US soda ash production in July increases by 6% month on month

05 September 2013 22:51  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US soda ash production hit 1.02m tonnes in July, up 6% from 962,000 tonnes produced in June and matching the highest level of 2012 set in August, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported on Thursday.

For the year, US production centered in the Green River Basin of southwestern Wyoming is up 5% from the first seven months of 2012, according to the USGS monthly Mineral Industry Survey.

The USGS reports export numbers a month later than production and consumption figures.

Exports in June of 445,000 tonnes were down 17% from May and 22% down from the June 2012 figure, according to the report. But exports for the year, accounting for 56% of US sales, are up 4.6% over 2012.

Mexico overtook Brazil as the US’s largest export market for the year by taking 82,200 tonnes in June, compared to Brazil’s 18,700 tonnes. That was down from 127,000 tonnes to Brazil in May and 92,500 to Mexico during that month, according to historical figures.

Indonesia held on to No 3 with shipments totaling 68,000 tonnes in June. Chile with 41,600 tonnes and Canada with 28,100 tonnes held Nos 4 and 5, respectively. The top five destinations have accounted for 51% of US soda ash exports so far this year, according to the USGS figures.

The average price for US soda ash exports was $194/tonne (€147/tonne) in June, up from $193 in May.

The US imported just 411 tonnes in June at an average of $170/tonne, according to the USGS report.

Domestic US consumption was up 27% in June from May and up 2.9% so far for 2013 compared to 2012, a reflection of a reviving US industrial sector and increases in auto glass and construction flat glass, according to market participants.

Domestic consumption has been in decline for decades as consumers have turned away from glass containers in favour of aluminum and plastic and moved toward liquid detergents rather than powdered, among other changes.

Most US producers are report operating at or near capacity levels and several are in the midst of expanding capacity with new equipment, advanced operating procedures and manufacturing efficiency programs, most companies have reported in recent months.

The US industry is preparing to increase prices by an average $15/tonne for product delivered in 2014 as demand rises and the industry feels the crunch of higher fuel costs for production and seeks capital for improvements.

($1 = €0.76)

By: Bill Bowen
+1 713 525 2653

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