Curitiba plant was expanded recently and is operating at 100% capacity; Chilean unit on the same path
Carlos Silveira — Foto: Guilherme Pupo/Valor
Peróxidos do Brasil, a joint venture between the Belgian Solvay and the Brazilian group Produtos Químicos Makay (PQM), has just completed a $78 million expansion investment package and is already evaluating a new round of growth to meet the demand for hydrogen peroxide projected for South and Central America as of 2025.
The Curitiba plant, the world’s largest hydrogen peroxide factory, was recently expanded and is at a 100% capacity with 250,000 tonnes per year. The recently inaugurated unit in Chile, which has received an investment of $60 million, is moving in the same direction.
“It is the first plant on the west coast of South America, which gives us an important competitive advantage,” said Carlos Silveira, Peróxidos do Brasil’s CEO. In addition to the logistics benefits, having a plant in Chile, close to major consumers, allows the company to position itself better than its Asian competitors in terms of customer service.
Hydrogen peroxide is used as an input in several industries, including pulp and paper, mining, cosmetics, and cleaning products. In Chile, it is widely used in salmon farming. When purified, it is essential in the manufacture of semiconductors.
The Chilean plant was approved for construction in 2019. It was originally scheduled to be ready in 24 months, but the pandemic delayed the project, which was completed at the end of last year. The plant, which has been operating since January, is located in Coronel Industrial Park, in the Bío Bío region, and will be officially inaugurated Thursday.
According to Mr. Silveira, the project was constructed in two stages. The first, with a capacity of 24,000 tonnes per year, is already fully occupied. The second, which will increase the total capacity to 36,000 tonnes per year, will reach 100% occupancy next year.
Chile is the second-largest consumer in South America, after Brazil. In addition to the salmon chain, which has broken demand records in recent years, pulp producers and mining companies are important customers in the region.
“We have already made export deliveries to Peru and Colombia. The new plant gives us the flexibility to use more than one point of origin for exports [which previously came entirely from the Curitiba plant],” said the executive, adding that the cost of natural gas is also on the list of competitive advantages.
Due to its scale, the Curitiba plant is more competitive and will continue to be the company’s main export base to South and Central America. At the same time, demand in Chile still exceeds Peróxidos’s installed capacity in the country.
According to Mr. Silveira, the surge in hydrogen peroxide consumption last year led the company to import the product to meet all the orders in the region. This year, the demand has normalized, and the Chilean plant is already in operation.
Peróxidos do Brasil does not disclose financial information. However, given last year’s sales of 260,000 tonnes and international hydrogen peroxide prices of between $1,050 and $1,100 per tonne, the company’s estimated 2022 sales are at least $273 million.
With the splitting of the Belgian group into two listed companies in December, the peroxides business will become part of the “new” Solvay, which will focus on basic chemicals. The other company, which will focus on highly innovative businesses, will be called Syensqo.
The current CEO of Peróxidos do Brasil will leave his position and move to Brussels, where he will become the global CEO of Solvay’s Peróxidos business. With 17 plants and about 770 employees worldwide, it is the second-largest business area of the “new” Solvay.
*Por Stella Fontes — São Paulo
Source: Valor International