Brazilian exports of alumina trihydrate (ATH) increased by
almost 50% throughout 2016 as demand surged in leading
destinations including the US and Japan, trade data
Total exports of ATH from Brazil reached 737,179 tonnes in
2016, according to customs data, marking a 47% hike in volume
Compared with 2014 (452,022 tonnes), the increase was a
The strong performance was supported by a surge in demand
seen in the two largest importing markets, Japan and the US.
Exports to Japan, which had exceeded the 400,000-tonne mark
in 2015, rose a further 10% to 442,670 tonnes last year,
reaching a value of $68m in the period.
For its part, deliveries to the US went from 65,890 tonnes in
2015 to over 241,000 tonnes last year – a surge of
In value terms, ATH exports to US customers totalled $37.1m
against $11.1m in the previous year, equivalent to a 234%
|Brazilian ATH exports (tonnes,
Industrial Minerals, Brazilian
The uptrend in demand from the US is thought to have been
affected by the closure of two major alumina refineries, Alcoa
Inc.’s Point Comfort plant and Sherwin Alumina
Co.’s plant, both in Texas.
More broadly, regulatory frameworks on flame retardants
– one of the main applications of ATH – are
being updated to phase out the use of halogenated,
bromine-based flame retardants, which pose health hazards, in
favour of halogen-free materials, such as ATH.
The latest data confirms what IM has been
told by ATH market participants, who pointed to higher supply
of Brazilian material reaching US customers.
As a consequences, sources spoke of a general situation of
price weakness due to steady availability of material despite
the reduction in capacity.
Although suppliers of cables and wires are moving away from
bromine towards ATH and other halogen-free materials, the
market remains well covered, preventing any growth in demand
from boosting market prices.
A European-based ATH producer told IM:
"Cable and wire customers are not willing to pay any more [than
they do at the moment]. Nobody is ready to pay more.
"Some were saying there would be an increase of 10-12% after
the closures in the US, but it hasn’t happened