TiZir Ltd is a 50/50 joint venture by ERAMET and its Australian partner Mineral Deposits Limited. Together they operate a mining concession for mineral sands on the coast of Senegal to produce titanium-bearing minerals (ilmenite, leucoxene and rutile) and zirconium.

Since 2014, TiZir has operated a mineral sand deposit by continuous dredging, through its subsidiary Grande Côte Opérations SA in Senegal. The world’s biggest mineral dredger works on an artificial basin, moving 7km per year along a 106km strip of dunes. A rotary blade, immersed in the sandy water, sucks in sand 24 hours a day. The 2% of heavy minerals is then concentrated, separated and dried. The extracted ilmenite is sent to the Tyssedal plant in Norway, where it is turned into titanium dioxide slag and high-purity cast iron.

2016 was a contrasting year. In Senegal, after a difficult start to the year, significant progress was made on engineering, management organisation, costs and safety. The year then went smoothly without the slightest lost-time accident and production increased to a record amount in the last quarter. In Norway, the processing plant’s ramp-up was suddenly interrupted by the operating incident that occurred on the TTI plant furnace on August 15th, 2016. This led to the total shutdown of the plant to repair the furnace’s refractory p-walls. It came back on stream in 2017 and resumed its ramp-up.

  • 613,000 tons
    of mineral sand concentrate extracted in 2016.
  • 3 million
    hours worked.

Dredging operations by Grande Côte Opérations in Senegal © GCO / ERAMET

GCO teams present cheques to Diogo and nearby villages in a ceremony as part of their community actions © GCO / ERAMET

Rehabilitation operations by Grande Côte Opérations in Senegal © GCO / ERAMET

TiZir’s Tyssedal plant in Norway © ERAMET



After recoverable fractions are extracted, 98% of the sand is put back in its place. A few months later, the dunes are shaped back into their original topography and replanted to limit the risks of erosion and restore the baseline environment. By the end of 2016, 140 hectares have already been restored.


In addition to the creation of local jobs, Grande Côte is funding infrastructure for drinking water, education, healthcare and agriculture. In 2016, it helped to finance Ouakam maternity clinic and donated medical equipment and two ambulances. It also fully funded construction and facilities for Ngouye Beye and Darou Beye primary schools.


With rising global living standards and growing urbanisation, demand for titanium dioxide to make the materials needed to equip and decorate housing will grow over the long term. Titanium dioxide is used as a pigment for paint, paper and plastic for its whiteness and opacifying properties. Zirconium is especially appreciated for its refractory and opacifying properties as well as its glossiness and whiteness. It is used, in particular, in ceramics, investment casting, nuclear power and jewellery.