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.
Updated to Q3 2019
Asian melamine supply remained long despite China’s melamine plants operating at reduced rates in a bid to cope with oversupply and negative margins. As a key exporter, China’s monthly exports stood at more than 20,000 tonnes in the third quarter.
Downstream polyester plants were maintaining higher run rates of more than 85% in the third quarter, especially in September, amid the peak manufacturing season and comfortable margins. Port inventories fell to 639,000 tonnes at the end of September from more than 1m tonnes in July, amid the higher off-take rates.
The European melamine market has been well supplied in the third quarter and has been placing downward pressure on prices continuously this year. Planned shutdowns in Europe had minimal impact during the quarter, highlighting the relaxed availability. Previously, Chinese export material into Europe material was attractive despite the anti-dumping duties in place, weighing on supply. Eastern European levels have been mentioned at competitive levels, due to increased supply from China entering the market.
Melamine demand was stable-to-lower than expected depending on end-use and source. Melamine demand in the wood-based panel sector has been viewed as challenging in cases. Around 75% of melamine consumption is attributed to the wood-based panel industry. The third-quarter is traditionally a weaker period linked to summer shutdowns and a general slowing in market activity during the holidays.
Supply was little changed in Q3. There were no domestic production issues and overseas turnaround activity did not adversely impact on the flow of imports. The US has been a net importer of melamine since 2015. Cornerstone Chemical is the only domestic melamine producer in the US. Most US supply is imported from the Netherlands, Trinidad andTobago, Germany and Japan.
Demand remained soft in Q3. Seasonal demand was present, but limited by underperformance in certain sectors amid global economic headwinds. Q3 contracts settled at a decrease. Q4 contract discussions were muted for most of the quarter, but gained momentum towards its close. Some buyers of imported material had begun talks earlier.
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Melamine was originally manufactured by heating dicyandiamide under pressure.
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.
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