Turkey’s Yildirim Group is entering the soda ash
market with a greenfield project in Kazakhstan that will
produce 400,000 tonnes per year of material and serve the
local and regional markets despite new capacity from
producers already on stream.
Yildirim is known for producing chrome ore and ferro-chrome.
It first made its intention of moving into the soda ash sector
known in October 2016 when it signed a deal in a
Kazakhstan-Turkey investment forum.
Since that agreement, two existing soda ash producers have
announced they will bring new capacity to the market.
Ciner Resources will add 4 million tpy of soda ash
production in the United States and Solvay will add 500,000 tpy
across its Europe and US plants via debottlenecking.
According to Yildirim, this will not affect the outlined
investment, "Our product is mainly for internal supply of
Kazakhstan and nearby countries such as Russia, therefore
Solvay and Ciner’s expansions don’t
affect our target markets," Yildirim Group told
"Also we do not expect soda ash to be imported into
Kazakhstan, when the plant is producing locally," the company
Yildirim is expected to bring its 400,000 tpy plant in the
Taraz region online by 2022.
The company will then look to expand the
plant’s capacity to 1 million tpy but has not
disclosed the timeline for this and has said this depends on
"internal and external demands for the product."
Taraz is in the south of Kazahkstan, close to the border
with Kyrgyzstan, 500km west of Almaty, which is
Kazakhstan’s biggest city.
The 1-million-tpy plant is medium-sized compared with its
European counterparts. Tata Chemicals has a 400,000 tpy plant
in the United Kingdom and Ciner Group has a 2.5 million tpy
facility in Turkey.
But the market could remain tight. Despite the new capacity
in the pipeline, the global market continues to grow at 2-3%
Market tightness has been caused by continued growth in
consumption which has outstripped supply.
Some producers believe the current price of soda ash is not
high enough to warrant significant effort in new capacities to
meet this growing demand.
The price for soda ash, natural and synthetic, dense and
light, large contracts, delivered Europe was €195-230
($218-258) per tonne on March 28.
This was up from $190-210 per tonne in October, a price rise
which has been caused by the market imbalance.