Eti Sodas 1m. tpa soda ash plant at
Soda ash is a vital raw material in the manufacture of glass,
chemicals, and detergents, and is produced worldwide,
predominantly as a synthetic grade through the Solvay Process
Natural soda ash production,
usually from the hydrated sodium bicarbonate carbonate mineral
trona, has a distinct processing cost advantage over the more
widespread Solvay Process consuming limestone, salt, coal, and
However, commercially developed
resources of trona, or the sodium bicarbonate mineral
nahcolite, are relatively rare. Indeed, recent years have seen
leading Indian soda ash producers secure overseas natural
producers in Africa and the USA.
Until 2009, production of soda ash
from natural sources was limited to the USA, Kenya, Botswana,
and China. But that year witnessed a new entrant to the natural
soda ash market, Eti Soda AS of Turkey.
In its first year of production in 2010, Eti Soda impressed the
European soda ash supply market by almost meeting its forecast
output of 1m. tpa of natural dense soda ash.
| Monohydrate process to produce soda ash from
| Source: Eti Soda
2010 was a very important
year for us to get the product right. Customers are now
convinced that we are a reliable source of soda ash for Europe
and the Middle East. Sinan Solaklar, sales and marketing
director for Eti Soda told IM.
Eti Soda is now working on
significantly expanding soda ash production capacity at its
Beypazari operation, while its majority partner, Ciner Group,
has started a major development at the nearby Kazan trona
We shall become a crucial
player in the soda ash market once our projects are
finished. said Solaklar.
Until Eti Sodas emergence,
Turkeys only producer of soda ash was Soda Sanayii AS, of
Şişecam Chemicals Group, with a 1m. tpa synthetic
soda ash plant at Mersin, on the south coast of the
The Beypazari trona deposit was discovered in 1979 in a coal
mining area located in the interior of Central Anatolia about
100km north-west of Ankara. Exploration and evaluation studies
were undertaken during the 1980s.
The Beypazari district is a Miocene
basin of volcano-sedimentary rocks with trona, lignite, and
bituminous shale occurring in the lower part, and sodium
sulphate and gypsum occurring in the upper part of the
The 8km2 trona deposit, located north of the village
of Zanviye, is associated with shale in the lower part of the
Hirka Formation and alternates with bituminous shale and
One of the two huge soda
ash crystallisers inside the Beypazari plant.
A total of 33 trona beds are known:
16 in the lower trona lens and 17 in the upper lens. The
thickness of individual trona beds in both lenses ranges from
0.4 to 2 metres.
The principal sodium carbonate
minerals are trona, minor nahcolite, and trace amounts of
pirssonite and thermonatrite. Trona and dolomite are associated
throughout the trona zone. Calcite, zeolites, feldspar, and
clay minerals are the most common minerals found within the
associated rocks of the trona deposit. The trona crystals,
which are generally white and occasionally gray due to
impurities, occur in massive units and as disseminated crystals
in claystone and shale.
There are 12 mineable trona seams,
and the ore body depth is 350-500 metres. The ore reserves
measure 237m. tonnes with an average grade of 85% trona,
although recent exploration drilling is expected to reveal an
increase in reserves.
Eti Soda and development
In June 1998, Eti Soda was established, a joint venture between
privately owned Ciner Group (74%) and state-owned Eti Maden
By 2004, process and pilot solution
mining testing was completed and by 2007 some 29 well units had
In May 2009 the cogeneration plant
was built and in June 2009 the processing plant was complete
and start up commenced.
Eti Sodas trona operation is unique in employing an
extensive multi-well solution mining method with a complex
array of well heads and connecting pipelines.
| Soda ash uses
Source: Eti Soda
A well unit generally consists of a
pair of sunk wells. One is used to inject a hot (70-80¼C
at 1,000m3/hr) dilute soda solution as the solvent,
which dissolves the ore in an underground cavity.
The other well is used to pump out
the concentrated trona solution for processing at the plant via
the monohydrate process (see schematic diagram).
Advantages of multi-well solution
mining include: higher ore recovery; lower investment and
operating costs; better supervision; safer mining conditions;
and being environment friendly.
In addition to the key consumables
of ore, steam, power, and water (see diagram), Eti
Soda claims solution mining offers minimised effluent with no
solid waste discharge, and in comparison with the Solvay
Process, water consumption is 80% less and steam consumption is
At Beypazari Eti Soda operates a
vast array of 120 wells in 45 multi-well units employing
vertical and horizontal access wells to the trona seams. Ore
recovery on average is in the order of 35%.
Around 50km of pipelines, insulated with mineral wool and
aluminium sheeting, connect the 120 wells to feed the process
plant. To produce 1.1m. tpa of soda ash, an average of
8m.m3 brine is required to be pumped to the process
soda ash production, natural & synthetic, (m.
Source: Eti Soda
The plant has two production lines
of 500,000 tpa soda ash which feed four huge 5,000m3
silos. While the majority of output remains in bulk, bagged
product has increased to 18-10% of production from 12% in
Production & expansion
The operation commenced in 2009 with the aim of ramping up to
an initial production capacity of 1m. tpa of natural dense soda
ash and 100,000 tpa of sodium bicarbonate.
During January 2010, 40,930 tonnes
of soda ash was produced, and by December monthly production
had reached just over 90,000 tonnes.
Total production for 2010 was
800,302 tonnes soda ash, and sales amounted to 822,454 tonnes.
For sodium bicarbonate, production was 44,944 tonnes and sales
Production for 2011 is projected to
be 1m. tonnes soda ash and 70,000 tonnes sodium
Now working to full capacity and with its 2011 output sold, Eti
Soda has recently started work on expanding its soda ash plant
capacity to 1.7m. tpa dense soda ash, in addition to 100,000
tpa sodium bicarbonate. The expansion is scheduled to be
operational in 2013.
| Eti Soda exports 2010
| Source: Eti Soda
Soda ash is trucked 250km from Beypazari to the port of
Derince, near Istanbul, where the company has invested in
dedicated state-of-the-art silo and loading facilities.
Facilities include three 3,500
tonne silos using gravity to load vessels (typically of 12,500
dwt) at a maximum rate of 8,000 tpd.
About 2,500 tpd of soda ash is
trucked to Derince, and shipment tonnages, mainly of bulk soda
ash, are in the order of 8-12,000 tonnes. Eti Soda is also
looking to expand the facilities at Derince.
Supplying one grade of dense soda
ash (typically min. 99.5% Na2CO3) to all
the primary soda ash markets (ie. glass, chemicals,
detergents), most of Eti Sodas output (93-95%) is
In 2010, the majority of exports
were destined for Europe, although Eti Soda also supplies Asia,
Africa, and the Americas (see chart).
Luxembourg-based Traxys has the
exclusive sales and distribution rights to Eti Sodas
products for a large part of Europe, including France and
Ciner develops Kazan trona
Ciner Group further strengthened its position in the soda ash
supply market by acquiring the huge Kazan trona deposit
reserves from Rio Tinto Plc in January 2011 for an undisclosed
| Multi-well solution mining
at Beypazari: typical well pair pumping down hot solvent
and extracting trona solution
Covering an area of
20km2, about 50km from Beypazari, and 35km
north-west of Ankara, the Kazan deposit hosts a resource of
some 800-900m. tonnes of trona.
Studies conducted by Rio Tinto
revealed 607m. tonnes of economic reserves grading 31% trona,
including 61m. tonnes of mineable reserves. Rio Tintos
original project envisaged a 1.8m. tpa soda ash plant
Construction work on the pilot plant, already well underway, is
expected to be complete by the end of 2011.
| Location map showing Beypazari and Kazan trona
districts in Turkey
Three wells are being sunk, each
taking about one month to construct, and each will be tested,
taking a further three months.
All being well after test work, a
first phase of 1m. tpa soda ash plant construction will
commence in 2012, concluding for start up in 2014, followed by
Phase 2, to 2m. tpa soda ash ready for start up in 2015.
The Kazan operation is also planned
have 200,000 tpa sodium bicarbonate production capacity.
Unlike with Beypazari, production from Kazan will be railed to
port, with the operation being just 15km from the nearest
Guray akmakei, mine
manager, Eti Soda (top), explains the
intricacies of a well head control point, while Alain
de Taillandier, manager, Traxys France
(bottom), poses outside a typical well head
array, one of 120 feeding the Beypazari plant; note the
main pipeline in the middle distance.
Helvaci, C. (1997), The Beypazari Trona Deposit, Ankara
Province, Turkey, paper presented at 1st International Soda Ash
Conference, 10-12 June, 1997.
IM is grateful to Eti Soda AS and Traxys for their
kind hospitality and co-operation in organising a visit to
Beypazari and Kazan earlier this year.