US expansions to bring 1.35 mln tpy of soda ash to market

By Michael Greenfield
Published: Friday, 01 November 2019

New US soda ash production capacity totaling 1.35 million tonnes per year will not meet expected demand, market sources say.

Two soda ash producers have announced capacity expansions in the two days running up to the market’s annual event - the World Soda Ash conference - which will add 1.35 million tonnes per year of combined production to the global market.

The announcements came in the days before soda ash market participants gathered in Cannes, France, for the annual WSAC event over September 24-26, when the industry gauges sentiment before contract negotiations begin in the following months.

French-headquartered chemicals conglomerate Solvay said on September 24 that it will add 600,000 tpy of soda ash capacity at its Green River facility in Wyoming, United States.

This announcement came the day before its Wyoming neighbor, Genesis Alkali, said it will add 750,000 tpy of capacity to its Granger plant.

Construction of the Granger expansion will begin in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to a company statement, with production expected to be available for sale in the second quarter of 2022.

During construction, the site will continue to produce at present rates, the company said without including details on current output. The US expansion for Solvay will start ramping up by the end of 2021.

This is the third expansion in US capacity this year. Turkish-owned Ciner Resources will add 4 million tpy of capacity at its operations also situated in Green River, Wyoming, Fastmarkets reported in April.

Market participants have largely shrugged off the news of additional supply, saying the volumes are not enough to cover expected demand. The market requires 1.2 million tpy of additional production to cover growth, whereas neither Solvay nor Genesis’ expansions will reach the market for several years.

Two sources added that while the market is currently balanced, the fact that there is no new capacity due in the market over the next 12-24 months should support tighter market conditions.

Fastmarkets assessed the price of soda ash, natural, dense, large contracts, fob Wyoming at $185-225 per tonne on August 29, a level it has held since February.

Solvay said in April it will gain 500,000 tpy of soda ash production by 2021 via debottlenecking of existing processes across several sites.