ERJ Tire & Rubber Business Tracker

EU chemical trends data… Rubber share prices… Mercedes-Benz recall… Hankook for new Honda Accord… ContiTech VP on new business models… Bridgestone closure…  Four dead in Tüpraş blast  SRI runflats for Lexus.. 



Cefic has issued EU chemical industry data for Q3/17: Chemicals output ▲3.3%, Chemicals producer prices ▲5.4%, Chemicals sales ▲8.3%, Consumption▲7.7%, Exports ▲8.5%, Imports ▲6.1%, Trade surplus ▲13.8%, Employment ▲1.1%

Closing share prices of selected rubber companies on 16 Oct (14 Aug closing price): Avon Rubber plc (LSE) 999.50p (1,000.20p) / Bridgestone Corp. (Tokyo) Yen5,358.0 (Yen4789.0) / Cabot Corp. (NSYE) $58.51 (51.94) / Daetwyler Holding AG (SWX) CHF161.90 (CHF157.0) / Fenner plc (LSE) 320.54p (333.70p) / Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (Nasdaq) $33.04 ($30.20) / Michelin (Paris) €121.30 (€117.15) / Nokian Tyres plc (HEL) SEK38.44 (SEK36.31) / Sumitomo Rubber Industries (Tokyo) Yen2,116 (Yen1,796) / Trelleborg AB (STO) SEK202.30 (SEK189.60).

Over 1m Mercedes-Benz cars and SUVs are being recalled due to potential fault that could cause unintended airbag deployments. The recall includes 495k vehicles in the US, 400k in the UK, 76k in Canada and several 100k in Germany.

Honda has designated a 17-inch version of Hankook‘s Kinergy GT UHP tire as an OE fitment on its 2018 Accord. Hankook said it will be supplying tires in 225/50R17 V, which Honda documents show as the car’s standard size. The Korean tire maker already supplies OE tires for Honda’s Civic and CR-V.

In the US, the Hose Manufacturers Conference, 24-25 Oct in Fairlawn, Ohio will feature a keynote presentation by Andreas Gerstenberger, ContiTech executive VP and head of its Industrial Fluid Solutions business. His presentation will focus on the global transformation of industrial and automotive business models.


Bridgestone Canada Inc. plans to close its Firestone Textiles Co. facility in Woodstock, which produces nylon-6-based reinforcement for Bridgestone’s tires and non-tire businesses and external customers, by H2/18. The closing impacts 170 employees. Bridgestone cited “increasing global competition and difficult market conditions” for its decision.

In Turkey, four workers were killed in an explosion at the Tüpraş İzmir refinery on 11 Oct. The company is investigating the incident, which happened during post-maintenance work in a product tank.

Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd has started supplying its high-performance “SP Sport Maxx 050 DSST CTT” runflat tires to Lexus for use as factory-standard tires on the car maker’s LC. The tire is claimed to employ “cutting-edge” runflat technology and achieve “exceptional safety performance” and provide “superior manoeuvre-ability and refined riding comfort.”

In the US, Smithers Rapra has expanded its existing chemistry laboratory space by over 40% (about 2,000 sq ft): adding a new extractables and leachables lab at its ‘global business accelerator’ unit, near Smithers’ HQ site in Akron.

German group BASF has stopped delivering and is withdrawing unprocessed TDI following the supply – to 50 EMEA customers – of materials contaminated with dichlorobenzene in August and September. The withdrawal process is to be completed by the end of next week, as announced 11 Oct by BASF, which is investigating the cause of contamination.

Michelin has signed a commercial agreement with Ashok Leyland to supply its Michelin X Guard range of radial truck tires for its Captain 3718 PLUS long and medium distance commercial vehicles.

In the US, Streetsboro, Ohio-based PVC compounder Aurora Plastics LLC is expanding into thermoplastic elastomers with the acquisition of S&E Specialty Polymers of Lunenburg, Massachusetts.


Michelin solutions has won a tire-management contract with global transport and logistics company XPO Logistics covering nearly 80% of its 17,000-strong European fleet. The three-year deal marks one of the largest and most complex commercial vehicle tire contracts in the sector, said Michelin, which already had a 9,000-vehicle contract covering close to 90% of XPO’s French-based fleet, plus all truck and trailer assets in Poland and Romania

As of 1 Nov, Wacker is raising its prices for silicone polymers, silicone fluids and silicones from downstream production stages. The company’s pyrogenic silica HDK will also be affected. Depending on product family, region and business field, the price increase will range up to 25%, if permitted by existing customer contracts. This measure is linked to increasing raw-material and energy costs.

Toyota has selected an 18-inch version of Hankook‘s Kinergy GT all-season premium grand-touring tire for OE fitment on “select” 2018 Camry models, including models sold in North America. Hankook called the OE deal with Toyota a “successful milestone,” considering that the Camry was the No. 1 selling passenger car in the US in 2016.

Bridgestone Canada Inc.‘s plant in Joliette has been recognised as a “significant job creator” in Quebec’s Lanaudière region and for providing a “safe and innovative working environment” for its 1,300 employees, by a coalition of local industrial and labour groups. Last year saw the launch of a $250m, five-year expansion at the 50-year-old car and light truck tire plant.

Nikkei-TOCOM Rubber Index fell 8.6% in September to 88.38 and 8.3% lower than in the previous month. Trading volumes for natural rubber in Tokyo rose 18.3% month-on-month and 28.1% to reach 165,690 last month.

In the US, tire barcode label maker FineLine Technologies Inc. has acquired Data2 Corp. a St. Louis-based global service bureau provider of barcode and RFID tags and labels. FineLine said the move was part of a program to expand into advanced barcoding and RFID-enabling technologies for hard-to-tag products in the retail and other industrial supply chains.

Lyondell Basell has awarded Fluor the engineering and procurement contract for its 445ktpa propylene oxide and 998ktpa tertiary butyl alcohol project at its Channelview and Bayport complexes, near Houston. The project is due fir completion in 2021.

Chemours has signed an agreement recognising MacLellan Rubber Ltd as an authorised distributor of its Viton products. This, said MacLellan, makes it one of only a few companies in the UK who are members of the ‘Viton licensee program’.


Workers at Michelin’s Saint-Doulchard facility staged a 24-hour strike on 10 Oct in protest against working-time changes at French site, according to France Bleu. The tire maker, it said, wants them to work on two public holidays in return for double pay and to cancel four days off with compensation.

Short supply has helped push up price of acrylonitrile, a petrochemical used in the production of plastics and synthetic rubber, by 30% over the past two months, reaching a 3-year high, according to Platts.


Indian tire maker Ceat has reportedly acquired 163 acres of land in Chennai to set up a manufacturing plant for radial tires. Citing property consultant JLL India, which facilitated the transaction, India’s Economic Times said Ceat had invested €7.8m in the land and aims to build a greenfield plant in the next five years.

Japan-based Asahi Kasei opened a new R&D centre in Dormagen, Germany, on 1 Oct. An internal unit of Asahi Kasei Europe, the centre will strengthen the technical service network for the customers and serve as the main driver for developing new businesses, product grades and applications for the European market.

Porsche is seeking €200m in damages from its luxury sibling brand Audi over costs related to manipulated diesel engines, Germany’s Bild newspaper has reported.

Gates Corp. has acquired Atlas Hydraulics based in Brantford, Ontario. The acquisition enhances Gates’ portfolio with fluid power solutions and services and complements its existing hydraulic product lines. Atlas will be integrated into a new hose and tube assemblies business unit.

Evonik is to publish its third quarter report 2017 on 3 Nov.


Nokian’s WR D4 shared 2nd position in the 2017 winter tire test by German ADAC. Out of the 16 tires tested, it was the best on snow, performed well on dry and had very low fuel consumption.

Pirelli has engineered a tailor-made version of the P Zero for the new Hyundai i30 N, specially geared to the specific characteristics of the dynamic vehicle. This unique variant of the UHP summer tyre has the dimension 235/35 R19. The new OE-tyre is produced at Pirelli’s plant in Settimo Torinese, Italy.

Nokian Tyres plc will issue its interim report for January-September 2017 on 1 Nov.


Sibur, the Russian Direct Investment Fund and Saudi Aramco signed an MoU on possible cooperation and investment activities in Russia and Saudi Arabia. According to the memorandum, the companies will estimate the potential of the petrochemical markets in Russia and Saudi Arabia and explore opportunities for future cooperation.

Badly maintained tires were by far the most common cause of car accidents in the UK last year, department for transport figures show. Some 446 accidents were linked to issues with tires, compared to 81 for faulty brakes, the next highest danger-factor. Low pressures, worn treads and damage to tires were the main tire problems.

5/10  The United Steelworkers union has sent a letter to South Korean president Moon Jae-in raising concerns about Korean tire maker Kumho‘s ‘union-busting ‘actions towards its workers in the US. It  wants the South Korean government to intervene and ensure that the workers are free to exercise their democratic rights.

Italy’s new-car registrations rose 8.1% to 166,956 units in September the country’s best result for the month since 2009, official figures show. Italy is now set for a fourth consecutive year of sales growth, car importers association UNRAE said regarding the data. Market leader Fiat Chrysler Automobiles saw sales rise 5.2%, helped by a 44% jump in Jeep volume, while core brand Fiat was up 2.7%.

Spanish new-car registrations rose 4.6% in September, as sales to companies continued to outpace sluggish demand from private customers. Registrations increased to 83,291, industry association ANFAC said on Tuesday, despite September having one less working day than in 2016. Sales to companies continued to grow at a brisk pace, with an 8.1% gain, while private registrations rose 3.5%.

4/10  Zeon Corp.’s synthetic rubber business is being impacted by the spike and decline in butadiene prices since the start of the year, Nikkei Asian Review has reported. Profits, it said, have fallen as its rubber prices decline in-line with butadiene, even as it uses inventory acquired when prices for the monomer were high. Zeon will announce a full-year forecast with its next quarterly results on 31 Oct.

Kraton Corp., the Houston-based producer of styrenic block copolymers, specialty polymers and high-value performance products expects to release its third quarter 2017 results after market close on 24 Oct.

3/10  Saudi Aramco has entered into a strategic partnership with Petronas Chemicals Group Berhad to “enhance the value and competitive positioning,”  Aramco has announced. The deal is centered around the major petrochemicals projects within the Petronas Pengerang Integrated Complex in the southern Malaysian state of Johor.

Closing share prices of selected rubber companies on 2 Oct (14 Aug closing price): Avon Rubber plc (LSE) 939.00p (1,000.20p) / Bridgestone Corp. (Tokyo) Yen5,177.0 (Yen4789.0) / Cabot Corp. (NSYE) $57.39 (51.94) / Daetwyler Holding AG (SWX) CHF152.00 (CHF157.0) / Fenner plc (LSE) 339.75p (333.70p) / Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (Nasdaq) $33.57 ($30.20) / Michelin (Paris) €123.00 (€117.15) / Nokian Tyres plc (HEL) SEK37.98 (SEK36.31) / Sumitomo Rubber Industries (Tokyo) Yen2,094 (Yen1,796) / Trelleborg AB (STO) SEK207.30 (SEK189.60).

1/10 Kumho Tire has been saved from imminent bankruptcy by a credit deal put together by a consortium led by state-owned Korea Development Bank, several news agencies including the Financial Times have reported. The FT suggested the rescue partly reflected Korean opposition to the proposed sale of the tire maker to a Chinese company.

Apollo Tyres has issued a statement saying that it “strongly denies the story headlined ‘Apollo Back in Kumho Race as Geopolitics Sours China Deal’ that appeared in the print edition of  The Economic Times on Oct 2, 2017. The company would like to reiterate that it has no intention of making any attempts to enter the process of acquiring Kumho Tyres, as stated in the story.”

Borealis said it will move to the FEED-phase for a 750ktpa propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant at its production site in Kallo, Belgium.  Start-up is scheduled for the beginning of 2022

ExxonMobil said 27 Sept that it is working to restore chemicals manufacturing operations after Hurricane Harvey. Its Baytown chemical plant, Mont Belvieu plastics plant and Beaumont polyethylene plant have resumed normal operations. The Baytown olefins plant was operating at reduced rates. The Beaumont chemical plant was ramping up toward pre-storm production capacity.


29/9  UK car production fell 5.3% to 103,232 units in August, reflecting concerns over Brexit, which hit demand both at home and abroad, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has reported. For the first eight months, output fell almost 2%, to 1.1 million units – a reversal from two years of record demand.

China’s rubber chemicals sector is now among the industries most affected by feedstock shortages due to the increasing crackdown on industrial pollution in the country, according to an ICIS report.

Audi will build electric vehicles at its plants across the world, including sites in Mexico and Hungary, CEO Rupert Stadler told Reuters. Audi has awarded production of its first two mass-produced EVs to its Brussels plant, and has since allocated EV projects to Germany.

28/9  The Vietnam government has announced that rubber exports reached 979,000 tonnes in the last nine months, valued at $1.66bn, up 13.3% in volume and up 52.7% in value on last year.

Goodyear‘s ultra-lightweight Flight Radial aviation tire has been certified by Boeing Co. for use on its 777X airplane. It is the first product to receive Boeing system part certification for the 777X, according to Goodyear.

Increased global demand is set to increase the value of Malaysian rubber exports to over RM27bn in 2017, 10% higher than year, New Strait Times has reported, quoting a government minister.

Nokian Tyres has launched the eNTyre C/S, an all-season tire designed specifically for the North American sport-utility/crossover vehicle (SUV/CUV) market. The tire will eventually be made at the company’s new US plant.

A processing-related fire broke out 21 Sept at Titan Tire Reclamation Corp.‘s OTR tire recycling facility in Fort McMurray, Alberta causing an as-yet undetermined amount of damage. The blaze started in a thermal vacuum recovery unit used for reclaiming large mining tires.

26/9 Continental Tyres, part of Continental AG, has been selected to share its expertise with the UK members of the parliament in review of the country’s industries 2016/2017.  The review was officially launched at the House of Commons on 19 Sept.

Chairman of China’s state-owned Sinopec, Wang Yupu, has stepped down  to head the country’s work safety watchdog, according to a stock market filing.

25/9 The Indian state of Kerala, which accounts for 82% of the country’s natural rubber production, is mulling setting up a factory using public-private partnership rubber production model, according to news report.  The factory, said reports, would manufacture value-added products from rubber latex.

22/9  Cooper Standard Automotive Inc. has officially opened a new, 138,000-sq.-ft. site in Sherbrooke, Quebec. The $10m project consolidated three existing Industrial Specialty Group units, bringing 250 employees under one roof. The Canadian site will produce extruded EPDM rubber sealing products for non-automotive industrial, commercial and speciality vehicle markets.

21/9 Rubber, both natural and synthetic, has had the biggest increase among major commodities imported by China so far this year, according to Reuters. Citing the country’s customs data, the Reuters said 19 Sept, that combined natural and synthetic rubber imports were up 24.3% year-over-year at 4.45 million tonnes in the seven months to end of July.

20/9 Michelin has officially launched Rubberway, an online platform to map the CSR practices within its supply chain: from the collection of latex, to the transport of gum bales and industrial processing. The application was developed in collaboration with Montpellier-based IT firm Smag.

Volvo could double investment in its first US plant, now under construction in Charleston, South Carolina, Automotive News Europe has reported. A new plan would see the addition of a second production line at a total cost of $1bn, said the report, citing a Reuters source. The car plant is due to start up next year.

19/9  BASF and Solvay have signed an agreement related to the sale of Solvay’s integrated polyamide business to BASF. The purchase price on a cash and debt-free basis would be €1.6 billion.

Closing share prices of selected rubber companies on 18 Sept (14 Aug close): Avon Rubber plc (LSE) 955.00p (1,000.20p) / Bridgestone Corp. (Tokyo) Yen4,893.0 (Yen4789.0) / Daetwyler Holding AG (SWX) CHF155.00 (CHF157.0) / Fenner plc (LSE) 333.31p (333.70p) / Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (Nasdaq) $32.38 ($30.20) / Michelin (Paris) €119.25 (€117.15) / Nokian Tyres plc (HEL) SEK37.12 (SEK36.31) / Sumitomo Rubber Industries (Tokyo) Yen1,956 (Yen1,796) / Trelleborg AB (STO) SEK201.90 (SEK189.60).

Key Pirelli shareholders Camfin and Rosneft do not intend to sell their remaining stakes when the Italian tire maker returns to the stock market, Reuters has reported CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera as saying. Pirelli will offer up to 40% of its equity capital in an IPO on the Milan stock exchange next month.

17/9  In India, the price of RSS1 natural rubber for the week ending 9 Sept was $221.60/100kg , data from the country’s Rubber Board shows. This was up from its equivalent  value of $215.70 on 2 Sept, but still well behind the $240.65 noted in the first trading week of last month.

Volkswagen Group plans to launch a number of fully autonomous level 5 electric cars, vans and trucks starting as early as 2021. It will begin by testing them at its headquarters in the near future. CEO Matthias Mueller told reporters that the Sedric self-driving concept, which debuted in Geneva in March was only the beginning.

Pirelli scaled back an initial valuation goal of €9bn ahead of next month’s return to Milan’s stock market next month, in response to a negative reaction by several fund managers, according to a Reuters report. The valuation revised down to a €6.3-8.3bn range.

In the UK, Birmingham rubber and plastics products manufacturer CB Frost & Co. has been bought by its management  in a seven-figure deal, according to an Insider Media report. With more than 20 employees, the company designs and manufactures bespoke products for industries including rail, construction, energy, automotive, military, defence and medical.

15/9 Air Liquide Engineering & Construction  and Mitsubishi Chemical  have signed an agreement to​ ​license​ ​the latter’s​ ​butene-to-crude-butadiene​ ​technology​ ​used​ ​in​ ​the​ ​petrochemical industry.  The company has developed a new oxidative dehydrogenation technology of n-butene to produce crude butadiene and verified the viability in its demonstration plant in Mizushima, Japan.

Vystar Atlanta-based manufacturer of Vytex deproteinised natural rubber latex, is joining with Blue Bell Mattress Co. to make the Natura Vytex Collection, a line of luxury mattresses.

14/9 European new-car sales rose 5.5% in August, according to ACEA figures published today. The growth figures build on an increase of 2.6% reported in July. August registrations reached 903,143 vehicles in the EU and EFTA countries, the Brussels-based industry body said.

Korean tire-maker Hankook is also supplying original fitment tires both for the Opel Insignia Grand Sport saloon and for the Sports Tourer estate models. One of the ex works options for the 2017 model is the ultra-high-performance tire Ventus S1 evo2  which comes with Hankook’s “sound absorber” technology.

BMW plans to cut around €2bn from its annual spend on transmission components and other parts to help fund it electric vehicle (EV) ambitions, Bloomberg has reported. The car maker, it said, aims to launch at least 12 EVs by 2025, and so will seek to trim about 5% from spending on car parts alone.

13/9 China butadiene (BD) market remains strong due to tight supply and lesser volumes being offered by state-owned local supplier Sinopec, according to the latest ICIS report. Prices for local BD rose by yuan1,600/tonne from end of August to Yuan12,500-12,700/tonne DEL east China on 7 September, according to ICIS.

12/9  Environmental enforcement is taking a heavy toll on Chinese chemicals makers this year. According to sources, over 5,000 small chemical companies have been shut down in and around Zibo, Shandong province, alone. The area is a centre for a manufacturing and petrochemicals industries.

Closing share prices of selected rubber companies on 11 Sept (14 Aug close): Avon Rubber plc (LSE) 935.00p (1,000.20p) / Bridgestone Corp. (Tokyo) Yen4,825.0 (Yen4789.0) / Daetwyler Holding AG (SWX) CHF151.4 (CHF157.0) / Fenner plc (LSE) 344.75p (333.70p) / Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (Nasdaq) $31.55 ($30.20) / Michelin (Paris) €118.15 (€117.15) / Nokian Tyres plc (Hel) SEK36.38 (SEK36.31)  / Sumitomo Rubber Industries (Tokyo) Yen1,924 (Yen1,796) / Trelleborg AB (STO) SEK198.20 (SEK189.60).

German interior car parts maker Eissmann Automotive intends to invest up to €6.5m in a fresh expansion project at its production operation in north eastern Hungary. The group plans to construct a new production hall on land acquired last year in the city of Nyíregyháza.

China is considering setting a deadline to end sales of fossil-fuel powered vehicles and so accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in the country. The move to more energy-efficient cars and trucks would cut air pollution and reduce oil imports, according to Chinese officials.

11/9 Continental AG has commissioned service provider Eco Vadis to conduct a continuous sustainability evaluation of its existing and potential suppliers, with focus on raw material suppliers and service providers for specific categories such as freight.

8/9  A federal judge in Des Moines has fined Titan Tire Corp. and Dico Inc., both subsidiaries of Titan Int. Inc., nearly $11m for allegedly selling contaminated buildings to avoid a site clean-up. The 5 Sept order was the latest event in a case filed seven years ago on behalf of the EPA.

Global chemicals production rose 0.6% in July, according to the American Chemistry Council‘s Global Chemical Production Regional Index. That rate is a quicker pace than in June and May, as measured on a three-month moving average basis, according to a release.

North Carolina authorities have started a civil court action against Chemours for dumping chemicals into the Cape Fear River. According to a 5 Sept statement from officials, Chemours’ permit for discharging wastewater into the river also has been suspended, as the company had failed to “adequately disclose the release of GenX into the river.”

7/9 The latest Audi RS5 Coupé will be factory fitted with Hankook’s Ventus S1 evo² tyres. Both the standard 19-inch and the optional 20-inch versions of the tire are equipped with noise-absorbing technology, Hankook said.

6/9 Michelin North America Inc. has acquired certain assets related to laminated maps from Streetwise Maps, the largest publisher of such maps in the US. ” Financial terms of the all-cash deal were not disclosed. The business went into hibernation in August 2016, according to a posting on

5/9 Pirelli is to sell up to 40% of its share in an IPO at the Milan Stock Exchange, according to a Reuters report. The Italian tire-maker, now owned by the state-owned ChemChina will test demand for “high-end” consumer tires and has been valued at between €7.6bn and €8.7bn, according to confidential papers seen by Reuters.

DowDuPont completed of the merger between the Dow and DuPont on 31 Aug, immediately prompting the process of creating three new industry-leading entities in agriculture, materials science and speciality products. According to a 1 Sept statement by DowDuPont, three advisory committees have been established by the company’s board to oversee the establishment of each of the companies, with separation expected in 18 months.

4/9 Toyoda Gosei is acquiring 100 percent of Pecval Industria Co., a Brazilian manufacturer of automotive interior and exterior parts. The transaction, said the Tokyo-based automotive supplier, will be completed by end of the year and is aimed at consolidating Toyoda Gosei’s business foundation in Brazil’s “promising market.”

Toyo Tire & Rubber has promoted Roy Bromfield to president and CEO of Toyo Tire USA Corp. (TTC) responsible for all product categories of Toyo-branded business in the U.S. replacement market.

1/9 Irish Cement’s €10-million plans to burn tires and other recyclable materials instead of fossil fuels have faced objections from the Environment Protection Agency and local planners. According to local newspaper Limerick Leader, an oral hearing was held for the company on 30 Aug, where it was told the plant goes against EU and government policy.


31/8  Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd (SRI) will integrate its rubber group’s sports business via mergers between SRI and Dunlop Sports Co. Ltd – SRI’s sports business subsidiary – and between SRI and Dunlop International Co. Ltd, which engages in the overseas ‘Dunlop’ brand sporting goods business activities. The mergers, involving acquisition and transfer of shares will happen on 1 Jan 2018.

Russian synthetic rubber producer Nizhnekamskneftekhim plans to double its production of isoprene rubber SKI from its current 270ktpa, according to local Kazan News website. The company, it said, is also planning to increase the production of its halobutyl and butyl rubber to 220ktpa by 2021

Yokohama Rubber has started supplying “Geolandar G055” as OE for FCA US’ new Jeep Compass, which went on sale in North America in June 2017. The new Compass will come factory-equipped with 225/55R18 98H size tires.

30/8 Chinese ministry of commerce MOFCOM is starting an anti-dumping investigation into imports of ‘hydrogenated butyl rubber’ from the EU, US and Singapore, Reuters has reported. ERJ’s China correspondent found no official statement about a HNBR investigation on the MOFCOM website and, instead, noted Chinese media reports of a probe into ‘halobutyl’ rubber imports.

China’s weekly market price index for rubber prices increased by 1.2%, with synthetic rubber and natural rubber up 2.1% and 0.6% respectively  over  the previous week (14-20 Aug), MOFCOM data shows.

29/8  Closing share prices of selected rubber companies on 28 Aug (14 Aug close): Avon Rubber plc (LSE) 975.00p (1,000.20p) / Bridgestone Corp. (Tokyo) Yen4,668.0 (Yen4789.0) / Daetwyler Holding AG (SWX) CHF150.0 (CHF157.0) / Fenner plc (LSE) 353.25p (333.70p) / Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (Nasdaq) $30.32 ($30.20) / Michelin (Paris) €116.90 (€117.15) / Nokian Tyres plc (Hel) SEK35.42 (SEK36.31)  / Sumitomo Rubber Industries (Tokyo) Yen1,759 (Yen1,796) / Trelleborg AB (STO) SEK186.30 (SEK189.60).

Fenner plc has acquired Revolution Drives Inc., a “small specialist precision polymers business” focussed on power transmission and motion control. The US firm has an international customer base, added Fenner’s 25 Aug announcement.

Nissan Motor is to upscale its Sunderland, UK car plant by 20% and double the share of UK-sourced parts to 80%, Nikkei Asian Review has reported. The intention, it said, is to offset higher costs after Brexit.

27/8  New Singapore derivatives exchange Asia Pacific Exchange Pte (Apex), is considering rubber-contract future listings, following its launch later this year of a palm olein contract, Reuters has reported.

Saudi Aramco and SABIC have signed heads of agreement to conduct a feasibility study on the development of a fully integrated crude oil-to-chemicals complex in Saudi Arabia, the companies have announced.

25/8  H1 figures published by EU chemicals body Cefic: chemicals output ▲3.1%, Chemicals producer prices ▲5.7%, Chemicals sales ▲8.0%, Domestic sales ▲15.0%, Consumption▲8.9%, Capacity utilisation ▲3.2%  ERJ report

UK car production rose 7.8% 136,397 vehicles in July as manufacturers raised output to meet an annual demand-spike in September, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said 24 Aug. The rive reversed a downward monthly trend since March.

Yokohama Rubber Co. has started deliveries of its global flagship “ADVAN Sport V105” tire for use as the OE on Subaru’s WRX STI, released 20 June after a major redesign. It will come equipped with 245/35R19 89W size tires in Japan and overseas.

 Hankook Tire America has received bronze and finalist awards for a pair of futuristic concepts at the 2017 International Design Excellence awards ceremony 19 Aug. The company collaborated with students from the University of Cincinnati to design Flexup and Shiftrac, which received the bronze and finalist awards, respectively.

24/8 Pirelli is likely to place 30-40% of its shares in an IPO, which is expected in early October, Reuters has cited two sources close to the matter as saying. The Italian tire maker was delisted from the Milan stock exchange in 2015 following its takeover by ChemChina.

23/8 Bridgestone is releasing a new winter tire on 1 Sept with 31% improvement in noise and 22% improvement in abrasion resistance, according to a report by Nikkei Technology. The new product, BLIZZAK VRX2, is the updated version of Bridgestone’s BLIZZAK series which have been on the market since 1988.

Trelleborg Sealing Solutions has been awarded a Bosch global supplier award in the field of ‘mechanics’. The Bosch Group recognised 44 suppliers from 11 countries with Bosch global supplier awards.

22/8  Closing share prices of selected rubber companies on 21 Aug (14 Aug close): Avon Rubber plc (LSE) 1,015.00p (1,000.20p) / Bridgestone Corp. (Tokyo) Yen4,674.0 (Yen4789.0) / Daetwyler Holding AG (SWX) CHF154.1 (CHF157.0) / Fenner plc (LSE) 341.25p (333.70p) / Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (Nasdaq) $29.74 ($30.20) / Michelin (Paris) €115.00 (€117.15) / Nokian Tyres plc (Hel) SEK35.47 (SEK36.31)  Sumitomo Rubber Industries (Tokyo) Yen1,785 (Yen1,796) / Trelleborg AB (STO) SEK186.80 (SEK189.60).

Pirelli is building a new rubber compounding facility at its production plant in Breuberg, Odenwald, according to German news website Gummi Bereifung. Groundbreaking took place for the new mixing plant in July, the report added.

A fire broke out on 22 Aug at ExxonMobil’s refinery in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. According to a Reuters report, the fire took place in the powerformer unit of the complex and some flaring occurred to reduce pressure. No injuries have been reported.

21/8  The process to sell a majority 42.01% share of Kumho Tire to Qingdao Doublestar Tyre has had a new setback with the Chinese company demanding a new buyout term, according to the Korean business newspaper Pulse News.

Russia rubber manufacturer Nizhnekamskneftekhim is planning to increase synthetic rubber volumes to 1m tonnes a year by 2021. According to Russian newspaper Realnoe Vremya, to achieve the increased capacity, the company has invested in automated equipment, with three robots replacing 20 people, who have been transferred to other jobs.

India’s anti-dumping body has established that the country’s tire manufacturers are injured by Chinese imports and may impose anti-dumping duty  of up to $452.33 per tonne on a certain variety of Chinese pneumatic radial tyres.

18/8 For its fiscal Q1/18, Indian tire maker BKT has reported a 7.5% rise in sales to INR10,128m on volume growth up 7%. The Indian tire maker, though, noted some softness in the market due in part to a sluggish pick-up in US demand.

The International Tripartite Rubber Council, which represents the world’s top natural rubber producers Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand will discuss export curbs at a meeting in Thailand in September, an official at Thailand’s rubber authority told Reuters.

Kraton Corp. has closed a €260m term loan. Proceeds will be used to prepay a portion of an outstanding $886m balance under a USD-denominated term loan facility. Since acquiring Arizona Chemical in January 2016, “we have worked diligently to improve our overall capital structure.” said Stephen Tremblay, Kraton’s Executive VP and CFO.

Global styrenic block copolymers maker Kraton recently posted a 15.5% y-o-y rise in Q2 sales to $525.3m and adjusted EBITDA 9.4% higher at $101.5m. ” Both our Polymer and Chemical segments experienced solid end market demand fundamentals and sequential margin expansion,” said president and CEO Kevin Fogarty.

CEO of major UK car dealership chains Lookers Andy Bruce told Reuters that he now expects the British new-car market to shrink by 3% this year, downgrading his outlook due to Brexit and political uncertainty. New-car registrations in Europe’s second biggest car market are down 2% year to date, industry data shows.

16/8 In the UK, the High Court has granted Ineos Shale injunctions prohibiting unlawful acts by protestors including trespass and harassment. Any obstruction of its business, people or suppliers is now a contempt of court – including slow walks and lock-ons. The injunctions, granted 31 July do not interfere with the right to lawful, peaceful protest

Industrial robot sales are growing at an annual rate of 15-20% in China, according to the International Federation of Robotics. Within a year, it estimates, sales in China surged by 27% to 87,000 units (2016), with the country’s operational stock of industrial robots now at the highest level in the world.

The relevance of auto shows is being questioned as automakers are increasingly holding their own events or attending smaller, showcase events. The shift is underlined by the brands that will skip next month’s Frankfurt show, including Peugeot, Fiat and seven other marques that account for 20% of all sales in Europe, reports Automotive News Europe.

15/8 Share prices of selected rubber companies on 14 Aug: Avon Rubber plc (LSE) 1,000.20p / Bridgestone (Tokyo) Yen4789 / Daetwyler Holding AG (SWX) CHF157.00 / Fenner plc (LSE) 333.70p / Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (Nasdaq) $30.20 / Michelin (Paris) €117.15 / Sumitomo Rubber Industries (Tokyo) Yen1,796 / Trelleborg AB (STO) SEK189.60.  (Regular updates ahead)

The Sadara JV between Dow Chemical and Saudi Aramco has completed the commissioning of all 26 plants at its $20bn petchems complex in Jubail, Saudi Arabia with the start-up off a unit for the manufacture of toluene diisocyanate – used mainly as a raw material for flexible polyurethane foam.

Toyota, Intel, NTT DoCoMo and other technology and automotive companies are forming a consortium to advance the use of big data used in connected cars. The Automotive Edge Computing Consortium also includes telecoms equipment giant Ericsson, Japanese automotive parts maker Denso.

Mercedes-Benz sales in China jumped 32% year-on-year to 48,588 vehicles in July as the German luxury brand enjoyed strong demand for its long-wheelbase E-class sedan.

Also in China, Audi‘s deliveries rose 10% last month from a year earlier to 51,235 vehicles as Volkswagen Group‘s luxury brand rebounded from a dispute with dealers that had damaged sales for months.

The city of Texarkana has authorised the issuance of up to $250m in industrial development bonds to support investment by Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. in its car and light truck tire plant in the Arkansas city. The bonds will bear interest at 5% annually and mature in 2047, according to official documents.

Mitsui Chemicals has reported “healthy” overseas demand for its elastomers performance compounds and PP compounds for automotive applications in the first quarter to 30 June. The company is to add 5,000 new capacity for its thermoplastics olefinic elastomers in the third quarter.

Kuraray has reported a 7.9% rise in sales year-on-year at its Isoprene business to ¥28,009m in its fiscal Q2, to 30 June  Segment income rose 2.3% year on year to ¥4,080m. Sales of fine chemicals, SEPTON thermoplastic elastomer and liquid rubber remained stable despite the effects of fluctuations in raw material and fuel costs.

US hose and belt demand is forecast to reach $6.8bn in 2021, a report recently released by Freedonia. Rising transportation equipment output will spur demand for products such as vehicular hoses and power transmission belts. Domestic oil and gas production is also expected to increase through 2021, which will benefit suppliers of related hoses.

Ansell Ltd has posted an 8.0% year-on-year drop in earnings (EBIT) to $217.8m on sales 1.7% lower at $1,600m for its the financial year ending 30 June. The group linked the declines to higher raw materials costs and lower sales in some areas of the gloves market

1o/8 Bridgestone Corp.has blamed increasing raw materials costs for a 7.3% fall in H1 operating income, to $1.8bn, despite sales 5.8% higher at $15.5bn. The group’s tire division reported operating income down 6.7% to $1.65bn on 6.4% higher sales of $12.8bn.

Also in Japan, Sumitomo Rubber Industries has posted a 27% fall in H1 operating income to $188.9m due largely to “soaring prices” for raw materials. SRI is expecting a significant recovery in its performance in the second half of 2017.

9/8 Sumitomo Rubber Industries  is to stop OE tire manufacture for Goodyear in the US, instead making Falken brand tires at its Buffalo plant, Nikkei has reported.

In Finland, Nokian Tyres has posted Q2 (April–June 2017) results showing net sales up 16.5% to €393.0m, including a €10.9m currency-related gain. Operating profit increased 21.5% to €94.1m.

Mercedes has warned than an Indian government proposal to increases taxes on luxury cars and SUVs could impact the car maker’s expansion plans in the country and hurt sales.

Yokohama Rubber has been selected for inclusion in three stock indexes focused on companies showing strong environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. In addition to the FTSE Russell FTSE4Good Index, it is now in FTSE Russell’s FTSE Blossom Japan Index and MSCI Inc.’s MSCI Japan ESG Select Leaders Index.

8/8 Bridgestone is to invest around $300m over five years to expand its Pune (Chakan) and Indore (Kheda) tire plants in India‍, Reuters has reported.​ The aim, it said, is to raise production capacity by about 15,000 units/day, lifting output from both plants to 41,000 units/day by 2022.

Forbo has completed the placement of 63,000 treasury shares, representing 3.5% of its share capital and the majority of the treasury shares held by the company. The placement generated about CHF91m for the Swiss manufacturer of floor coverings, adhesives, power transmission and conveyor belt products.

7/8 Shares of DowDuPont will begin trading on 1 Sept, with a market value of around $150bn. The world’s largest chemicals group is to divide into three separate companies focused on agriculture, specialty products and materials in early 2019.

Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM) said 4 Aug that July 2017 daily average volume was 111,540 contracts, up 15.9% from June. This was despite weakness around some commodities including Rubber, which was down 5.1% to 7,957 contracts.

In its latest survey of UK chemicals makers, the London-based Chemical Industries Association has reported that 50% of member companies expect exports to increase over the next 12 months compared to only 6% expecting a decrease.

4/8  UK car registrations fell 9% in July, the fourth consecutive month of declines. The result is the latest sign of how uncertainty about Brexit is hitting Britain’s economy, the SMMT industry body said.

Indian OTR tire maker BKT has reportedly announced plans to build a 60ktpa carbon black plant at its facility in Bhuj, Gujarat.

Germany’s ElringKlinger recently completed a €200m loan placement. Strong demand from investors prompted oversubscription, it said 14 July. Proceeds will be used for general corporate financing, particularly refinancing of existing Dettingen/Erms-based group liabilities.

Thailand’s largest natural rubber manufacturer Von Bundit Co. Ltd  is the newest associate member of the International Rubber Study Group, the IRSG announced 28 July.

3/8 The Delhi government is likely to impose antidumping duties on radial tires imported from China “soon”, according to India’s Economic Times. Quoting government sources, the newspaper said that the relevant authorities in the country had established that “Chinese companies are charging [consumers] almost 20% less than the Indian companies.”

2/8 Sri Lanka’s production of natural rubber fell by nearly 50% in 2016, according to Colombo Rubber Traders Association (CRTA). According to CRTA chairman Sunil Poholiyadde crop production fell by 79 million kilos in 2016.

A Guide to Powertrains, by ERJ sister publication Automotive News Europe, shows 96 locations — up from 91 last year — where the engines, transmissions and the new wave of components that support the move to electrified drivetrains are built in Europe, Russia, Turkey and beyond.  This year’s map shows the electric shift is accelerating in Europe.

PSA Group completed the acquisition of the Opel and Vauxhall brands from GM on 1 August to become Europe’s second biggest car-maker by sales.

1/8 Kumho Petrochemicals has reported an 18.4% decline in net profit to €27.6m in the second quarter of 2017, due mostly to poor performance of its synthetic rubber business. A company official speaking to Korea Business Post said a fall in SR prices and customers’ delaying purchase in Asian countries had led to the drop in results.

Royal Dutch Shell has halted all loadings at its refinery in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, following a major fire. According to press reports, the fire broke out at Shell’s Pernis facility, Europe’s largest oil refinery, in the evening of 29 July.


28/7 The long-delayed merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont is likely to complete in August, according to market analysis firm Seeking Alpha. 

The Bosch Group gave Dow Corning, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Co., the global supplier award at a gala award ceremony on July 12 in Stuttgart, Germany. Issued every two years, the award recognises companies that have demonstrated outstanding performance in the manufacture and supply of products or services to Bosch, according to a Dow company statement.

27/7 The Indian government is likely to impose anti-dumping duties of up to $266 per tonne on a certain type of rubber, according to local press. Money Control reported on 25 July that rubber used in items like footwear and conveyor belts, from EU, Korea and Thailand.

Vietnamese rubber giant, Hoang Anh Gia Lai, has agreed to end a dispute with local villagers by returning 15 “spirit mountains” to ethnic minority villages, according to local press. Khmer Times reported 26 July that the exact location of the land to be given back will be identified later.

General Motors said its net income dropped 42% to $1.66bn in the second quarter, primarily because of the pending sale and restructuring of its European operations.

The UK government has introduced a plan to ban new diesel and petrol car sales by 2040. The decision is part of the government’s action plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations.

Production among UK manufacturers grew at the fastest pace since January 1995 in the three months to July, according to the latest quarterly Confederation of British Industry (CBI) industrial trends survey.

26/7 Yokohama Rubber Co has extended its jersey sponsorship agreement with English Premier League Champion Chelsea Football Club (FC) to add its recently launched Alliance Tyres brand on the left sleeve.

Marangoni Tread North America has launched a “Retread Instead” initiative to enhance the awareness of the benefits of retreading inviting other retread industry players to join the effort.

Sumitomo Rubber Industries is sponsoring English Premier League club Liverpool FC through the Flaken brand. The deal sees Falken become a global partner and official tire partner of the club. 

25/7 Kumho Tire workers have reportedly warned that they will go on a strike to stop the selling of a 42% majority stake in the company to China’s Qingdao Doublestar Co. According to Yonhap news agency a “joint committee against the sale of Kumho Tire to an overseas company” has said that the workers would stop all production lines at the tire-maker’s local plants and stage a general strike.

24/7  Continental AG has advanced with the development of technologies for driverless vehicles with the development of a demo vehicle CUbE. The vehicle will start its trials at Conti’s Frankfurt location, which contains a typical city infrastructure such as street signs, cross-traffic, pedestrian crossings and curbs.

China’s ZC Rubber will be supplying original equipment OTR tires for forklifts made by Linde Forklift Truck Corp. ZC Rubber will supply Chaoyang- and Westlake-brand tires in more than 20 sizes to the Asian R&D, manufacturing, sales and service base of Aschaffenburg, Germany,-based Linde Material Handling.

21/7 Pirelli Deutschland has named Michael Wendt as its CEO, according to press reports. Wendt will succeed Frank Delesen who left the position for “personal reasons”.

The volume of Cambodia’s rubber exports doubled to 65,556 tonnes in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period last year. According to a report by Khemr Times, the plantation area increased by 11.6% to 433,827 hectares. Total cultivation by June this year also increased by 70% to 92,379 tonnes, up from 54,320 in the same period last year.

Covestro has renewed long-standing polymer-distribution contracts with partners Mito Polimeri and Plastotecnica in Italy. As well as a range of plastics, the agreements cover the German group’s Desmopan and Texin thermoplastic polyurethanes – many of these are elastomer materials.

20/7 Kumho Tire management have reportedly partially-agreed with a new offer made by creditors to resolve a dispute over royalty rates for the brand. Kumho official, according to Yonhap news agency, have agreed to shorten the royalty term to 12.5 years but still insist that the royalty figure should be 0.5% of annual sales. Kumho creditors had offered 0.35% of annual sales to allow would-be buyer Qingdao Doublestar Co. to use the trademark.

AkzoNobel NV‘s chief executive Ton Büchner has stepped down from his position with immediate effect, citing “health reasons”. The departure comes amid pressure from AkzoNobel shareholders to accept a buyout offer by US-based PPG, which Büchner has resisted.

The total amount of plastics ever made is 8.3 billion tonnes, of which 30% is still in use, 60% has been landfilled or remains as litter, 12% has been incinerated and less than 10% has been recycled, according to a University of California study.

19/7  Cefic Monthly Summary: EU chemicals monthly industry trends for April: Chemicals output ▲2.1%, Chemicals producer prices ▲5.7%, Chemicals sales ▲7.8%, Domestic sales ▲6.5%, Exports ▲10.8%, Imports ▲5.2%, Consumption▲6.2%

Daimler will spend $255 million to update more than 3 million Mercedes diesel cars in Europe. The steps are being taken to cut pollution from nitrogen oxide emissions, the company said.

In China, Huntsman and Sinopec’s propylene oxide /methyl tertiary butyl ether (PO/MTBE) plant in Nanjing, had a successful trial run in July, according to report by local newspaper Nanjing Daily. The JV project has 240ktpa planned capacity for PO and 742ktpa for MTBE.

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution “forcefully demanding” that the European Commission develop a cohesive industrial policy strategy promoting re-industrialisation by the start of 2018, according to chemical industry association Cefic.

UK CO2- to-polyols startup Econic has opened a 650m2 facility at Alderley Park, relocating operations from its London’s Imperial College incubator. The company secured €5.8m investment in July last year and won an EU Horizon 2020 SME award in late June.

17/7  Kumho Tire management have apparently threatened to resign ‘en masse’ if the Korean tire-maker were to fall under a “Chinese name”. According to Korean business daily, Pulse News, the threat followed moves by creditors, led by Korea Development Bank to settle a trademark dispute with China’s Doublestar Tyre, which wants to buy a 42% majority stake in Kumho Tire.

Chinese rubber imports doubled in the first quarter of 2017 at 760,000 tonnes, according to figures from the country’s customs office. The official China Rubber Journal reported a year-on-year surge in 125.1%import revenues to over Yuan10bn (€1.28bn). Synthetic rubber imports rose to over 1,000kT, showing a 110% rise in value at Yuan14.7bn.

Cumulative polyurethane production growth in Japan rose 9.5%  to 76 kT by the end of May 2017 compared 9% growth with the period to the end of April 2017. This is the 19th straight month that production has increased in the country, official figures show.

Conti’s new PremiumContact 6 summer tire for mid-range and luxury-class cars has received two design gongs: the IF Design Award 2017 and the Red Dot Design Award 2017.

14/7  Recalls for faulty fuel pump flanges supplied by Continental AG may extend to 13 OEM suppliers and car manufacturers. According to the US agency NHTSA the recalls so far cover 450,000 VW SUVs as well as its Porsche and Audi brands in the US, which have used the parts by the German automotive supplier.

12/7  China’s weak domestic market is driving down spot butadiene (BD) prices in Asia, with deep-sea cargoes expected to increase supply in the region, according to a recent ICIS report. On 7 July, prices were stable week-on-week at $1,025/tonne CFR  northeast (NE) Asia, added the ICIS report.

12/7 Bridgestone has been awarded a Volkswagen Group award in the category of innovation & technology. The award was given to Bridgestone EMEA president and CEO Paolo Ferrari in a ceremony on 28 June.

10/7  Continental AG has acquired Singapore-based mobility intelligence provider Quantum Inventions. The Hanover, Germany-based company announced 7 July that Quantum Inventions will add to its “growing intelligent transportation systems portfolio” with its city data including next generation navigation systems that are “highly responsive” to real-time information such as traffic data, road incident information and dynamic road pricing.

Toyoda Gosei has received a medal for contributions to the development of nanoscience and nanotechnologies from the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organisation (UNESCO). 

6/7  Asia’s spot butadiene price gains have reportedly lost momentum as buyers respond to “extreme volatility in the key Chinese market,” according to 4 July ICIS report. Citing traders, the market analyst website said customers expect Chinese domestic BD prices to decline further in the second half of July, putting pressure on the US dollar import price. According to the ICIS source, spot offers for second-half July cargoes at $970/tonne CFR have seen “little buying interest” synthetic rubber producers.

Nike‘s sales rose 6% to $34.4bn in its 2017 financial year, with footwear sales up 8% to $21bn. North America accounted for $9.7bn of footwear sales; western Europe, $4bn; China, $2.9bn; and emerging markets, $2.8bn.

Two US activist investors are trying to scupper Clariant’s planned link-up with Huntsman to create a major speciality chemicals company by buying a 7.2% minority stake in the Swiss chemical company.

Tire company Michelin, which is also the behind the famous guide to restaurants has acquired a 40% stake in Robert Parker Wine Advocate and, “the world’s most widely read independent consumers’ guide” to fine wine.

Continental is to acquire a minority stake in EasyMile SAS, a French company developing driverless electric shuttles. The pair also plan to cooperate in sensor, braking and safety technologies. An EasyMile 12-person autonomous shuttle has been used in 50 cities across Asia-Pacific, N America, the Middle East and Europe.

Eversafe Rubber, a Malaysian tire retreading company, has been appointed as a distributor of Carl Zeiss Optotechnik’s tire inspection systems, according to a Nikkei Asian Review report.

5/7 Sweden’s SKF is reportedly being sued by Daimler following a 2014 EU settlement for the creation of a ball bearings cartel. According to Reuters, the EU fined SKF and some other suppliers €953m for taking part in a ball bearings cartel. Following the legal action, SKF announced that BMW had opened a lawsuit against it and other bearings maker in November last year.

UK  manufacturing production rose for the 11th consecutive month, but “cooled down” in the month of June, according to Stephen Cooper, head of industrial manufacturing at KPMG UK. According to Cooper, the trend, while still in growth, reflects the uncertainty relating to the outcome of the recent general elextion and Brexit.

A power outage may have caused a chemical vapour leak at areas near Firestone’s plant, in Akron, Ohio, according to the local fire department. News service 5News Cleveland said the neighbourhood had been checked for emissions of volatile chemicals, including acrylonitrile and butadiene.

4/7 China’s Doublestar Tyre has reportedly not applied for Korean approval to acquire Kumho Tire’s defence business – a requirement for it to buy the Korean tire maker. According to Business Korea, despite agreeing to apply for the approval, Doublestar, may now be delaying as it has not reached an agreement with Kumho Asiana Group over trade-mark rights.

A number of Thai government agencies will buy natural rubber from plantations in a bid to contain declining prices in the domestic market, the Chinese Xinhua news agency has quoted Thai officials as saying. Ten government units, said the report, have already announced that they would buy a combined volume of 20,000 tonnes of rubber out of a total of 104,000 tonnes currently kept in government stock.