Plants: Mitsui Chemicals opens first European site for PP compounds; BASF to cease US catalyst plant operations by 2021

Mitsui Chemicals opens first European site for PP compounds

Mitsui Chemicals and subsidiary Prime Polymer Co. (owned 65% by Mitsui Chemicals and 35% by Idemitsu Kosan) have launched operations at Mitsui Prime Advanced Composites Europe B.V. (ACE), a joint venture first established in June 2018 with Mitsui & Co. Located within Chemelot Industrial Park in the Netherlands, ACE marks the Mitsui’s first polypropylene (PP) compounding site in Europe. The plant has capacity of 30,000 tonnes/year. With this plant, Mitsui has boosted global PP compounding capacity to 1.12 million tonnes/year globally.

By launching ACE, Mitsui says it is getting together an integrated European system for research, production and sales. This will allow the group to provide lightweighting solutions to automakers and auto parts manufacturers with European bases while also responding to global demand growth.

At present, the Mitsui operates production sites in eight regions around the world (Japan, US, Mexico, Europe, Thailand, China, India, Brazil) and research sites in six regions (Japan, US, Europe, Thailand, China, India). The group is now moving to bolster its research, production and sales networks for high-quality PP compounds, which will contribute to lightweighting in the automotive sector.

While forecasts point to reduced automotive production volume around the world due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19, it is expected that the global needs for automotive lightweighting will continue to rise as a result of strengthening environmental regulations. Mitsui says it therefore expects that there will be no change to the upward demand trend for bumper, instrument panel and other auto parts materials employing PP compounds to meet these needs.

BASF to cease US catalyst plant operations by 2021

In other news, German chemicals firm BASF says that it will close its manufacturing facility in Erie, Pennsylvania, US, in 2021. The facility produces process catalysts used primarily in the petrochemical industry.

Despite significant investments to improve assets, long-term profitable operations are no longer possible in Erie, it adds. “The decision to exit operations in Erie is based on longer-term business considerations and customer needs.”

“This is a difficult situation and we are grateful for the BASF Erie site team’s dedication over the years and during the transition,” said Travis Rollins, Site Manager for BASF’s Erie facility. “Our priorities continue to be the well-being of our employees and maintaining safe operations during the closure process.”

Most production operations will cease by the end of 2020. The facility will continue to fulfill confirmed customer requests through the first quarter of 2021, and final decommissioning and demolition work are anticipated through mid-2022.

Approximately 75 positions will be phased out starting with the ceasing of operations in December and continuing through the decommissioning process. BASF says it will provide severance and outplacement services to employees, including support for employment at other BASF facilities.


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