Soda ash Prices, markets & analysis
ICIS provides independent and unbiased pricing information, news and market analysis for the global Soda ash market. Our network of soda ash price reporters, based in Asia, Europe and the US, deliver local insight for each of these markets, which is published in our individual weekly and daily price reports.
If you buy or sell Soda ash or related products, our reports, news and market intelligence will give you the soda ash prices and analysis of the factors driving the prices that you need to make confident commercial decisions.
Our editor gives their expert view
Soda Ash Overview Transcript
Soda ash or sodium carbonate is non-combustible and non-toxic. It is produced predominantly by one of two major routes. The longest established method is synthetic chemical process known as the Solvay ammonia soda process. The second is by the treatment of naturally mined Trona ores.
Soda ash is mainly used in the production of glass, which accounts for around half of global consumption.
Other significant applications are in the soaps and detergents and chemical industries.
The dense grade is used mainly for making glass, while the light grade is used in the detergents and soaps industry.
The Asia soda ash market is generally quite slow moving. The main suppliers to the Asia market are China, the US, and Indian producers
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Soda ash: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2014
Fourth-quarter US prices are likely to be steady but under upward pressure on steady demand and tightening supply.
US producers could continue to capitalise on the closure of uncompetitive plants in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia to gain new export markets as they work independently to try to raise domestic prices by about $15/short ton ($16.50/tonne). Exports to China and Indonesia are down on lower prices in those regions, but sales to Japan and South Korea are up.
Exports for US natural soda ash processed from the mineral trona are growing, up to 3.34m tonnes through July compared with 3.14m tonnes through the first seven months of 2013, according to figures from the US Geological Survey. The US exported 6.47m tonnes of the 11.5m tonnes produced in 2013.
Following the closure of two European plants earlier this year, supply has been snug in Q3 and this looks set to continue into the fourth quarter. Demand has been deemed regular by some producers and buyers, and it is thought that few changes are expected. With many market participants working to annual price contracts, they are already looking ahead to 2015. One producer is expecting a double-digit price increase next year.
Negotiations on fourth quarter and 2015 annual price settlements are in progress. Suppliers of US origin dense grade soda ash are seeking a $10-15/tonne hike on fourth-quarter deliveries over third-quarter levels. Third-quarter prices were heard settled at around $260/tonne CFR SE Asia, an increase of around $8/tonne from second-quarter levels.
Buyers, however, are reluctant to accept hikes of above $5/tonne on fourth-quarter prices, in view of spot prices for Chinese material at $245-260/tonne CFR SE Asia/NE Asia for October deliveries.
In Japan, market players are in discussions to finalise annual contract prices for 2015. A key buyer indicated that it could consider a maximum 10-15% increase in contract prices, in view of reduced global soda ash overcapacities in the past two years following plant closures.
Demand from the downstream glass sector in Japan was expected to be boosted by Tokyo’s hosting of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, although a key buyer added that its soda ash contract volumes for 2015 were unlikely to differ substantially from 2014.
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Soda Ash Methodology
About Soda ash
Soda ash (sodium carbonate) is a white powder with no odour. It is stable and is not flammable, explosive or toxic. It is friable and slightly hygroscopic. Dust is slightly irritating to the eyes, mucous membranes and respiratory tract.
Soda ash is produced mainly by two routes. The longest established method is the synthetic chemical process known as the Solvay ammonia-soda process. The second method is by the treatment of naturally mined trona ores.
The main use for soda ash is the production of glass. It is also used in industrial chemicals and detergents. The remainder is used in applications including pulp and paper, water treatment and flue gas desulphurisation.