us in terms of higher labor costs or reduced productivity. As a result, we may not be able to attract and retain skilled and experienced employees. Should we lose any of our key personnel or fail to attract and retain key qualified personnel or other skilled employees, our business may be harmed and our operational results and financial condition could be affected.
If we are unable to innovate and successfully introduce new products, or new technologies or processes reduce the demand for our products or the price at which we can sell products, our results of operations could be adversely affected.
Our industries and the end-use markets into which we sell our products experience periodic technological change and product improvement. Our financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected if we are unable to gauge the direction of commercial and technological progress in key end-use markets or if we fail to fund and successfully develop, manufacture and market products in such changing end-use markets.
In addition, new technologies or processes have the potential to replace or provide lower-cost alternatives to our products, such as new processes that reduce the amount of TiO2 or zircon content in consumer products which in turn could depress the demand and pricing for TiO2 or zircon, respectively. We cannot predict whether technological innovations will, in the future, result in a lower demand for our products or affect the competitiveness of our business. We may be required to invest significant resources to adapt to changing technologies, markets and competitive environments.
Given the nature of our chemical, mining and smelting operations, we face a material risk of liability, production delays and additional expenditures from environmental and industrial accidents.
Our business is exposed to, among other things, environmental hazards and industrial accidents the occurrence of which could delay production, suspend operations, increase repair, maintenance or medical costs and, due to the vertical integration of our operations, could have an adverse effect on the productivity and results of operations of a particular manufacturing facility or on our business as a whole. Furthermore, during operational breakdowns resulting from any such environmental hazard or industrial accident, the relevant facility may not be restored to full operations within the anticipated timeframe, which could result in further business losses. Over our operating history, we have incurred incidents of this nature. If any of the equipment on which we depend were severely damaged or were destroyed by fire, flooding, or otherwise, we may be unable to replace or repair it in a timely manner or at a reasonable cost, which would impact our ability to produce and ship our products, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Equipment failures and deterioration of assets may lead to production curtailments, shutdowns or additional expenditures.
Our operations depend upon critical equipment that must periodically maintained and upgraded in order to avoid suffering unanticipated breakdowns or failures. As a result, our mining operations and processing plants may be interrupted or curtailed by equipment failures, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations. In addition, assets critical to our mining and chemical processing operations may deteriorate due to wear and tear or otherwise sooner than we currently estimate. Such deterioration may result in additional maintenance spending and additional capital expenditures. If these assets do not generate the amount of future cash flows that we expect, and we are not able to refurbish them or procure replacement assets in an economically feasible manner, our future results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.
Our results of operations and financial condition could be seriously impacted by security breaches, including cybersecurity incidents.
We rely on information technology systems across our operations to manage our accounting, finance, and supply chain functions. Our information technology is provided by a combination of internal and external services and service providers. Further, our business involves the use, processing, storage and transmission of information about customers, suppliers and employees using such information technology systems. Our ability to effectively operate our business depends on the security, reliability and capacity of these systems.
Like most major corporations, we may become the target of cyberattacks, including industrial espionage or ransomware attacks, from time to time. For instance, the Cristal business we acquired in April 2019 was subject to a significant cybersecurity attack in 2017. Failure to effectively prevent, detect and recover from security breaches, including attacks on information technology and infrastructure by hackers; viruses; breaches due to employee error or actions; or other disruptions could seriously harm our operations as well as the operations of our customers and suppliers. Such serious harm can involve, among other things, misuse of our assets, business disruptions, loss of data, unauthorized access to trade secrets and confidential business information, unauthorized access to personal information, legal claims or proceedings, reporting errors, processing inefficiencies, negative media attention, reputational harm, loss of sales, remediation and increased insurance costs, and interference with regulatory compliance. We have experienced, and expect to continue to experience, these types of cybersecurity threats and incidents, which may be material.
We have put in place security measures designed to protect against cyberattacks, security breaches and misappropriation or corruption of our systems, intentional or unintentional disclosure of confidential information, or disruption of our operations. As these threats continue to evolve, particularly around cybersecurity, we may be required to expend significant resources to enhance our control environment, processes, practices and other protective measures. Despite these efforts, we may not be able to prevent cyberattacks and other security breaches and such events could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Our ore resources and reserve estimates are based on a number of assumptions, including mining and recovery factors, future cash costs of production and ore demand and pricing. As a result, ore resources and reserve quantities actually produced may differ from current estimates.
The mineral resource and reserve estimates are estimates of the quantity and ore grades in our mines based on the interpretation of geological data obtained from drill holes and other sampling techniques, as well as from feasibility studies. The accuracy of these estimates is dependent on the assumptions and judgments made in interpreting the geological data in accordance with established guidelines and standards. Our mineral reserves represent the amount of ore that we believe can be economically mined and processed, and are estimated based on a number of factors, which have been stated in accordance with SEC Industry
Guide 7, the South African Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves 2007 version, as amended SAMREC and the Australian code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources the Joint Ore Reserves Committee Code (2012) (JORC).
There is significant uncertainty in any mineral reserve or mineral resource estimate. Factors that are beyond our control, such as the ability to secure mineral rights, the sufficiency of mineralization to support mining and beneficiation practices and the suitability of the market may significantly impact mineral resource and reserve estimates. The actual deposits encountered and the economic viability of mining a deposit may differ materially from our estimates. Since these mineral resources and reserves are estimates based on assumptions, we may revise these estimates in the future as we become aware of new developments. To maintain TiO2 feedstock and zircon production beyond the expected lives of our existing mines or to increase production materially above projected levels, we will need to access additional reserves through exploration or discovery.
RISKS RELATING TO THE GLOBAL NATURE OF OUR BUSINESS
We are exposed to the risks of operating a global business.
We have operations in jurisdictions around the globe which subjects us to a number of risks, including:
•adapting to unfamiliar regional and geopolitical conditions and demands, including political instability, civil unrest, expropriation, nationalization of properties by a government, imposition of sanctions, changes to import or export regulations and fees, renegotiation or nullification of existing agreements, mining leases and permits;
•increased difficulties with regard to political and social attitudes, laws, rules, regulations and policies within countries that favor domestic companies over non-domestic companies, including customer- or government-supported efforts to promote the development and growth of local competitors;
•economic and commercial instability risks, including those caused by sovereign and private debt default, corruption, and new and unfamiliar laws and regulations at national, regional and local levels, including taxation regimes, tariffs and trade barriers, exchange controls, repatriation of earnings, and labor and environmental and health and safety laws and regulations;
•implementation of additional technological and cybersecurity measures and cost reduction efforts, including restructuring activities, which may adversely affect our ability to capitalize on opportunities;
•major public health issues which could cause, and have caused, disruptions in our operations or workforce;
•war or terrorist activities;
•difficulties enforcing intellectual property and contractual rights in certain jurisdictions; and
•unexpected events, including fires or explosions at facilities, and natural disasters.
Political and social instability, and unrest, and actual, or potential, armed conflicts in the Middle East region may affect the Company’s results of operations and financial position.
Our operations in KSA have been affected in the past, and may be affected in the future, by the political, social and economic conditions from time to time prevailing in, or affecting, KSA or the wider Middle East region, including by rocket attacks from armed rebel groups. For example, since 2011, a number of countries in the Middle East region have witnessed significant social unrest, including widespread public demonstrations, and, in certain cases, armed conflict, terrorist attacks, diplomatic disputes, foreign military intervention and a change of government. In addition, KSA faces a number of challenges arising mainly from the relatively high levels of unemployment among the Saudi youth population, requests for political and social changes, and the security threat posed by certain groups. Should KSA experience similar political and social unrest as found in other countries in the Middle East, the Saudi Arabian economy could be adversely affected, our TiO2 plant located in Yanbu could be temporarily disrupted or materially adversely affected and our business and operating results could be materially adversely affected.
In addition, one of our TiO2 pigment plants is located in Yanbu, and the Slagger, that is subject to the Option or Put, is located in Jazan. Yanbu and Jazan have both been subject to rocket attacks from armed rebel groups fighting the KSA military in Yemen which could materially adversely affect our business and operating results.
South Africa, where we have large mining assets and derive a significant portion of our revenue and profit, poses distinct operational risks which could affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In South Africa, we currently operate two significant mining assets, as well as accompanying separation plants and smelting operations, and derive a significant portion of our profit from the sale of zircon. Our mining and smelting operations depend on electrical power generated by Eskom, the sole, state-owned energy supplier. Eskom has not been able to reliably provide electrical power and as a result “load-shedding” (planned and unplanned rolling power outages) is expected for the foreseeable future. In
addition, South African electricity prices have risen during the past few years, and future price increases are expected to occur. As such, restrictions or additional conditions imposed by Eskom such as load shedding, electricity restrictions and/or electricity price increases could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions or results of operations.
In addition, our KZN Sands operations currently use approximately 360,000 gigajoules of Sasol gas, which is available only from Sasol Limited. As such, an interruption in the supply of Sasol gas could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions or results of operations.
Moreover, certain regions of South Africa have experienced in the past, and are prone to, drought conditions resulting in water restrictions being imposed in such areas. We use significant amounts of water in our South African operations. A prolonged drought in a region of South Africa where our operations are located may lead to water use restrictions which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. In addition, under South African law, our South African mining operations are subject to water-use licenses that govern each operation. These licenses require, among other conditions, that mining operations achieve and maintain certain water quality limits for all water discharges, where applicable. Changes to water-use licenses could increase our costs of operations thereby affecting our operational results and financial condition.
Our operations in South Africa are also reliant on services provided by the State-owned, sole provider of rail transport, Transnet. Furthermore, Transnet provides extensive dockside services at both the ports of Richards Bay and Saldanha Bay via Transnet Port Authority. Delays or interruptions at either the rail service or the ports in which we receive and/or export material could have a negative impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The aforementioned operational risks, as well as any other foreseen or unforeseen operational risks primarily related to doing business in South Africa, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
As an emerging market, South Africa poses a challenging array of long-term political and economic risks.
South Africa continues to undergo political and economic challenges. Changes to, or instability in, the economic or political environment in South Africa, especially if such changes create political instability, actual or potential shortages of production materials or labor unrest, could result in production delays and production shortfalls, and materially impact our production and results of operations.
The South African government has recently embarked on a process of identifying and securing land for persons who were previously dispossessed of such land as a result of Apartheid policies. In December 2019, the South African government released a draft land expropriation bill for public comment. The land expropriation bill contemplates that, where it is in the “public interest”, land may be expropriated by the South African government, without compensation being payable to the current owners. While the South African government has indicated that such measures will be applied initially to state-owned land, it is possible that such measures may extend to agricultural and mining areas. In the event that the land on which the Namakwa Sands and KZN Sands operations are situated areas become the subject of a land claim under any such proposed or future land expropriation bill, it may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
In addition, South Africa’s exchange control regulations require resident companies to obtain the prior approval of the South African Reserve Bank to raise capital in any currency other than the Rand, and restrict the export of capital from South Africa. While the South African government has relaxed exchange controls in recent years, it is difficult to predict whether or how it will further change or abolish exchange control measures in the future. These exchange control restrictions could hinder our financial and strategic flexibility, particularly our ability to use South African capital to fund acquisitions, capital expenditures, and new projects outside of South Africa.
Moreover, our operations have been affected by inflation in South Africa in recent years. Employment costs and wages in South Africa have increased in recent years, resulting in significant cost pressures for the mining industry. Prolonged or heightened inflation and associated cost pressures could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
In addition, our South African operations have entered into various collective agreements with organized labor regulating wages and working conditions at our mines and smelter operations. There have been periods when various stakeholders have been unable to agree on dispute resolution processes, leading to threats of disruptive industrial action disputes. Due to the high level of employee union membership, our South African operations are at risk of production stoppages for indefinite periods due to strikes and other labor disputes. Although we believe that we have good labor relations with our South African employees, we may experience labor disputes in the future.
Although we believe that our relationships with our various local communities are good, the areas in which our South African operations are situated are the traditional homelands of various tribal groupings that are historically politically volatile. This volatility persists today and frequently results in violent, destructive behaviors. Increased volatility and any consequential civil unrest may result in production stoppages and/or the destruction of assets which comprise our South African operations, any of which could have an material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Economic conditions and regulatory changes following the U.K.’s exit from the E.U. could adversely impact our operations, operating results and financial condition.
The U.K. has withdrawn from the E.U. (often referred to as Brexit). Since December 31, 2020, the U.K. has left the E.U. customs union and single market and is no longer required to follow E.U. laws. It is expected that Brexit will impact economic conditions in the U.K. and the E.U. but given the lack of comparable precedent, it is unclear what financial, trade and legal implications the withdrawal of the U.K. from the E.U. will have and how such withdrawal will affect us.
The consequences of Brexit could adversely impact the markets in which we and our customers operate. Brexit could also create uncertainty with respect to the legal and regulatory requirements to which we are subject and lead to divergent national laws and regulations as the U.K. government determines which E.U. laws to replace or replicate. Due to Brexit, adverse consequences such as deterioration in economic conditions, volatility in currency exchange rates or adverse changes in regulation could have a negative impact on our future operations, operating results and financial condition.
Our results of operations may be adversely affected by fluctuations in currency exchange rates.
The financial condition and results of operations of our operating entities outside the U.S. are reported in various foreign currencies, primarily the South African Rand, Australian Dollars, Euros, Pound Sterling and Brazilian Real and then converted into U.S. dollars at the applicable exchange rate for inclusion in the financial statements. A significant portion of our costs are denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar. As a result, any volatility of the U.S. dollar against these foreign currencies creates uncertainty for, and may have a negative impact on, reported sales and operating margin. In addition, our operating entities often need to convert currencies they receive for their products into currencies in which they purchase raw materials or pay for services, which could result in a gain or loss depending on fluctuations in exchange rates. In order to manage this risk, we have, from time to time, entered into forward contracts to buy and sell foreign currencies.
RISKS RELATING TO OUR DEBT AND CAPITAL STRUCTURE
We are a holding company that is dependent on cash flows from our operating subsidiaries to fund our debt obligations, capital expenditures and ongoing operations.
All of our operations are conducted, and all of our assets are owned, by our operating companies, which are our subsidiaries. We intend to continue to conduct our operations at the operating company level. Consequently, our cash flow and our ability to meet our obligations or make cash distributions depends upon the cash flow of our operating companies, and the payment of funds by our operating companies in the form of dividends or otherwise. The ability of our operating companies to make any payments to us depends on their earnings, the terms of their indebtedness, including the terms of any credit facilities, or indentures, and legal restrictions regarding the transfer of funds.
Our ability to service our debt and fund our planned capital expenditures and ongoing operations will depend on our ability to generate and increase cash flow, and our access to additional liquidity sources. Our ability to generate and increase cash flow is dependent on many factors, including many of other risks described in this section entitled “Risk Factors”.
The agreements and instruments governing our debt contain restrictions and limitations that could affect our ability to operate our business, as well as impact our liquidity.
As of December 31, 2020, our total principal amount of debt was approximately $3.4 billion. Our credit facilities contain covenants that could adversely affect our ability to operate our business, our liquidity, and our results of operations. These covenants may restrict, among other things, our and our subsidiaries' ability to:
•incur or guarantee additional indebtedness;
•complete asset sales, acquisitions or mergers;
•make investments and capital expenditures;
•prepay other indebtedness;
•enter into transactions with affiliates; and
•fund additional dividends or repurchase shares.
Certain of our indebtedness facilities and senior notes include requirements relating to the ratio of adjusted EBITDA to indebtedness or certain fixed charges. The breach of any covenants or obligations in our credit facilities, not otherwise waived or amended, could result in a default under the applicable debt obligations (and cross-defaults to certain other debt obligations) and could trigger acceleration of those obligations, which in turn could trigger other cross defaults under other existing or future agreements governing our long-term indebtedness. In addition, the secured lenders under the credit facilities could foreclose on their collateral, which includes equity interests in our subsidiaries, and exercise other rights of secured creditors. Any default under those credit facilities could adversely affect our growth, our financial condition, our results of operations and our ability to make payments on our credit facilities, and could force us to seek the protection of bankruptcy laws.
We may need additional capital in the future and may not be able to obtain it on favorable terms, and such capital expenditure projects may not realize expected investment returns.
Our business is capital intensive, and our success depends to a significant degree on our ability to maintain our manufacturing operations and invest in those operations to expand capacity and remain competitive from a cost perspective. We may require additional capital in the future to finance capital investments, including any new mines that replace mines that are end of life, potential expansion or optimization of existing production facilities or mining operations, fund ongoing research and development activities and meet general working capital needs. For instance, in 2020 we began the implementation of a multi-year global digital transformation strategy that is expected to include the establishment of increased automation of both operational and financial systems, including the global ERP, through new and upgraded systems, technology and processes. The risks relating to such digital transformation include any new information and operational technologies not being properly designed, integrated, managed, and/or implemented in a timely manner which could significantly increase the program’s costs, and negatively impact our operations, including, our plant’s system safety, functionality and effectiveness. Although we have taken, and will continue to take, significant steps to mitigate the potential negative impact of the implementation of such new digital systems, there can be no assurance that these procedures will be completely successful. Additionally, we entered into the Option Agreement with AMIC pursuant to which AMIC granted us an option to acquire 90% of a SPV, to which AMIC’s ownership in the Slagger will be contributed together with $322 million of indebtedness currently held by AMIC. Upon exercise of the Option or Put, there can be no assurance that we may assume this indebtedness and may need to obtain funding to repay it at maturity. In the event we require any additional financing, such financing may not be available when needed on terms favorable to us, or at all. If we are unable to obtain adequate funds on acceptable terms, we may be unable to maintain, expand or lower the operating costs of our facilities or take advantage of future opportunities or respond to competitive pressures, which could harm our results of operations, financial condition and business prospects. Additionally, if we undertake these projects, they may not be completed on schedule, at the budgeted cost, or at all. Moreover, our revenue may not increase immediately upon the expenditure of funds on a particular project. As a result, we may not be able to realize our expected investment return, which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
RISKS RELATING TO OUR LEGAL AND REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
Our South African mining rights are subject to onerous regulatory requirements imposed by legislation and the Department of Mineral Resources (the “DMR”), the compliance of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Black economic empowerment (“BEE”) legislation was introduced into South Africa as a means to seek to redress the inequalities of the previous apartheid system by requiring the inclusion of historically disadvantaged South Africans in the mainstream economy. Under BEE legislation, certain of our operations are required to be partially owned by historically disadvantaged South Africans --- known as “empowerment” --- and comply with Mining Charter III which came into effect as of March 1, 2019. Under the “empowerment” rules of Mining Charter III, certain of our operations require a 30% BEE shareholding that must be structured through a special purpose vehicle comprised of black entrepreneurs, the local community surrounding the relevant mining area and eligible employees. In addition, Mining Charter III sets forth more stringent requirements applicable to all of our South African operations with regard to the procurement of goods and services from BEE compliant entities, race, age and gender based employment quotas; and workers’ housing and living conditions. While we believe we are currently in compliance with the provisions of Mining Charter III, the implementation guidelines are complex and remain untested. As a result, the manner in which Mining Charter III is enforced by the DMR may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Prior to Mining Charter III, black empowerment in the South African mining sector was governed by Mining Charter II. Under Mining Charter II, our South African operations were “empowered” by a 26% ownership interest in two of our South African subsidiaries by Exxaro which prior to 2017 was greater than 50% owned by historically disadvantaged South Africans.
We believe that under Mining Charter III the two South African subsidiaries in which Exxaro held 26% became permanently “empowered” --- so-called, “once empowered always empowered”. See "Risk Factors-We may elect to exercise certain "flip-in" rights to buy-out Exxaro's 26% ownership rights in our South African subsidiaries which might negatively impact the ownership of our heavy mineral sands mining rights" for more information.
“Once empowered always empowered” means that a South African company that has had the requisite shareholding base consisting of historically disadvantaged South Africans as at December 31, 2014 will always qualify as an “empowered” entity for purposes of the retention of an existing mining right for the duration of that right. The question of whether the “once empowered always empowered” principle applies in the mining industry in South Africa has been subject to litigation between the Minerals Council of South Africa (the “Minerals Council”) (formerly the Chamber of Mines, an industry body that represents approximately 90% of the South African Mining Industry) and the DMR. Although the South African High Court decided in the affirmative for the Minerals Council, the DMR has appealed the High Court ruling and the outcome remains pending. It is our opinion that the “once empowered always empowered” is applicable to our existing mining rights, but not in respect of applications for renewals of existing mining rights or applications for new mining rights made under the Mining Charter III. If DMR were to challenge our compliance with Mining Charter III or “once empowered always empowered” is otherwise not fully recognized, our business, financial condition or results of operation could be adversely affected.
Hence, with respect to the mining operations currently owned by the two subsidiaries in which Exxaro holds a 26% minority ownership interest, for the duration of our current mining rights we believe we are in compliance with all relevant BEE requirements regardless of Exxaro’s ownership interest. However, Mining Charter III requires that applications for renewals of existing mining rights or any new mining rights that we may desire to acquire in the future will require 30% historically disadvantaged South African ownership in the ratios set out in Mining Charter III.
We may elect to exercise certain “flip in” rights to buy-out Exxaro’s 26% ownership rights in our South African subsidiaries which might negatively impact the ownership of our heavy mineral sands mining rights.
In connection with the 2012 transaction with Exxaro, Exxaro was granted a “flip in” right such that following the occurrence of certain events, Exxaro would be entitled to exchange its 26% shareholding in our South African operating subsidiaries which hold our mining licenses for an additional 7.2 million ordinary shares. On November 26, 2018, we, certain of our subsidiaries and Exxaro entered into the Exxaro Mineral Sands Transaction Completion Agreement (the “Completion Agreement”) which amends the “flip-in” rights granted to Exxaro so that we may, subject to certain conditions, accelerate the occurrence of the “flip in.” If we elect to accelerate the “flip in” there can be no assurance that the DMR will not challenge our right to continue to operate our mineral sands mining operations based upon the failure of our South African subsidiaries to comply with all applicable BEE requirements. If DMR’s challenge is successful, our existing mining rights could be suspended or revoked which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions or results of operations.
Our failure to comply with the anti-corruption laws of the U.S. and various international jurisdictions could negatively impact our reputation and results of operations.
Doing business on a global basis requires us to comply with the laws and regulations of the U.S. government and those of various international jurisdictions, and our failure to successfully comply with these rules and regulations may expose us to liabilities. In particular, our operations are subject to U.S. and foreign anti-corruption laws and regulations, such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), the U.K. Bribery Act 2010 (“U.K. Bribery Act”), as well as anti-corruption laws of the various jurisdictions in which we operate. Our global operations may expose us to the risk of violating, or being accused of violating, the foregoing or other anti-corruption laws. Such violations could be punishable by criminal fines, imprisonment, civil penalties, disgorgement of profits, injunctions, and exclusion from government contracts, as well as other remedial measures. Investigations of alleged violations can be very expensive, disruptive, and damaging to our reputation. Although we have implemented anti-corruption policies and procedures, there can be no guarantee that these policies, procedures, and training will effectively prevent violations by our employees or representatives in the future. Additionally, we face a risk that our distributors and other business partners may violate the FCPA, the U.K. Bribery Act, or similar laws or regulations. Such violations could expose us to FCPA and U.K. Bribery Act liability and/or our reputation may potentially be harmed by their violations and resulting sanctions and fines.
The classification of TiO2 as a Category 2 Carcinogen in the European Union could result in more stringent regulatory control of our products.
In May 2016, France’s competent authority under the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restrictions of Chemicals (“REACH”) submitted a proposal to the European Chemicals Agency (“ECHA”) that would classify TiO2 as carcinogenic in humans by inhalation. In February 2020, the European Commission adopted a regulation classifying the powder
form of TiO2 as a Category 2 Carcinogen by inhalation. The labelling regulation will come into effect in approximately October 2021. The classification of our products as a Category 2 Carcinogen could impact our business by inhibiting the marketing of products containing TiO2 to consumers, and subject our manufacturing operations to new regulations that could increase costs. The recent classification and labelling requirements imposed by the European Commission could have additional effects under other EU laws (e.g., those affecting medical and pharmaceutical applications, cosmetics, food packaging and food additives) and/or trigger heightened regulatory scrutiny in countries and local jurisdictions outside the EU based on health and safety grounds. It is also possible that heightened regulatory scrutiny would lead to claims by consumers or those involved in the production of such products alleging adverse health impacts. In addition, there is no assurance that other materials could also be subject to increased regulation which could impact the cost of labelling or the sales of our products.
We may be subject to litigation, the disposition of which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.
The nature of our operations exposes us to possible litigation claims, including disputes with competitors, customers, equipment vendors, environmental groups and other non-governmental organizations, and providers of shipping services. Some of the lawsuits may seek fines or penalties and damages in large amounts, or seek to restrict our business activities. Because of the uncertain nature of any litigation and coverage decisions, we cannot predict the outcome of these matters or whether insurance claims may mitigate any damages to us. Litigation is very costly, and the costs associated with prosecuting and defending litigation matters could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. See Note 20 of notes to our consolidated financial statements, included elsewhere in this Form 10-K for further information regarding our commitments and contingencies.
Our flexibility in managing our labor force may be adversely affected by labor and employment laws in the jurisdictions in which we operate, many of which are more onerous than those of the U.S.; and some of our labor force has substantial workers' council or trade union participation, which creates a risk of disruption from labor disputes and new laws affecting employment policies.
The vast majority of our employees are located outside the U.S. In most of those countries, labor and employment laws are more onerous than in the U.S. and, in many cases, grant significant job protection to employees, including rights on termination of employment. Moreover, many of our workforce outside the U.S. belong to unions and/or are represented by a collective bargaining agreement. As such, in such jurisdictions we are required to consult with, and seek the consent or advice of, various employee groups or works’ councils that represent our employees for any changes to our activities or employee benefits. This requirement could have a significant impact on our flexibility in managing costs and responding to market changes.
We are subject to many environmental, health and safety regulations that may result in unanticipated costs or liabilities, which could reduce our profitability.
Our operations and production facilities are subject to extensive environmental and health and safety laws and regulations at national, international and local levels in numerous jurisdictions relating to use of natural resources, pollution, protection of the environment, mine site remediation, transporting and storing raw materials and finished products, and storing and disposing of hazardous wastes among other materials. Moreover, certain environmental laws impose joint and several and/or strict liability for costs to clean up and restore sites where pollutants have been disposed or otherwise spilled or released. We cannot be certain that we will not incur significant costs and liabilities for remediation or damage to property, natural resources or persons as a result of spills or releases from our operations or those of a third party.
The costs of compliance with the extensive environmental, health and safety laws and regulations or the inability to obtain, update or renew permits required for operation or expansion of our business could negatively impact our results of operations or otherwise adversely affect our business. If we fail to comply with the conditions of our permits governing the production and management of regulated materials, mineral sands mining licenses or leases or the provisions of the relevant jurisdictional laws in which we operate, these permits, mining licenses or leases and mining rights could be canceled or suspended, and we could be prevented from obtaining new mining and prospecting rights, which could materially and adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition. Additionally, we could incur substantial costs, including fines, damages, criminal or civil sanctions and remediation costs, or experience interruptions in our operations, for violations arising under these laws and regulations, including operating without the required permits, mining licenses or leases and/or mining rights. In the event of a catastrophic incident involving any of the raw materials we use, or chemicals or mineral products we produce, we could incur material costs as a result of addressing the consequences of such event.
Changes to existing laws governing operations, especially changes in laws relating to transportation of mineral resources, the treatment of land and infrastructure, contaminated land, the remediation of mines, tax royalties, waste handling and management, exchange control restrictions, environmental remediation, mineral rights, ownership of mining assets, or the rights to prospect and mine may have a material adverse effect on our future business operations and financial performance. There is risk that onerous
conditions may be attached to authorizations in the form of mining rights, water-use licenses, miscellaneous licenses and environmental approvals, or that the grant of these approvals may be delayed or not granted.
If our intellectual property were compromised or copied by competitors, or if competitors were to develop similar intellectual property independently, our results of operations could be negatively affected. Further, third parties may claim that we infringe on their intellectual property rights which could result in costly litigation.
Our success depends to a significant degree upon our ability to protect and preserve our patents and unpatented proprietary technology, operational knowledge and other trade secrets (collectively "intellectual property rights"). While we maintain policies to enter into confidentiality agreements with our employees and third parties to protect our intellectual property rights such rights may be challenged, invalidated, circumvented, and found unenforceable or otherwise compromised. In addition, we may be unable to determine when third parties are using our intellectual property rights without our authorization. The undetected or unremedied unauthorized use of our intellectual property rights or the legitimate development or acquisition of intellectual property related to our industry by third parties could reduce or eliminate any competitive advantage we have as a result of our intellectual property rights. If we must take legal action to protect, defend or enforce our intellectual property rights, any suits or proceedings could result in significant costs and diversion of our resources and our management’s attention, and we may not prevail in any such suits or proceedings. A failure to protect, defend or enforce our intellectual property rights could have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Although there are currently no pending or threatened proceedings or claims known to us that are material relating to alleged infringement, misappropriation or violation of the intellectual property rights of others, we may be subject to legal proceedings and claims in the future in which third parties allege that their patents or other intellectual property rights are infringed, misappropriated or otherwise violated by us or our products or processes. In the event that any such infringement, misappropriation or violation of the intellectual property rights of others is found, we may need to obtain licenses from those parties or substantially re-engineer our products or processes to avoid such infringement, misappropriation or violation. We might not be able to obtain the necessary licenses on acceptable terms or be able to re-engineer our products or processes successfully. Moreover, if we are found by a court of law to infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate the intellectual property rights of others, we could be required to pay substantial damages or be enjoined from making, using or selling the infringing products or technology. We also could be enjoined from making, using or selling the allegedly infringing products or technology pending the final outcome of the suit. Any of the foregoing could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
RISKS RELATING TO ACCOUNTING AND TAXATION
If our intangible assets or other long-lived assets become impaired, we may be required to record a significant noncash charge to earnings.
We have a significant amount of intangible assets and other long-lived assets on our consolidated balance sheets. Under U.S. GAAP, we review our intangible assets and other long-lived assets for impairment when events or changes in circumstances indicate the carrying value may not be recoverable. Factors that may be considered a change in circumstances, indicating that the carrying value of our intangible assets and other long-lived assets may not be recoverable, include, but are not limited to, a significant decline in share price and market capitalization, changes in the industries in which we operate, particularly the impact of a downturn in the global economy, as well as competition or other factors leading to reduction in expected long-term sales or results of operations. We may be required to record a significant noncash charge in our financial statements during the period in which any impairment of our intangible assets and other long-lived assets is determined, negatively impacting our results of operations.
Our ability to use our tax attributes to offset future income may be limited.
Our ability to use net operating losses (“NOLs”) and Section 163(j) interest expense carryforwards generated by us could be substantially limited if we were to experience an “ownership change” as defined under Section 382 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended ("the Code"). In general, an ownership change would occur if our “5-percent shareholders,” as defined under Section 382 of the Code and including certain groups of persons treated as “5-percent shareholders,” collectively increased their ownership in us by more than 50 percentage points over a rolling three-year period. Pursuant to the Completion Agreement, Exxaro has agreed to sell down its remaining ownership interest in us in a manner that we believe will not cause us to become subject to the limitations set forth in Section 382 of the Code on the future use of the benefits of approximately $4.4 billion of NOLs and approximately $945 million of Section 163(j) interest expense carryforwards. Although we believe the Completion Agreement and the re-domiciling transaction that changed our country of incorporation from Australia to England should provide sufficient protection of our NOLs and/or Section 163(j) interest expense carryforwards, there can be no assurance that an ownership change for U.S. federal and applicable state income tax purposes will not occur in the future. A corporation that
experiences an ownership change will generally be subject to an annual limitation on the use of certain pre-ownership change losses and/or credits. Such a limitation could, for any given year, have the effect of increasing the amount of our U.S. federal and/or state income tax liability, which would negatively impact our financial condition and the amount of after-tax cash available for distribution to holders of our ordinary shares if declared by our board of directors.
We could be subject to changes in tax rates, adoption of new tax laws or additional tax liabilities.
We are subject to taxation in the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, Brazil and various other foreign jurisdictions. Our future effective tax rate could be affected by changes in statutory rates and other legislative changes, or changes in determinations regarding the jurisdictions in which we are subject to tax. From time to time, the U.S. federal, state and local and foreign governments make substantive changes to tax rules and their application, which could result in higher corporate taxes than would be incurred under existing tax law and could have an adverse effect on our results of operations or financial condition. From time to time, we are also subject to tax audits by various taxing authorities. Although we believe our tax positions are appropriate, the final determination of any future tax audits could be materially different from our income tax provisions, accruals and reserves and any such unfavorable outcome from a future tax audit could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations or financial condition.
Failure to meet some or all of our key financial and non-financial targets could negatively impact the value of our business and adversely affect our stock price.
From time to time, we may announce certain key financial and non-financial targets that are expected to serve as benchmarks for our performance for a given time period, such as, projections for our future revenue growth, Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted diluted earnings per share and free cash flow. Our failure to meet one or more of these key financial targets may negatively impact our results of operations, stock price, and stockholder returns. The factors influencing our ability to meet these key financial targets include, but are not limited to, changes in the global economic environment relating to our TiO2 products and zircon, changes in our competitive landscape, including our relationships with new or existing customers, our ability to introduce new products, applications, or technologies, our undertaking an acquisition, joint venture, or other strategic arrangement, and other factors described within this Item 1A – Risk Factors, many of which are beyond our control.
RISKS RELATING TO INVESTING IN OUR ORDINARY SHARES
Concentrated ownership of our ordinary shares by Cristal and Exxaro may prevent minority shareholders from influencing significant corporate decisions and may result in conflicts of interest.
As of December 31, 2020, Cristal Inorganic, an affiliate of Cristal, and Exxaro own approximately 26% and 10%, respectively, of our outstanding ordinary shares. In addition, Exxaro was previously granted a "flip in" right such that following the occurrence of certain events, Exxaro would be entitled to exchange its 26% shareholding in our South African operating subsidiaries for an additional 7.2 million ordinary shares (refer to additional information within the risk factor entitled, "We may elect to exercise certain "flip in" rights to buy-out Exxaro's 26% ownership rights in our South African subsidiaries which might negatively impact the ownership of our heavy mineral sands mining rights" below). As such, Cristal Inorganic and Exxaro may be able to influence fundamental corporate matters and transactions. This concentration of ownership, may delay, deter or prevent acts that would be favored by our other shareholders. The interests of Cristal Inorganic and Exxaro may not always coincide with our interests or the interests of our other shareholders. Also, Cristal Inorganic and Exxaro may seek to cause us to take courses of action that, in their judgment, could enhance their investment in us, but which might involve risks to our other shareholders or adversely affect us or our other shareholders.
In addition, under the shareholders agreement (the “Cristal Shareholders Agreement”) we entered into at the closing of the Cristal Transaction with Cristal, as long as Cristal Inorganic and the three shareholders of Cristal (collectively, the “Cristal Shareholders”) collectively beneficially own at least 24,900,000 or more of our ordinary shares, they have the right to designate for nomination two directors of our board of directors (the “Board”). As long as the Cristal Shareholders collectively beneficially own at least 12,450,000 ordinary shares but less than 24,900,000 ordinary shares, they have the right to designate for nomination one director of the Board. The Cristal Shareholders Agreement also provides that as long as the Cristal Shareholders collectively beneficially own at least 12,450,000 ordinary shares they have certain preemptive rights. Also, pursuant to the Cristal Shareholders Agreement, we have filed a universal shelf registration statement which is currently effective and which currently would cover 6,532,738 shares owned by Cristal as well as any shares owned by Exxaro. Other than with respect to those shares, the Cristal Shareholders Agreement includes certain restrictions on Cristal Inorganic’s ability to transfer any of its ordinary shares prior to December 31, 2022 if such transfer would cause an "ownership change" as defined under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code.
As a result of these or other factors, including as a result of any offering of shares by Cristal or Exxaro, or the perception that such sales may occur, the market price of our ordinary shares could decline. In addition, this concentration of share ownership may adversely affect the trading price of our ordinary shares because investors may perceive disadvantages in owning shares in a company with significant shareholders or with significant outstanding shares with registration rights.
English law and provisions in our articles of association may have anti-takeover effects that could discourage an acquisition of us by others, even if an acquisition would be beneficial to our shareholders, and may prevent attempts by our shareholders to replace or remove our current management.
Certain provisions of the U.K. Companies Act 2006 (the “Companies Act”) and our articles of association may have the effect of delaying or preventing a change in control of us or changes in our management. For example, our articles of association include provisions that:
•maintain an advance notice procedure for proposed nominations of persons for election to our board of directors;
•provide certain mandatory offer provisions, including, among other provisions, that a shareholder, together with persons acting in concert, that acquires 30 percent or more of our issued shares without making an offer to all of our other shareholders that is in cash or accompanied by a cash alternative would be at risk of certain sanctions from our board of directors unless they acted with the prior consent of our board of directors or the prior approval of the shareholders; and
•provide that vacancies on our board of directors may be filled by a vote of the directors or by an ordinary resolution of the shareholders.
In addition, public limited companies are prohibited under the Companies Act from taking shareholder action by written resolution. These provisions, alone or together, could delay or prevent hostile takeovers and changes in control or changes in our management.
Although we do not anticipate being subject to the U.K. City Code on Takeovers and Mergers, such Takeover Code may still have anti-takeover effects in the event the Takeover Panel determines that such Code is applicable to us.
The U.K. City Code on Takeovers and Mergers (the “Takeover Code”) applies, among other things, to an offer for a public company whose registered office is in the U.K. (or the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man) and whose securities are not admitted to trading on a regulated market in the U.K. (or on any stock exchange in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man) if the company is considered by the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers (the “Takeover Panel”) to have its place of central management and control in the U.K. (or the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man). This is known as the “residency test.” The test for central management and control under the Takeover Code is different from that used by the U.K. tax authorities. Under the Takeover Code, the Takeover Panel will determine whether we have our place of central management and control in the U.K. by looking at various factors, including the structure of our board of directors, the functions of the directors and where they are resident.
Given that a majority of the members of our Board of Directors reside outside the United Kingdom, we do not anticipate that we will be subject to the Takeover Code. However, if at the time of a takeover offer, the Takeover Panel determines that we have our place of central management and control in the U.K., we would be subject to a number of rules and restrictions, including but not limited to the following: (1) our ability to enter into deal protection arrangements with a bidder would be extremely limited; (2) we might not, without the approval of our shareholders, be able to perform certain actions that could have the effect of frustrating an offer, such as issuing shares or carrying out acquisitions or disposals; and (3) we would be obliged to provide equality of information to all bona fide competing bidders.
As a public limited company incorporated in England and Wales, certain capital structure decisions requires approval of our shareholders, which may limit our flexibility to manage our capital structure.
The Companies Act generally provides that a board of directors of a public limited company may only allot shares (or grant rights to subscribe for or convertible into shares) with the prior authorization of shareholders, such authorization stating the maximum amount of shares that may be allotted under such authorization and specifying the date on which such authorization will expire, being not more than five years, each as specified in the articles of association or relevant shareholder resolution. We obtained previous shareholder authority to allot additional shares for a period of five years from February 25, 2019, which authorization will need to be renewed at least upon expiration (five years from February 25, 2019) but may be sought more frequently for additional five-year terms (or any shorter period).
The Companies Act generally provides that existing shareholders of a company have statutory pre-emption rights when new shares in such company are allotted and issued for cash. However, it is possible for such statutory pre-emption right to be disapplied by either shareholders passing a special resolution at a general meeting, being a resolution passed by at least 75% of the votes cast, or by inclusion of relevant provisions in the articles of association of the company. Such a disapplication of statutory pre-emption rights may not be for more than five years. We obtained previous shareholder authority to disapply statutory pre-emption rights for a period of five years from February 25, 2019, which disapplication will need to be renewed upon expiration (i.e., at least every five years) to remain effective, but may be sought more frequently for additional five-year terms (or any shorter period).
The Companies Act generally prohibits a public limited company from repurchasing its own shares without the prior approval of its shareholders by ordinary resolution, being a resolution passed by a simple majority of votes cast, and subject to compliance with other statutory formalities. Such authorization may not be for more than five years from the date on which such ordinary resolution is passed. We obtained previous shareholder authority to repurchase shares for a period of five years from February 25, 2019, which authorization will need to be renewed at least upon expiration (i.e., five years from February 25, 2019) but may be sought more frequently for additional five-year terms (or any shorter period).
Transfers of our ordinary shares outside The Depository Trust may be subject to stamp duty or stamp duty reserve tax in the U.K., which would increase the cost of dealing in our shares.
Except for ordinary shares received by a holder deemed to be an affiliate of us for purposes of U.S. securities laws, our ordinary shares have been issued to a nominee for The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) and corresponding book-entry interests credited in the facilities of DTC. On the basis of current law and HM Revenue and Customs (“HMRC”) practice, no charges to U.K. stamp duty or stamp duty reserve tax (“SDRT”) are expected to arise on the issue of the ordinary shares into DTC’s facilities or on transfers of book-entry interests in ordinary shares within DTC’s facilities.
Shareholders are strongly encouraged to hold their ordinary shares in book entry form through DTC. Transfers of shares held in book entry form through DTC currently do not attract a charge to stamp duty or SDRT in the U.K. A transfer of title in the shares from within the DTC system out of DTC, including to certificate shares, and any subsequent transfers that occur entirely outside the DTC system will attract a charge to stamp duty at a rate of 0.5% of any consideration, which is payable by the transferee of the shares. Any such duty must be paid (and the relevant transfer document, if any, stamped by HMRC) before the transfer can be registered in our books. However, if those shares are redeposited into DTC, the redeposit will attract stamp duty or SDRT at the rate of 1.5% to be paid by the transferor.
We have put arrangements in place such that directly held ordinary shares cannot be transferred into the DTC system until the transferor of the ordinary shares has first delivered the ordinary shares to a depositary specified by us so that SDRT may be collected in connection with the initial delivery to the depositary. Any such ordinary shares will be evidenced by a receipt issued by the depositary. Before the transfer can be registered in our books, the transferor will also be required to put the depositary in funds to settle the resultant liability to SDRT, which will be charged at a rate of 1.5% of the value of the shares.
Our articles of association provide that the courts of England and Wales have exclusive jurisdiction to determine any dispute brought by a shareholder in that shareholder's capacity as such and certain other matters.
Our articles of association provide that the courts of England and Wales have exclusive jurisdiction to determine any dispute brought by a shareholder in that shareholder's capacity as such, or related to or connected with any derivative claim in respect of a cause of action vested in us or seeking relief on our behalf, against us and/or the board and/or any of the directors, former directors, officers, employees or shareholders individually, arising out of or in connection with our articles of association or (to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law) otherwise. This choice of forum provision may limit a shareholder's ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that the shareholder believes is favorable for disputes with us or our directors, former directors, officers, employees or shareholders which may discourage lawsuits against us and our directors, former directors, officers, employees or shareholders.
There may be difficulty in effecting service of legal process and enforcing judgments against us and our directors and management.
We are incorporated under the laws of England and Wales and a substantial portion of our assets are located outside of the U.S. The U.S. and the U.K. do not currently have a treaty providing for the recognition and enforcement of judgments, other than arbitration awards, in civil and commercial matters. The enforceability of any judgment of a U.S. federal or state court in the U.K. will depend on the laws and any treaties in effect at the time, including conflicts of laws principles (such as those bearing on the question of whether a U.K. court would recognize the basis on which a U.S. court had purported to exercise jurisdiction over a
defendant). In this context, there is doubt as to the enforceability in the U.K. of civil liabilities based solely on the federal securities laws of the U.S. In addition, awards for punitive damages in actions brought in the U.S. or elsewhere may be unenforceable in the U.K.. An award for monetary damages under U.S. securities laws would likely be considered punitive if it did not seek to compensate the claimant for loss or damage suffered and was intended to punish the defendant.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
Below are our primary offices and facilities at December 31, 2020. We believe our properties are in good operating condition, and are well maintained. Pursuant to separate financing agreements, substantially all of our material U.S., European and Australian properties are pledged or encumbered to support or otherwise provide security for our indebtedness.
Our primary office locations consisted of the following:
|Stamford, Connecticut||Leased||263 Tresser Boulevard, Suite 1100|
|Stallingborough, United Kingdom||Leased||Laporte Road |
|New York, New York||Leased||410 Park Avenue|
|Oklahoma City, Oklahoma||Owned||3301 NW 150 Street|
Tronox owns and operates five mining-mineral processing supply chains, each including one or more heavy mineral sand ("HMS") mines producing heavy mineral concentrate ("HMC") to feed a dedicated mineral separation plant. Two operations are in South Africa: Namakwa Sands, Western Cape, and KZN Sands, KwaZulu-Natal. Three operations are in Australia: our Northern Operations and Southern Operations are in the coastal plain of Western Australia; and our Eastern Operations are in the New South Wales portion of the Murray Basin, Australia.
In South Africa, the Namakwa Sands operations include two open-pit mines, each with a dedicated primary concentration plant, and a secondary concentration plant at Brand-se-Baai, a mineral separation (“dry”) plant at Koekenaap, and a two-furnace smelter at Saldanha, Western Cape, South Africa. The KZN operations have an open pit mine at Fairbreeze with a primary concentration plant, a mineral separation plant at Empangeni alongside a two-furnace smelter complex, and export facilities at the port of Richards Bay.
The Western Australia operations are in two supply chains: the North Perth Basin, consisting of the Cooljarloo dredge mine and floating heavy mineral concentration plant, and the Chandala metallurgical complex near Muchea, consisting of a mineral separation plant and a synthetic rutile ("SR") plant; and the South Perth Basin, consisting of a dry open pit mine at Wonnerup with primary concentration of HMC and a mineral separation plant at Bunbury.
The Eastern Operations in the Murray Basin of Australia include two operating dredge mines at Ginkgo and Snapper and a mineral separation plant at Broken Hill, NSW.
Our pigment facilities consist of the physical assets necessary and appropriate to produce, distribute and supply our TiO2 products and consist mainly of manufacturing and distribution facilities. The following table lists our TiO2 production facilities and capacity (in metric tonnes per year), by location:
|Hamilton, Mississippi, USA|
|Yanbu, Saudi Arabia|
|Stallingborough, England, United Kingdom|
|Kwinana, Western Australia |
|Kemerton, Western Australia |
|Botlek, the Netherlands |
|Salvador, Bahia, Brazil|
|Fuzhou, Jiangxi Province, China|
|Thann, Alsace, France|
|32,000 ||Sulphate |
We believe we have maintained a level of adequate provision for the current and near-term use of our plants and equipment, the costs of which are recorded as Property, plant and equipment on our consolidated balance sheets; see Note 11 of our notes to our consolidated financial statements. We utilize local power sources at each of our sites; see “Risk Factors—South Africa, where we have large mining assets and derive a significant portion of our revenue and profit, poses distinct operational risks which could affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.”
As of December 31, 2020, we owned mining rights to ore reserves described herein at five heavy mineral sands operations in South Africa and Australia, where we mine heavy mineral sands to supply titanium mineral feedstock to our TiO2 manufacturing business and co-products for external sale.
Reporting of Ore Reserves
SEC reporting companies are required to report ore reserves under SEC Industry Guide 7 of the Securities Act of 1933, “Description of Property by Issuers Engaged or To Be Engaged in Significant Mining Operations”. Industry Guide 7 (“IG7”) requires that sufficient technical and economic studies have been completed to reasonably assure economic extraction of the declared reserves, based on the parameters and assumptions current to the end of the reporting period.
Tronox operations personnel have for years followed SAMREC (South African Code for the Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves) and JORC (Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves) guidelines to internally update our year-end mineral reserve and mineral resource estimates.
Our mineral reserve estimates are based on geological resource models modified by various mining and processing factors and assessed in a techno-economic model for commercial viability. This constitutes a Life-of-Mine-Plan (LOMP) for each operation. These LOMP’s have been developed by teams of Tronox professionals with diverse, complementary skills and an intimate knowledge of their respective operations. A LOMP takes into account the mineral reserves and resources, realistic assumptions of geological, mining, metallurgical, economic, marketing, legal, environmental, social, governmental, engineering, operational and all other modifying factors in sufficient detail to demonstrate at the time of reporting that extraction is reasonably justified. Our mineral reserve estimates are subject to internal controls to ensure their accuracy and validity.
Proven Reserves have a higher level of confidence than Probable Reserves. Not all HMS deposits are alike, and resources with internal variability in grade, HM ("heavy mineral") assemblage, or other characteristics are not classified as reserves until sufficient drilling density and statistical validation improves our level of confidence in the estimates. The heavy mineral reserves table below is a summary of Reserves determined as economically-exploitable by individuals certified under SAMREC or JORC disclosure guidelines as “Competent Persons” or “Qualified Persons,” to prepare mineral resource and reserves estimates. No “qualified person” requirement exists under IG7 rules.
Mining and Mineral Tenure
Industry Guide 7 requires us to describe our rights to access and mine the minerals we report as ore reserves and to disclose any change in mineral tenure of material significance. Our heavy mineral exploration and mining activities in South Africa and Australia are regulated by the South African Department of Mineral Resources, the Western Australia Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety and the New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. All exploration
and mining activities are subject to multiple levels of environmental regulatory review, including approvals of environmental plans and public comment periods as pre-conditions to granting of mineral tenure.
Mineral Tenure - South Africa
Our two South African mineral sand mining processing chains are operated by Namakwa Sands and KZN Sands, both business units of Tronox Holdings plc. The South African Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (“DMRE”) is the regulatory administrator of mineral rights in South Africa, subject to the provisions of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (“MPRDA”), No. 28 of 2004, as amended in 2016. The MPRDA vests all mineral rights in South Africa in the national government and establishes conditions for the acquisition and maintenance of prospecting and mining rights. Prospecting rights and mining rights may only be granted by the DMRE. Prospecting rights are granted for a maximum period of five years and can be renewed once for an extension of up to three years. Prospecting rights may be revoked for non-compliance with the terms of the prospecting right.
Mining right applications require additional approvals by the Department of Environmental Affairs (“DEA”) of an Environmental Management Program (“EMP”) and an Integrated Water and Land Use License. Our South African operations are 74%-owned by Tronox through its subsidiaries, Tronox Mineral Sands (Pty) Ltd and Tronox KZN Sands (Pty) Ltd, with the remaining 26% being owned by Exxaro, subject to our "flip-in" rights described elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Mining rights are valid for up to 30 years and may be extended by 30-year renewals, subject to compliance with conditions established in the EMP and by the MPRDA. Environmental permitting and compliance are co-administered by the regional offices of DEA and Development Planning. All rights, licenses and permits for Namakwa Sands and KZN Sands are in good standing.
Tronox holds mining rights over an area of 19,205 hectares (47,457 acres) and surface rights totaling 17,111 hectares (43,542 acres) at the active mining site near Brand-se-Baai.
Tronox also controls mining and prospecting rights in KwaZulu-Natal Province, on South Africa’s Indian Ocean coast, through Tronox KZN Sands (Pty) Ltd, a subsidiary of Tronox. Mining Authorizations cover approximately 4,041 hectares (9,986 acres) at Fairbreeze, where surface access rights are either owned directly by KZN Sands or secured by agreements with Mondi Ltd. A further 4,790 hectares (11,836 acres) of prospecting rights are held by KZN Sands at the nearby Port Durnford and Waterloo project areas.
Mineral Tenure - Australia
Our Australian mineral properties are divided into the Northern and Southern Operations of the Swan Coastal Plain of Western Australia and the Eastern Operations of the Murray Basin in New South Wales and Victoria. Mining tenements in Australia are managed at the State or Territorial level. In Western Australia, Mining Leases, Exploration Licenses and Retention Licenses are granted and administered by the Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, and in New South Wales by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, under the authority of the Western Australian Mining Act 1978 and the New South Wales Mining Act 1992, respectively. Principal environmental authorities are the Western Australian Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and the NSW Environment Protection Authority.
In the North Perth Basin, Western Australia, Tronox controls mining leases, exploration and other licenses and rights covering a total 50,838 hectares (125,623 acres). Mining and Public Environmental Review plans are approved for the Cooljarloo mine and the planned Dongara mine. Environmental Protection Agency approval of Cooljarloo West is anticipated during 2021. The main Cooljarloo deposit covers 9,744 hectares (24,078 acres). We hold 14 mining leases at the Dongara project. Three older mining leases are held at our Jurien property, the site of a former heavy minerals open pit mine operated by another party in the 1970’s.
Under the Cristal Transaction, Tronox acquired mining and exploration licenses in the South Perth Basin and Murray Basin heavy mineral provinces of Australia. Many of these mining properties were originally acquired by Cable Sands Pty Ltd, starting in the 1950’s, and some mineral tenure remains under Cable Sands as a Tronox subsidiary. The acquisition of Cable by Bemax in 2004, Bemax by Cristal in 2008, and Cristal by Tronox in 2019 transfers these assets and a rich legacy of innovation in heavy mineral mining and processing as well as responsible environmental stewardship to Tronox.
The Southern Operations in the southwest of Western Australia comprises 30 mining leases, 5 exploration licenses, 3 retention licenses, 2 general purpose leases and 2 miscellaneous licenses totaling 16,178 hectares.
Tronox holds 4 mining leases, 14 exploration licenses, 2 retention licenses, and 1 Exploration License Application in our Eastern Operations in the Murray Basin of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The tenements cover about 524,400
hectares (2,025 sq miles). Three mining leases west of Pooncarie, NSW cover about 6,720 hectares (16,605 acres) surrounding our active mines at Ginkgo, Snapper and Crayfish. One mining lease of 2,330 hectares is at the Atlas/Campaspe project, NSW.
Mineral Sands - South Africa and Australia
HMS deposits are natural concentrations of granular minerals of high densities (conventionally above about 2.85 gm/cm3). The heavy mineral assemblage of a particular HMS deposit generally reflects the HM contained in local and regional source rocks, and titanium-rich HMS deposit source rocks are typically granitic and/or high-grade metamorphic crystalline rocks. Factors that influence the formation of HMS deposits include erosion of crystalline source rocks, fluvial transport to the coastline, longshore drift, coastal geomorphology, deposition of heavy minerals, and prolonged natural sorting of heavy minerals by water and wind, according to the density, size and shape of HM grains. Post-depositional geological processes that can affect the economic viability of a HMS deposit include in situ weathering, induration of the host sands, and natural preservation or destruction of the HMS deposit.
Not all heavy minerals have commercial value, and a distinction is made between the Total Heavy Minerals (“THM”) and Valuable Heavy Minerals (“VHM”). Typical VHM assemblages include the titanium-iron oxide mineral, ilmenite (FeTiO3); rutile, a premium titanium mineral (TiO2), leucoxene, a naturally-upgraded variety of ilmenite; and zircon, a zirconium silicate (ZrSiO4) valuable for its use in a diverse range of industrial and construction applications. Other HM of commercial value, such as garnet, staurolite, kyanite and monazite, may be recovered as by-products.
Our TiO2 business explores, acquires, mines and processes heavy mineral sands to produce concentrates of titanium minerals and VHM co-products, particularly zircon. HMC from primary concentration at our mines are transported to our integrated mineral separation plants (MSP) to separate and concentrate VHM by gravity, magnetic and electrostatic techniques. Multiple grades of titanium minerals and zircon may be produced from each MSP. We upgrade ilmenite into titanium slag at our two South African operations and SR at our Chandala metallurgical complex in Western Australia. Our captive titanium mineral products provide a secure, long-term low-cost supply of high-grade feedstock for our TiO2 manufacturing facilities.
Our mineral property disclosures express grade in terms of the percentage of THM by weight in the ore and VHM as percentages of ilmenite, rutile + leucoxene, and zircon in the heavy mineral assemblage. Our Reserve estimates are based solely upon the value of recoverable zircon, rutile, ilmenite and leucoxene.
In 2020, we produced concentrates of ilmenite, rutile, leucoxene, and zircon from five operations: Namakwa Sands, Western Cape, South Africa; KZN Sands, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; Northern Operations, Western Australia, Southern Operations, Western Australia; and Eastern Operations, Murray Basin, New South Wales, Australia. Ilmenite from our Namakwa and Fairbreeze mines in South Africa is converted to titanium slag at our smelters at Saldanha Bay Western Cape and Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal, respectively. Ilmenite from our Cooljarloo mine in Western Australia is converted to SR at our Chandala metallurgical complex and is most commonly used as feedstock to our TiO2 pigment plants at Kwinana and Kemerton south of Perth. Our vertically integrated mining-processing operations satisfy a significant majority of feedstock requirements for our nine TiO2 manufacturing facilities in the United States, The Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, China and Western Australia.
TRONOX MINERAL SAND - MINERAL PROCESSING CAPACITIES - (metric tonnes per year)
|Northern Ops W.A.||Southern Ops W.A.||Eastern Ops NSW||Total |
(1) includes natural rutile + leucoxene
(2) includes multiple grades of zircon
The data are generalized to reflect current mining and processing capabilities, and may differ slightly from design capacities.
Some ilmenite production concentrates are consumed internally without beneficiation to slag or SR while others are sold commercially.
Namakwa Sands, Western Cape, South Africa
Our heavy mineral sand operations in South Africa include similar material flows from integrated mine-mineral separation-smelter value chains on the west and east coasts of South Africa. Both Namakwa, Western Cape and KZN Sands, KwaZulu-Natal produce smelter products of titanium slag and pig iron from ilmenite, plus commercial grades of zircon and high-grade rutile + leucoxene concentrates.
The Namakwa Sands heavy mineral deposit at Brand-se-Baai was discovered in 1986 by Anglo American, which commissioned the integrated mine-MSP-smelter project in 1995. Ore is excavated from two open-pit dry mines and delivered by trucks and conveyors to two primary wet concentration plants. Heavy Mineral Concentrate is separated into magnetic and non-magnetic fractions at a secondary concentration plant at the mine. The two fractions are further processed at a mineral separation plant (“dry mill”) 52 km south at Koekenaap. Ilmenite, rutile and zircon are transported by rail from Koekenaap to Saldanha Bay, where ilmenite is smelted in a two-furnace complex into titanium slag and pig iron. Chloride-grade slag, slag fines, pig iron, rutile and zircon are exported from our proprietary facilities at the Saldanha Bay deep-water port, about 150 km north of Cape Town.
Namakwa Sands reserve estimates as of December 31, 2020, in accordance with SAMREC (2016) reporting standards, are: 44 million tonnes in-place HM, containing over 21 million metric tonnes ilmenite, 4.6 million tonnes zircon, and 4.5 million tonnes rutile and leucoxene from 727 million tonnes of ore. These estimates reflect a 3.6% net decrease of in-place THM from the December 31, 2019 reserves estimate, due primarily to mine depletion. The current mining rate varies between 20 and 25 million tonnes of ore per annum from two open-cut mines in adjacent ore bodies known as the Graauwduinen West and Graauwduinen East deposits.
The Namakwa Sands HM deposit occupies an ellipsoidal area of 15 kilometers northeasterly by 4 km wide and is interpreted to be an ancient dune complex shaped by prevailing winds at the time of its formation. Repetitive cycles of erosion from crystalline source rock, fluvial transport and prolonged reworking by water and wind formed the deposit.
The Namakwa Sands heavy mineral assemblage is heterogeneous, creating challenges to efficient recovery of valuable heavy minerals. Significant amounts of low-value heavy minerals in the Namakwa HM assemblage include: garnet, pyroxene, hematite, magnetite, and kyanite. Most of the ore reserves are hosted by a complex dune sand sequence over 40 meters thick, known as the Orange Feldspathic Sand (“OFS”). The OFS is significantly affected by the formation of hard duricrust layers and lenses, interpreted to be a chemical precipitate of variable amounts of silicon (Si), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), iron (Fe), aluminum (Al) and other constituents from alkaline groundwater. The duricrust is superimposed upon HM-bearing strata and adversely affects VHM recoveries. Additional reserves are hosted at the surface by a sheet-like layer of iron oxide-stained, wind-blown sand known as the red aeolian sand (RAS). Little overburden is present.
Adjustments to our geotechnical-economic modelling and a comprehensive metallurgical program have enabled division of the West and East deposits into multiple geological domains based on mineralogical and processing characteristics. A better understanding of the Namakwa deposit has led to improvements in liberation and recoveries of VHM.
KZN Sands, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Our KZN Sands integrated mining-processing operation was commissioned by Iscor Heavy Minerals, predecessor to the Mineral Sands division of Exxaro Resources Ltd, which merged with Tronox in 2012. KZN Sands operates the open-cut Fairbreeze mine, 8 km south of the coastal town of Mtunzini, the Central Processing Complex, 30 km west of Richards Bay, and bulk export facilities at the port of Richards Bay.
The Fairbreeze deposit is hosted by deeply weathered “Berea-type” sands which are mined using a combination of track dozers and a hydraulic mining technique that was pioneered for HMS mining at our Hillendale mine, where rehabilitation is now complete. High-pressure water jets disaggregate the fine-grained sand into a slurry that is pumped to a primary wet plant to produce heavy mineral concentrate, which is hauled by truck 45 km to the Empangeni CPC for separation into commercial zircon and rutile concentrates, and ilmenite feed for the adjacent two-furnace smelter. Except for local consumption of some pig iron, all saleable products are exported from Richards Bay, including high-grade titanium feedstocks for our TiO2 pigment plants.
The Fairbreeze deposit is hosted by a complex of strandline/paleo-dune couplets, about two kilometers inland from the modern coastline, forming an elongate ridge extending about 12 km south-southwesterly from the town of Mtunzini with a maximum width of about two kilometers. No overburden is present. Modern erosion has dissected the deposit into five discrete ore bodies. The Fairbreeze dune complex is part of a regional, coast-parallel corridor of terraces and dunes collectively known as the Berea Red Sands that formed along the southeastern coast of Africa from Durban to Mombasa, in response to static sea levels of the Pliocene-Pleistocene. As with all heavy mineral sand deposits, iron-titanium oxides, rutile, zircon and other minerals in the HM assemblage at Fairbreeze are inherited from their source rock provenance and modified by selective sorting during deposition. Probable source rocks for the HM are the Natal Metamorphic Province and younger rift-related basalts.
Reserve estimates for KZN Sands as of December 31, 2020 in accordance with SAMREC (2016) reporting standards, are: 225 million tonnes ore averaging 5.6% total heavy minerals. Reserves were depleted by mining of 9 million tonnes in 2020, and increased by about one million tonnes, for a net decrease of about eight million tonnes ore and 0.7 million tonnes in-place THM from our 2019 reserves. The remaining ore contains approximately 7.7 Mt ilmenite, 1.0 Mt zircon, and 0.9 Mt rutile and leucoxene.
Northern Operations, Western Australia
Our mineral properties of the coastal plain of Western Australia are located within two historically important heavy mineral provinces. Our combined Cooljarloo dredge mine and planned Cooljarloo West dredge mine, 170 km north of Perth, contain proven and probable reserves of 6.5 million tonnes in-place HM. Reserves at our future Dongara mine, about 65 km southeast of Geraldton, are 3.4 million tonnes of in-place HM.
Our Cooljarloo mine and Chandala MSP and SR facility, 170 km and 65 km, respectively, north of Perth, started production in 1989 as part of the Tiwest Joint Venture, an integrated mine-to-pigment enterprise between Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp and Minproc Ltd. Subsequent reorganizations of both partners led to 100% ownership of Tiwest under Tronox in 2012.
Two dredges in a single pond feed an ore slurry to a floating concentrator to produce HMC, which is hauled by trucks 110 km south to our Chandala metallurgical complex near Muchea, 60 km north of Perth, for the recovery of ilmenite, rutile, leucoxene and zircon. Ilmenite is upgraded at Chandala to SR, a high-TiO2 feedstock for our Kwinana and other TiO2 pigment plants
Cooljarloo reserves as of December 31, 2020 are 361 million tonnes of ore, containing 6.5 million tonnes of in-place heavy minerals. The mining of low-grade ore at Cooljarloo is supported by economies of scale, low-cost dredging, a high-quality VHM suite that constitutes nearly 80% of THM, and good processing characteristics of the ilmenite in its conversion to SR. Upon exhaustion of Cooljarloo ore, the dredge mine will be relocated to Cooljarloo West, where reserves from three-ore bodies contain an estimated 2.6 million tonnes of in-place heavy minerals.
At Dongara, multiple feasibility studies, drilling, and dry-mining optimization over the past 15 years identify reserves of 68 million tonnes ore at an average grade of 5.1% THM in five deposits, for which mining and environmental approvals have been secured.
Heavy mineral deposits of our Northern Operations generally occur as stacked, elongate, NNW-trending bodies parallel to the modern coastline, bounded to the east by the Gingin Scarp. A swarm of HM deposits in the Cooljarloo district span an area of 40 km NNW by a width of over 5 km. Heavy minerals derived from the crystalline “basement” of the Yilgarn craton east of the scarp and Mesozoic sediments of the North Perth Basin west of the scarp are associated with marine still-stands on a wave-cut platform, as HM sands accumulated in shoreline, dunal and other coastal environments of a westward-regressing seacoast.
As of December 31, 2020, our total Northern Operations reserves are estimated at 9.9 million tonnes of in-place heavy minerals, including approximately 5.7 million tonnes ilmenite, 1.1 million tonnes zircon, and about 830,000 combined tonnes of rutile and leucoxene. The Cooljarloo Reserve decreased by 56 million tonnes which comprises 32 million tonnes of mine depletion and sterilization and the removal of 23 million tonnes of ore from the existing reserve, for a net decrease of 14.5% in-place THM from our 2019 year-end reserves.
Southern Operations, Western Australia
Our mineral properties in the South-West of Western Australia were acquired in the Cristal Transaction in 2019. Mining in the Capel heavy mineral province began in 1956 by Cable Sands Pty Ltd, acquired in 2004 by Bemax Resources Ltd, which in turn was acquired by Cristal in 2008. Most mineral properties, licenses and permits in our Southern Operations are held under Cable Sands, now a Tronox subsidiary.
We extract heavy minerals from the Wonnerup North open-cut HMS mine, 10 km east of Busselton, from which HMC is trucked to our MSP at Bunbury, adjacent to the Bunbury port. Most of our reported Reserves of approximately 1 million tonnes of in-place total heavy minerals as of December 31, 2020 are in the Wonnerup North deposit. The Bunbury MSP also processes streams of HM concentrates sorted by their magnetic susceptibilities from our Broken Hill MSP in New South Wales.
The Wonnerup North deposit is a shallow (~3m deep) windblown dunal deposit on the Capel paleo-shoreline, one of two strandlines, along with the Yoganup paleo shoreline, located 7 km and 15 km inland, respectively, from the modern Indian Ocean coast associated with most of the economic HMS deposits of the region. Mining commenced at Wonnerup North in June 2019
after the completion of mining at Wonnerup South. All HMC was fed to our Bunbury MSP for recovery of commercial mineral concentrates.
Ilmenite-dominant heavy mineral deposits of the South Perth Basin occur as multiple, arcuate bands, parallel to the J-shaped Geographe Bay modern shoreline. These “fossil” shorelines become progressively younger from east-to-west, reflecting HM accumulations on paleo-beaches as the sea regressed across the Swan Coastal Plain during the Late Pliocene-Pleistocene. Ore controls include: proximity of the Yilgarn Craton, the provenance for the heavy minerals geomorphology of the Geographe Bay coast, and high-energy waves that concentrated HM and winnowed out quartz and other diluting minerals on paleo-shorelines of a wave-cut platform.
Eastern Operations, Murray Basin, New South Wales, Australia
Our Eastern Operations, acquired in the Cristal Transaction, are located in the Murray Basin, a 300,000-square-kilometer intra-cratonic sedimentary basin covering parts of Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia. Our operating mines at Ginkgo, Crayfish and Snapper are about 40 km west of Pooncarie, New South Wales. Dredge mining commenced at Ginkgo in 2006, and at Snapper in 2010. Dry-mining at Crayfish, a small deposit adjunct to Ginkgo, started in September 2019, from which ore is hauled to the Ginkgo dredge pond.
Economic concentrations of heavy minerals in the Murray Basin are found in sandy sediments associated with Pliocene coastal sand deposits, formed during marine still-stands. Higher heavy mineral grades occur as parallel, linear bands that reflect HM accumulations on paleo-strandlines. Overburden at our Ginkgo and Snapper mines is removed by conventional mining methods, followed by dredge mining of ore.
HMC from Ginkgo-Snapper is hauled by trucks approximately 240 km to our MSP in Broken Hill, NSW. The Broken Hill MSP utilizes magnetic separation techniques to produce commercial concentrates of ilmenite and leucoxene, and a non-magnetic HM concentrate. The products are railed about 430 km to the port of Adelaide, South Australia. The non-magnetic concentrates are shipped to the Bunbury MSP for further processing into final products.
HMC production from our Eastern Operations for 2020 was approximately 400,000 tonnes. At current production rates, mining is scheduled to be completed at Snapper in 2022 and at Ginkgo/Crayfish in 2023.
Government consent has been obtained for the development of two new open-cut dry mines at our Atlas/Campaspe project, 90 km north of Balranald, NSW and approximately 270 km southeast of Broken Hill. Starting with Atlas in 2022, the new production will be phased in to sustain VHM output from our Eastern Operations, as Ginkgo/Crayfish and Snapper reach depletion. HMC produced on-site at Atlas and Campaspe by wet gravity and magnetic (WHIMS) separation will be delivered to the Broken Hill MSP via a combination of road and rail transport. Current estimated reserves at Atlas/Campaspe are 5.7 million tonnes (Mt) of in-place THM, including 4.1 Mt titanium minerals and over 700,000 tonnes zircon from 88 Mt ore. Approximately 19 million tonnes of ore was mined during 2020 from Snapper, Ginkgo and Crayfish. Active exploration programs are ongoing in the Murray Basin heavy minerals province, where our exploration licenses cover nearly 5,100 square kilometers.
Our total heavy mineral reserves at December 31, 2020 in our Eastern Operations, including the Ginkgo, Crayfish, Snapper, Atlas and Campaspe HMS deposits, are 145 million tonnes of ore containing 7.0 million tonnes of in-place heavy minerals.
Our TiO2 value chain is the largest vertically-integrated TiO2 value chain in the world, and our TiO2 business is the world’s only mining-mineral processing chain with production of both titanium slag and synthetic rutile. Our South African slag, Australian synthetic rutile, and natural rutile from multiple mining-processing operations satisfy a significant majority of our internal TiO2 feedstock requirements.
There is a high degree of substitutability among natural rutile, synthetic rutile, and titanium slag as titanium feedstocks for chloride pigment production. The commercial value of titanium feedstock is a function not only of TiO2 content and supply and demand balances, but is also influenced by particle size, trace element geochemistry, logistics and other factors. The global TiO2 industry is a value-added supply chain, with final product prices for TiO2 pigment, typically more than 10x higher than that of ilmenite, the backbone of the global titanium mineral supply. The revenue assumptions for titanium feedstocks applied in the determination of heavy mineral ore reserve estimates are based on market intelligence gathered from internal and external experts, sales contracts and historic pricing.
Our LOMP and reserve estimates are derived from detailed techno-economic models created from extensive geological, mining and analytical databases, and optimized with respect to anticipated revenues and costs. Cost assumptions are developed from our extensive experience and include mining parameters, processing recoveries, foreign exchange, and rehabilitation. Each
of our operations reconcile predicted mining and processing metrics with actual production and recovery data on a monthly basis. Our models are updated as necessary and used to determine ore boundaries based on economic assumptions. To satisfy the disclosure rules in Industry Guide 7, the nominal cut-off grades used to calculate ore reserves are, generally: 0.2% zircon at Namakwa Sands; 1.5% ilmenite at KZN Sands; 1.3% THM (approximately 1% VHM) at our Northern Operations, Western Australia, 3% THM at our Southern Operations, Western Australia, and 1% THM at our Eastern Operations, Murray Basin, Australia. Actual cut-off grades applied in reserve estimates can vary according to numerous factors, such as mining method, overburden: ore ratios, and HM assemblage quality.
Heavy Mineral Reserves
Ore reserves are those portions of mineral deposits that are economically and legally exploitable at December 31, 2020. All of our heavy mineral reserves are reported on the basis of in-place, economically extractable ore, determined from comprehensive geological, mining, processing and economic models. Reserve classifications of Proven or Probable are based on the level of confidence in the reserve estimates.
The following table summarizes our heavy mineral ore reserves and their contained in situ THM and heavy mineral assemblages as of December 31, 2020. Increases or decreases in our reserves estimates from December 31, 2019 to December 31, 2020 are indicated as a percent of in-place THM reserves.
|MINE / DEPOSIT||Reserve|
|VHM Assemblage (% of THM)||Change|
+ (-) %
|Namakwa Sands Dry Mine - Western Cape RSA|
|Proven||144 ||8.2 ||%||11.8 ||36.4 ||8.0 ||8.9 |
|Probable||583 ||5.5 ||%||32.1 ||52.6 ||11.0 ||11.2 |
|Total Reserves||727 ||6.0 ||%||43.9 ||48.2 ||10.2 ||10.5 ||(3.6)||%|
|KZN Sands Hydraulic Mine KwaZulu-Natal RSA|
|Proven||214 ||5.7 ||%||12.2 ||61.7 ||7.3 ||7.7 |
|Probable||11 ||3.7 ||%||0.4 ||52.0 ||5.0 ||7.0 |
|Total Reserves||225 ||5.6 ||%||12.6 ||61.4 ||7.2 ||7.7 ||(5.2)||%|
|Cooljarloo – Dredge Mine Western Australia|
|Proven||230 ||1.7 ||%||3.9 ||61.9 ||7.9 ||10.6 |
|Probable||131 ||2.0 ||%||2.6 ||60.5 ||8.3 ||12.2 |
|Total Reserves||361 ||1.8 ||%||6.5 ||61.3 ||8.1 ||11.2 ||(14.5)||%|
|Dongara Planned Dry Mine Western Australia |
|Proven||68 ||5.1 ||%||3.4 ||49.5 ||8.9 ||10.9 |
|Probable||— ||— ||%||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Total Reserves||68 ||5.1 ||%||3.4 ||49.5 ||8.9 ||10.9 ||— ||%|
|Northern Operations||Total Reserves||429 ||2.3%||9.9 ||57.2 ||8.4 ||11.1 ||(10.0)||%|
|Wonnerup Dry Mine Western Australia |
|Proven||14 ||5.4 ||%||0.8 ||70.1 ||18.7 ||9.8 |
|Probable||5 ||5.6 ||%||0.3 ||78.1 ||10.8 ||8.7 |
|Total Reserves||19 ||5.4 ||%||1.0 ||72.2 ||16.7 ||9.5 ||(11.6)||%|
|Southern Operations ||Total Reserves||19 ||5.4%||1.0 ||72.2||16.7||9.5||(11.6)||%|
|Ginkgo-Snapper Dredge/ Dry Mines, New South Wales Australia|
|Proven||57 ||2.1 ||%||1.2 ||41.5 ||29.2 ||12.2 |
|Probable||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Total Reserves||57 ||2.1 ||%||1.2 ||41.5 ||29.2 ||12.2 ||(21.5)||%|
|Atlas-Campaspe Dry Mine in Development, New South Wales Australia|
|Proven||— ||— ||%||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Probable||88 ||6.5 ||%||5.7 ||56.1 ||16.0 ||12.3 |
|Total Reserves||88 ||6.5 ||%||5.7 ||56.1 ||16.0 ||12.3 ||— ||%|
|Eastern Operations ||Total Reserves||145 ||4.8%||7.0 ||53.5||18.3||12.3||(4.6)||%|
|Global||Total Reserves||1,545 ||4.8%||74.4 ||52.5||10.3||10.3||(4.5)||%|
Abbreviations, Definitions, and Notations
One metric tonne = 1.10231 short tons
Ore Reserves —mineralized material inclusive of dilution, determined to be economically and legally exploitable as of December 31, 2020, classified as either Probable Reserves or Proven Reserves, based on level of confidence.
THM — total heavy minerals, densities >2.85 g/cm3 regardless of commercial value
VHM — valuable heavy minerals, including Ilmenite, Rutile, Leucoxene & Zircon, reported as percentage of THM.
Change from 2019 — Increase (decrease) in percent change of in-place THM from 2019
Minor computational discrepancies may be due to rounding
Cooljarloo Dredge Mine reserves include Cooljarloo and Cooljarloo West
Key Assumptions — economic viability is determined by techno-economic modeling that integrates geological, analytical and geotechnical databases, mining parameters, metallurgical recoveries, known or forecast operating costs, cost of capital, and product sales prices at time of production. Historical sales prices by themselves are unreliable predictors of future prices, and our forecasts are based on our private contracts, internal and external market research.
Disclosures of mineral reserves traditionally include a cut-off grade, the grade in a mineral deposit below which material cannot be profitably mined and processed. However, economic exploitability is determined by many modifying factors other than
grade, and most modern mining operations, including ours, use detailed computer models utilized by employees who possess the experience and technical expertise to identify what parts of a deposit are economically exploitable. As cut-off grades remain entrenched in the mining industry, the following nominal cut-off grades apply, with qualifications, to our five operations: 0.2% zircon at Namakwa Sands; 1.5% ilmenite at KZN Sands; 1.3% THM (approximately 1% VHM) at our Northern Operations, WA, 3% THM at our Southern Operations, WA, and 1% THM at our Eastern Operations, NSW.
Production forecasts of commercial-quality titanium mineral and zircon concentrates from reserves are taken from our Life-of-Mine Plans. Mining recoveries are typically close to 100%, but metallurgical recoveries in each concentration step can vary widely, as a function of ore and mineral characteristics. We apply recovery factors based on actual operating data. Unrecovered VHM in certain dry mill tailings streams are stockpiled, but their hypothetical value is not considered in our revenue assumptions.
Mineral reserve estimates, life-of mine projections, and revenue assumptions are inherently forward-looking and subject to market conditions, uncertainties and unanticipated events beyond our control.
The following table compares the heavy mineral reserves reported for the three years ending December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, expressed as millions of metric tonnes of in-place total heavy minerals:
3-Year Reserves (Mt In-Place THM)
|(In millions of metric tonnes)|
|Namakwa Sands||43.9 ||45.6 ||40.8 |
|KZN Sands||12.6 ||13.2 ||14.1 |
|Total South Africa||56.5 ||58.8 ||54.9 |
|Northern Ops, W. Australia||9.9 ||10.9 ||11.2 |
|Southern Ops, W. Australia||1.0 ||1.2 ||N/A|
|Eastern Ops, Murray Basin Australia||7.0 ||7.2 ||N/A|
|Total Australia ||17.9 ||19.3 ||11.2 |
|Total Tronox||74.4 ||78.1 ||66.1 |
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
Information required by this item is incorporated herein by reference to the section captioned “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements, Note 20 - Commitments and Contingencies” of this Form 10-K.
SEC Regulations require us to disclose certain information about administrative or judicial proceedings to which a governmental authority is party arising under federal, state or local environmental provisions if we reasonably believe that such proceedings may result in monetary sanctions above a stated threshold. Pursuant to the SEC regulations, the Company uses a threshold of $1 million or more for purposes of determining whether disclosure of any such proceedings is required.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Shareholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Market for our Ordinary Shares
Our ordinary shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “TROX.”
Holders of Record
As of January 31, 2021, there were approximately 58 holders of record of ordinary shares. This does not include the shareholders that held shares of our ordinary shares in a nominee or “street-name” accounts through banks or broker-dealers. See Item 12, Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Shareholder Matters.
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
The following discussion should be read in conjunction with Tronox Holdings plc's consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. This discussion and other sections in this Annual Report on Form 10-K contain forward-looking statements, within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, that involve risks and uncertainties, and actual results could differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements as a result of numerous factors. Forward-looking statements provide current expectations of future events based on certain assumptions and include any statement that does not directly relate to any historical or current fact. Forward-looking statements also can be identified by words such as “future,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “predicts,” “will,” “would,” “could,” “can,” “may,” and similar terms. There are important factors that could cause our actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements to differ materially from the results, level of activity, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. In particular, you should consider the numerous risks and uncertainties outlined in Item 1A. “Risk Factors.”
This Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations contains certain financial measures, in particular the presentation of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (“EBITDA”) and Adjusted EBITDA, which are not presented in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“U.S. GAAP”). We are presenting these non-U.S. GAAP financial measures because we believe they provide us and readers of this Form 10-K with additional insight into our operational performance relative to earlier periods and relative to our competitors. We do not intend for these non-U.S. GAAP financial measures to be a substitute for any U.S. GAAP financial information. Readers of these statements should use these non-U.S. GAAP financial measures only in conjunction with the comparable U.S. GAAP financial measures. A reconciliation of net income (loss) to EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA is also provided herein.
Tronox Holdings plc (referred to herein as "Tronox", "we", "us", or "our") operates titanium-bearing mineral sand mines and beneficiation operations in Australia, South Africa and Brazil to produce feedstock materials that can be processed into TiO2 for pigment, high purity titanium chemicals, including titanium tetrachloride, and Ultrafine© titanium dioxide used in certain specialty applications. It is our long-term strategic goal to be vertically integrated and consume all of our feedstock materials in our own nine TiO2 pigment facilities which we operate in the United States, Australia, Brazil, UK, France, the Netherlands, China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (“KSA”). We believe that vertical integration is the best way to achieve our ultimate goal of delivering low cost, high-quality pigment to our coatings and other TiO2 customers throughout the world. The mining, beneficiation and smelting of titanium bearing mineral sands creates meaningful quantities of zircon, which we also supply to customers around the world.
We are a public limited company formed under the laws of England and Wales. Tronox was formerly listed on the New York Stock Exchange as Tronox Limited, a company formed under the laws of Western Australia. However, in March 2019, we re-domiciled to the United Kingdom, and as a result of the re-domiciling, Tronox Limited became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tronox Holdings plc. Another significant corporate milestone occurred on April 10, 2019 when we completed the acquisition from National Industrialization Company ("Tasnee") of the TiO2 business of The National Titanium Dioxide Company Limited (“Cristal”) (the “Cristal Transaction”). The Cristal Transaction doubled our size and expanded the number of TiO2 pigment facilities we operate from three to nine and gave us control of several new mines, particularly in Australia. In order to obtain
regulatory approval for the Cristal Transaction, we were required to divest Cristal's North American TiO2 business, which was sold in May 2019. See Note 3 for further details on the Cristal Transaction.
The following discussion includes trends and factors that may affect future operating results:
Throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic, our operations have been designated as essential to support the continued manufacturing of products such as food and medical packaging, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, and personal protective gear.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our industry and business and the Company has taken, and will continue to take, measures, to minimize the impact to our operations and maintain liquidity. In response to the initial pandemic, some of these measures have included delaying capital expenditures, delaying merit increases, increased working capital management cost reductions and incremental borrowings to maintain incremental liquidity. We will continue to monitor the pandemic, related impact to our business and will take additional precautions as deemed necessary.
During the second and third quarters of 2020, the Company experienced a significant reduction in TiO2 and Zircon sales volumes which was in line with expectations as a result of the decline in global GDP. Sales in the fourth quarter of 2020 increased 13% compared to the prior year period. Sequentially, revenues increased 16% in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter of 2020 driven by a continued demand recovery as well as delivery on our synergy targets from the Cristal Transaction. In the fourth quarter of 2020, TiO2 sales volumes increased in the Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa regions with slight decrease in North America. Average TiO2 selling prices were stable in the North American market and were slightly up in the Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa and South and Central American regions. Based upon current conditions we believe our TiO2 business will continue to benefit from an expected global industry recovery in 2021.
Gross profit increased sequentially from the third quarter to the fourth quarter of 2020 due to the favorable impacts of TiO2 and Zircon sales volumes as well as favorable impact of foreign currency on sales. Gross profit was also positively impacted by $10 million for synergies realized in relation to the Cristal Transaction however was more than offset by a negative impact of $17 million on foreign currency on costs of goods sold primarily due to the South African rand and Australian dollar. In addition, the fourth quarter included a $4 million reimbursement from claims related to the Ginkgo concentrator failure we inherited as part of the Cristal Transaction.
As of December 31, 2020, our total available liquidity was $1,041 million, including $619 million in cash and cash equivalents and $422 million available under revolving credit agreements including $285 million available under our Asset Backed Lending ("ABL") facility. Our total debt was $3.3 billion and net debt to trailing-twelve month Adjusted EBITDA was 4.1x.
Additionally, consistent with our previously stated capital allocation priorities, in December 2020, the Company made a voluntary prepayment of $200 million on its Term Loan Facility. The Company anticipates making a voluntary repayment of $300 million on the Term Loan Facility during the first quarter of 2021 from the cash on our Consolidated Balance Sheet originally intended for the TTI acquisition. There are no upcoming maturities on the Company's term loan or bonds until 2024. The Company also has no financial covenants on its term loan or bonds and only one springing financial covenant on its ABL facility which we do not expect to be triggered based on our current scenario planning.
Pro Forma Income Statement Information
The acquisition of the TiO2 business of Cristal on April 10, 2019 impacts the comparability of the reported results for 2020 compared to 2019. Since Tronox and Cristal have combined their respective businesses effective with the merger date of April 10, 2019, the year ended December 31, 2020 reflects the results of the combined business, without any pro forma adjustments, while the year ended December 31, 2019 reflect the results of the combined business from April 10, 2019. To assist with a discussion of the 2020 and 2019 results on a comparable basis, certain supplemental unaudited pro forma income statement information is provided on a consolidated basis and is referred to as "pro forma information".
The pro forma information has been prepared on a basis consistent with Article 11 of Regulation S-X, assuming the merger and merger-related divestitures of Cristal’s North American TiO2 business and the 8120 paper laminate grade had been consummated on January 1, 2018. In preparing this pro forma information, the historical financial information has been adjusted to give effect to pro forma adjustments that are (i) directly attributable to the business combination and other transactions presented herein, such as the merger-related divestitures, (ii) factually supportable, and (iii) expected to have a continuing impact on the combined entity’s consolidated results. The pro forma information is based on management’s assumptions and is presented
for illustrative purposes and does not purport to represent what the results of operations would actually have been if the business combination and merger-related divestitures had occurred as of the dates indicated or what the results would be for any future periods. Also, the pro forma information does not include the impact of any revenue, cost or other operation synergies in the periods prior to the acquisition that may result from the business combination or any related restructuring costs.
Consolidated Results of Operations from Continuing Operations
Year Ended December 31, 2020 Compared to the Year Ended December 31, 2019
Pro Forma Amounts (1)
|Year Ended December 31,||Year Ended December 31,|
|(Millions of U.S. Dollars)||(Millions of U.S. Dollars)|
|Net sales||$||2,758 ||$||2,642 ||$||116 ||$||2,758 ||$||3,008 ||$||(250)|
|Cost of goods sold||2,137 ||2,159 ||(22)||2,137 ||2,364 ||(227)|
|Contract loss ||— ||19 ||(19)||— ||— ||— |
|Gross profit||$||621 ||$||464 ||$||157 ||621 ||644 ||(23)|
|Gross Margin||23 ||%||18 ||%||5 || pts||23 ||%||21 ||%||2 || pts|
|Selling, general and administrative expenses ||347 ||347 ||— ||347 ||354 ||(7)|
|Restructuring||3 ||22 ||(19)||3 ||22 ||(19)|
|Income from operations||271 ||95 ||176 ||271 ||268 ||3 |
|Interest expense||(189)||(201)||12 ||(189)||(207)||18 |
|Interest income||8 ||18 ||(10)||8 ||12 ||(4)|
|Loss on extinguishment of debt||(2)||(3)||1 ||(2)||(3)||1 |
|Other income (expense), net||26 ||3 ||23 ||26 ||2 ||24 |
|Income (loss) from continuing operations before income taxes||114 ||(88)||202 ||114 ||72 ||42 |
|Income tax provision||881 ||(14)||895 ||881 ||(31)||912|
|Net income (loss) from continuing operations||$||995 ||$||(102)||$1,097||$||995 ||$||41 ||$||954 |
|Effective tax rate||(773)||%||(16)||%||(757) pts||(773)||%||(43)||%||(730) pts|
|$||599 ||$||375 ||$||224 ||$||599 ||$||590 ||$||9 |
|$||668 ||$||615 ||$||53 ||$||668 ||$||681 ||$||(13)|
|Adjusted EBITDA as % of Net Sales||24 ||%||23 ||%||1 pt||24 ||%||23 ||%||1 pt|
(1) The pro forma amounts have been prepared on a basis consistent with Article 11 of Regulation S-X. See "Supplemental Pro Forma Information" section of this MD&A for further detail.
(2) EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA are Non-U.S. GAAP financials measures. Please refer to the “Non-U.S. GAAP Financial Measures” section of this Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations for a discussion of these measures and a reconciliation of these measures to Net income (loss) from continuing operations.
Reported net sales of $2,758 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 increased by 4% compared to $2,642 million for the same period in 2019. The year ended December 31, 2020 includes approximately $352 million of revenue from Cristal operations for the first quarter of 2020 and the first nine days of April 2020 for which there were no comparable amounts in the prior year period given the acquisition closed on April 10, 2019. Excluding this Cristal revenue, revenue decreased 9% primarily due to lower TiO2 sales volumes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as lower Zircon average selling prices. On a pro forma basis, net sales for the year ended December 31, 2020 decreased $250 million in comparison to the same period in 2019 primarily due to the decreases in sales volumes of TiO2 and pig iron as well as lower average selling prices of Zircon. Net sales by type of product for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 were as follows:
The table below presents reported revenue by product:
|Year Ended |
|(Millions of dollars, except percentages)||2020||2019||Variance||Percentage|
|$||2,176 ||$||2,049 ||$||127 ||6 ||%|
|Zircon||283 ||290 ||(7)||(2)||%|
|Feedstock and other products||299 ||303 ||(4)||(1)||%|
|Total net sales||$||2,758 ||$||2,642 ||$||116 ||4 ||%|
The table below presents pro forma revenue by product:
|Year Ended |
|(Millions of dollars, except percentages)||2020||2019||Variance||Percentage|
|$||2,176 ||$||2,374 ||$||(198)||(8)||%|
|Zircon||283 ||310 ||(27)||(9)||%|
|Feedstock and other products||299 ||324 ||(25)||(8)||%|
|Total net sales||$||2,758 ||$||3,008 ||$||(250)||(8)||%|
On a reported basis, for the year ended December 31, 2020, TiO2 revenue increased $127 million, or 6%, compared to the prior year. Given the acquisition of Cristal on April 10, 2019, there is approximately $306 million of revenue in the first quarter of 2020 and first nine days of April 2020 for which there were no comparable amounts in the same period of the prior year. Excluding this revenue generated from the Cristal operations, TiO2 revenue decreased by $179 million due to a $152 million decrease in sales volumes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and a decrease of $42 million in average selling prices. Foreign currency positively impacted TiO2 revenue by $15 million due primarily to the strengthening of the Euro. Zircon revenues for the Cristal operation in the first quarter of 2020 and first nine days of April 2020 were approximately $17 million. Excluding this Cristal related revenue, Zircon revenue decreased $24 million primarily due to a $34 million reduction in average selling prices partially offset by an $11 million increase in sales volumes. Feedstock and other products revenues for the Cristal operations in the first quarter of 2020 and first nine days of April 2020 were approximately $29 million. Excluding this Cristal related revenue, feedstock and other products revenue decreased $32 million primarily due to lower sales volumes of CP slag, ilmenite, and rutile prime.
On a pro forma basis, for the year ended December 31, 2020, TiO2 revenue was lower by $198 million or 8% compared to the prior year driven by a 7% or $160 million decrease in sales volumes, a 2% decrease in average selling prices impacting revenue by $47 million and a $1 million decrease in product mix. Foreign currency increased TiO2 revenue by $10 million due to the strengthening of the Euro. Zircon revenue declined $27 million, or 9%, due to a 13% decrease in average selling prices partially offset by a 4% increase in sales volumes. Feedstock and other product revenue was lower by $25 million, or 8%, compared to the prior year due to decreases in ilmenite sales and decreases in CP slag sales volumes.
On a reported basis, our gross margin of $621 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 was 23% of net sales compared to 18% of net sales for the same period in 2019. The increase in gross margin is primarily due to:
•the favorable impact of 4 points due to the value of the inventory of Cristal being stepped up to fair value on the acquisition date in the prior year period, which resulted in the recognition of higher expense the prior year period;
•the favorable impact of 4 points due to the synergies realized from the Cristal Transaction;
•the net favorable impact of 3 points due to changes in foreign exchange rates, primarily due to the South African Rand, Euro and Brazilian Real;
•the favorable impact of 1 point due to the recognition of a $19 million charge for contract losses expected to be incurred on the 8120 supply agreement with Venator in the prior year period;
•the unfavorable impact of 3 points primarily due to a decrease in average selling prices of TiO2 and Zircon;
•the unfavorable impact of 2 points due to inflationary cost pressures and unfavorable fixed overhead absorption, including idle facility charges and lower of cost or market charges, on lower volumes as we reduced production to match demand;
•the unfavorable impact of 1 point due to sales volumes and product mix; and
•the unfavorable impact of 1 point due to deferred margin recognized in the year-ago period which did not recur during the current period.
On a pro forma basis, our gross margin of $621 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 was 23% of net sales compared to 21% of net sales for the same period in 2019. The increase in gross margin is primarily due to:
•the favorable impact of 4 points due to the synergies realized from the Cristal Transaction;
•the net favorable impact of 3 points due to changes in foreign exchange rates, primarily due to the South African Rand, Euro and Brazilian Real;
•the favorable impact of 1 point due to sales volumes and product mix;
•the unfavorable impact of 3 points primarily due to a decrease in average selling prices of TiO2 and Zircon;
•the unfavorable impact of 2 points due to inflationary cost pressures and unfavorable fixed overhead absorption, including idle facility charges and lower of cost or market charges, on lower volumes as we reduced production to match demand; and
•the unfavorable impact of 1 point due to deferred margin recognized in the year-ago period which did not recur during the current period.
On a reported basis, selling, general and administrative ("SG&A") expenses remained consistent for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to the prior year. Given the acquisition of Cristal on April 10, 2019, there are approximately $23 million of expenses in the first quarter of 2020 and the first nine days of April 2020 for which there were no comparable amounts in the same period of the prior year. Excluding the effect of Cristal, SG&A expenses decreased $23 million primarily driven by $13 million of lower professional fees, a decrease of $12 million in travel and entertainment expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a $6 million decrease in research and development expenses, lower integration costs of $5 million and lower agent commissions of $3 million partially offset by $12 million increase in employee costs primarily driven by higher incentive compensation, higher costs of $2 million for IT and communication expenses, and higher costs of $3 million related to the transitional service agreement associated with the Cristal acquisition. On a pro forma basis, selling, general and administrative expenses decreased primarily due to $21 million of synergies, lower travel and entertainment expenses of $13 million partially offset by transaction costs of $14 million included in 2020 related to the TTI acquisition of which all transaction costs in 2019 related to the Cristal Transaction were excluded for proforma purposes, $9 million increase in incentive compensation and $6 million due to merit increases.
On both a reported and pro forma basis, we recorded restructuring expenses of $3 million for employee-related costs associated with headcount reductions during the year ended December 31, 2020. See Note 4 of notes to consolidated financial statements.
On a reported basis, income from operations for the year ended December 31, 2020 of $271 million, increased by $176 million or 185% compared to the same period in 2019 which is primarily attributable to the higher gross margin and lower restructuring charges.
On a pro forma basis, income from operations for the year ended December 31, 2020 was $271 million, an increase of $3 million compared to $268 million in the prior year due to lower SG&A expenses and lower restructuring costs partially offset by the lower gross margin in the current year.
On both a reported basis and a proforma basis, Adjusted EBITDA as a percentage of net sales was 24% for the year ended December 31, 2020, an increase of 1 point from 23% in the prior year. On a reported basis, the higher gross profit, as a result of the reflection of synergies related to the Cristal Transaction, were the primary drivers of the year-over-year increase in Adjusted EBITDA percentage. On a proforma basis, the lower SG&A expenses as a result of the reflection of synergies related to the Cristal Transaction, offset by the lower gross profit was the primary driver of the increase in Adjusted EBITDA percentage.
On a reported basis and a pro forma basis, interest expense for the year ended December 31, 2020 decreased by $12 million and $18 million, respectively, compared to the same period in 2019 primarily due to lower average debt outstanding balances and lower average interest rates mainly on the Term Loan Facility and Standard Bank Term Loan Facility.
On a reported and pro forma basis, interest income for the year ended December 31, 2020 decreased by $10 million and $4 million, respectively, compared to the prior year primarily due to lower cash balances from the use of cash and previously restricted cash in the second quarter of 2019 for the acquisition of the Cristal Transaction as well as the overall decrease in interest rates on our cash investments period over period.
Loss on extinguishment of debt of $2 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 resulted from the voluntary prepayment of $200 million on our Term Loan Facility in December 2020.
On a reported basis and pro forma basis, other income (expense), net for the year ended December 31, 2020 primarily consisted of $4 million net realized and unrealized foreign currency gains, an approximate $2 million adjustment associated with a curtailment gain due to the freezing of plan benefits partially offset by pension settlements, and a $11 million reimbursement from claims related to the Ginkgo concentrator failure we inherited as part of the Cristal Transaction, and $5 million associated with the monthly technical service fee relating to the Jazan slagger we receive from AMIC. Refer to Note 24 for further information. On a reported basis, other income (expense), net for the year ended December 31, 2019 primarily consisted of $5 million net realized and unrealized foreign currency gains and a $2 million adjustment associated with a settlement gain related to the Cristal U.S. pension plan.
We maintain full valuation allowances related to the total net deferred tax assets in Australia and the United Kingdom. For entities acquired in the Cristal Transaction, we have full valuation allowances in Australia, Saudi Arabia, and Switzerland. The provisions for income taxes associated with these jurisdictions include no tax benefits with respect to losses incurred and tax expense only to the extent of current tax payments. Additionally, we have valuation allowances against other specific tax assets.
On a reported basis, the effective tax rate was (773)% and (16)% for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively. The large negative effective tax rate for the year ended December 31, 2020 is caused by the release of valuation allowances for deferred tax assets in the U.S. and Brazil, partially offset by the recording of valuation allowances in Saudi Arabia and the U.K. The net impact was $905 million benefit to the income tax provision. Refer to Note 8 for further information. Additionally, the effective tax rates for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 are influenced by a variety of factors, primarily income and losses in jurisdictions with valuation allowances, disallowable expenditures, restructuring impacts, and our jurisdictional mix of income at tax rates different than the U.K. statutory rate.
Year Ended December 31, 2019 Compared to the Year Ended December 31, 2018
A discussion of our results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2019 versus December 31, 2018 is included in Part II, Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Results of Operation”, included in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019.
Other Comprehensive Income (Loss)
There was an other comprehensive loss of $20 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to other comprehensive income of $11 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 representing a reduction of $31 million year over year. This reduction was primarily driven by negative movements year-over year foreign currency translation adjustments of $23 million coupled with an increase of $7 million of comprehensive losses associated with pension and post retirement plans. Unrecognized losses on derivative instruments of $12 million year over year was largely offset by $11 million of recognized gains on derivatives during the same period.
A discussion of our comprehensive (loss) income for the year ended December 31, 2019 versus December 31, 2018 is included in Part II, Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Other Comprehensive (Loss) Income”, included in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
During 2020, our liquidity increased by $393 million to $1,041 million.
The table below presents our liquidity, including amounts available under our credit facilities, as of the following dates:
|Cash and cash equivalents||$||619 ||$||302 |
|Available under the Wells Fargo Revolver||285 ||209 |