09 February 2011 23:08 [Source: ICIS news]
NEW YORK (ICIS)--An official with US soda ash producer General Chemical said on Wednesday that it is not currently expanding its soda ash capacity as was reported by various news organisations within the past week.
According to news reports, General Chemical's India-based owner, Tata Chemicals, planned to spend more than $100m (€73m) to expand General Chemicals’ 2.5m tonne/year soda ash capacity in Green River, Wyoming, by 400,000 tonnes over a period of three years.
The report indicated that an expansion of 100,000 tonnes/year of soda ash capacity was already underway.
General Chemical’s vice president of sales and marketing Conrad Kempinksa said there was no decision at the moment to expand the company’s soda ash production facility.
“The news was misreported,” said Kempinska.
“We are certainly studying a potential expansion under various scenarios given the favourable cost position of our Green River soda ash production, but we did not announce any plans to expand,” he added.
Kempinska said that it would take several years before any such capacity could come on line.
Aside from General Chemical, major US soda ash producers include FMC, Solvay, Searles Minerals and OCI Enterprise.
FMC announced in January that it would restart its Granger, Wyoming, soda ash facility at a rate of 500,000 short tons/year (454,000 tonnes/year) by July 1 in response to stronger export demand.
The US soda ash industry is seeing a supply shortage brought on by increased export demand outside of Europe and North America, Kempinska said .
US producers have been enjoying the cost-competitive advantage of natural soda ash products compared with synthetic soda ash produced in other parts of the world. About 70% of world soda ash production is derived from synthetic processes. The rest is recovered from natural trona deposits, which are mostly found in the US.
“US exports are up by more than 30% year over year. We see strong US export demand continuing this year as cost pressures for synthetic soda ash continue to go up,” said Kempinska.
Pricing for synthetic soda ash in Asia is up by $50/tonne compared to six months ago, he added.
($1 = €0.73)
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