Columbian closing UK MT carbon black unit, transferring business to Cancarb
By Patrick Raleigh, ERJ On-line news editor
Marietta, Georgia/Medicine Hat, Alberta-Columbian Chemicals Co. has decided to end production of medium thermal (MT) carbon black at its Sevalco subsidiary in Bristol, UK. Customers will be able to transition to Cancarb Ltd's Thermax brand products, under a deal announced 16 Sept by the companies.
The level of MT carbon black production at the UK unit has been around 7-8 tonnes a year, according to a Columbian spokeswoman. For 2003, the UK unit listed its total carbon black capacity at 105 kilotonnes per annum.
The closure involves 12 job losses among Sevalco staff with some further reductions to the number of contract workers at the site, the spokeswoman added. However, Columbian is not disclosing terms of the deal with Cancarb, she said.
â€œGiven the small-scale nature of production of Sevacarb MT [carbon blacks]s we are not able to achieve acceptable returns on this line of products and have made the decision to exit the market,â€ said Jim Howard, Columbian's senior vice president of marketing, sales and carbon black technology, in a press statement.
Cancarb and Columbian Chemicals will begin contacting customers immediately to begin the transition process, Howard added in a press statement. The products are used in tyres, mechanical rubber goods, inks, paints, plastics and coatings.
â€œThis arrangement demonstrates Cancarb's commitment to the global thermal carbon black market and to working with customers for continual improvement,â€ says Ken Tate, Cancarb's president, in a Cancarb press statement.
Cancarb claims to be the world's largest supplier of thermal carbon black, with a 45-ktpa unit at MedicineHat and customers on six continents. The company also operates a power plant that uses waste heat from the carbon black process to produce around 26 megawatts of electricity for sale to the City of Medicine Hat.
Cancarb has a significant distribution business in the Americas, which supplies the rubber industry with products complementary to its own offerings. The company is a subsidiary of TransCanada PipeLines Ltd.
Marietta-based Columbian, a subsidiary of Phelps Dodge Corp., operates 12 carbon black plants; in Brazil, Canada, England, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Korea, Spain and the US.