ERJ staff report (RPN)
By Don Detore, Rubber & Plastics News Staff
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio—If a shortage of carbon black becomes a reality within the next few years as some forecasters suggest, HB Chemical Inc. will be ready.
The chemical company recently became a North American distributor of carbon black produced by Jiang Xi Black Cat Carbon Black Ltd, which claims to be China's largest carbon black manufacturer, as well as the fifth largest in the world.
The initial two-year agreement, the first between the firms, began in January. HB already has distributed about 500 000 lbs of Black Cat carbon black to customers across the US, Canada and Mexico, and it plans to provide all grades of carbon black currently being made by the Chinese supplier.
"The talk among larger users of carbon black is that there could be a shortage from North American producers, possibly in 2014-15, because of tire capacity coming online in the tire market," said Joe Moran, regional sales manager at HB Chemical, located near Akron. "So companies are looking for alternate sources. The bigger users are more concerned right now than the rest of the market."
Moran said domestic producers don't have much ability to expand. "People are going to be looking elsewhere to fill that void," he said.
Last September, Black Cat approached Moran and HB President Jeff Rand, who were both visiting China, about the possibility of an agreement. The Chinese firm, founded in July 2001, intends to produce 900 000 tonnes this year and plans to expand its capacity by 2016 to 1.2 million tonnes.
Black Cat has seven factories with 24 production lines within China, including Beijing. It exports as much as a third of its product worldwide. The firm's customers include Michelin, Bridgestone and Goodyear, among others, in Asia and in Europe.
HB, founded in 1986 as a low-cost provider to the rubber, plastics and coatings industries, has an extensive customer list. The firm distributes "everything from polymers on down," according to Moran. Kumho Petrochemical Co. Ltd. supplies NBR, BR and SBR to HB Chemicals for distribution in North America.
The full version of this story appears on our sister publication Rubber & Plastics News.
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Article from Rubber & Plastics News