Our weekly Melamine reports are published for Asia, Europe and the US. Price assessments gathered by our locally based reporters cover spot business in Asia, contract and spot in Europe, and contract only in the US.
The market analysis in the commentary section offers overviews of regional activity, upstream news, production updates, graphs, and any other key factors influencing prices. This independent market intelligence can assist you in making those crucial commercial choices with confidence.
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Melamine news and market information products from ICIS
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Melamine: Market overview
Updated to Q1 2017
Q1 contract negotiations in the European melamine market have reached the height of activity with settlements so far heard at a double-digit increase. At this stage contracts are expected to settle at an increase, with the question currently being discussed as to what increase. The main driver for the price hike continues to be the tightness in China that resulted in a firming of global melamine prices. Imports have fallen because of this, with Europe currently being an unattractive export destination because of the euro against the dollar exchange rate and the pricing level. Supply in Europe is currently balanced-to-snug, with inventories low for European producers. However, in general there is more than adequate European production to meet European demand, and because of this supply is expected to balance as the quarter continues. Demand is healthy and continues to be at a reasonable level in Europe, with demand outside of the region high because of the mentioned supply squeeze.
Domestic US melamine contracts appear to be rolling over in the first quarter, while import contracts look to be slightly stronger. Production levels in 2017 by lone US producer Cornerstone Chemical will be improved in 2017, after two planned turnarounds last year. As a result, exports should rise to more normal levels, and imports should fall this year.
China melamine prices remains uncertain in the first quarter, with price movements to be led by production stability and output from China plants. Price increases in feedstock urea could support prices as well. Downstream buying activities are expected to remain subdued until the market picks up again after the Lunar New Year.
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Melamine was originally manufactured by heating dicyandiamide under pressure. Currently, melamine is produced by the decomposition of urea into cyanic acid and ammonia in an endothermic reaction. Cyanic acid is then polymerised to form melamine and carbon dioxide.
Its most important reaction is that with formaldehyde, forming resinous compounds of high molecular weight. The construction and automotive industries figure high in driving melamine growth. Container and coil coatings, laminates and flame retardant uses have all experienced growth in recent years.
Melamine is used in the production of moulding powder to make dinner ware, coatings in cars, fan coils and appliances. Other uses include adhesive resins, which are used in the making of wood panels for the construction of kitchens, bathrooms, furniture and flooring. Melamine is produced by heating urea, ammonia (NH3) and carbon monoxide, of which the resulting mixture of isocyanic and ammonia reacts over a solid catalyst at about 400ºC.
Melamine is moderately toxic by ingestion and a skin and eye irritant.