TRONOX, a titanium oxide producer in which Exxaro Resources holds 38,5%, began trading on the New York bourse yesterday, falling sharply at the start of the session.

Exxaro vended its mineral sands mines in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, as well as its 50% stake in Australia's Tiwest, into Tronox, to create the world's largest integrated producer of titanium ore and titanium oxide, used in pigments and plastics.

Tronox, an existing titanium oxide producer, vended its assets into the venture, and the new company - which retained the Tronox name - began trading on the NYSE yesterday.

Its shares fell 8,6% to $148 by 6pm South African time.

Exxaro referred queries to Tronox, whose executives were visiting its 16 operations globally and unavailable for comment.

Tom Casey, chairman and CEO of Tronox, said in a statement ahead of the listing: "This listing comes at a time of tremendous opportunity for Tronox as our acquisition of Exxaro Mineral Sands has made us stronger and more balanced.

"Tronox is now the world's largest fully integrated producer of titanium ore and titanium dioxide, and we look forward to the increased visibility associated with our listing."

Tronox has identified savings of $30m a year in the enlarged companies. Exxaro executives have said in the past that the company would like to increase its stake in Tronox and take control of the company.

Exxaro is allowed to creep up to just below 50% ownership of the enlarged company over the next three years now that the transaction has been concluded.

"We would have loved to get 100% into this industry," Exxaro financial director Wim de Klerk said in October. However, that was not a practical option when negotiating the deal, he said.

. This article was amended to show the correct Tronox share price of $148, instead of $1,48 as originally confirmed by the company.