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Inorganic Chemistry

Wyoming soda ash makers to expand

by Michael McCoy
September 27, 2019 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 97, ISSUE 38

 

After several quiet years, the US soda ash industry is making noise. Two companies have announced big investments to expand their operations in Wyoming, home of a low-cost deposit of trona, a mineral from which soda ash (sodium carbonate) is derived. Genesis Energy says it will spend about $300 million to expand the capacity of its operations near Green River, Wyoming, by about 750,000 metric tons (t) per year. The firm runs two mining facilities in the Green River area and as part of the project plans to convert one of them to the solution process practiced at the other. The project will make the expanded plant one of the lowest-cost soda ash operations in the world, Genesis says. Similarly, Solvay says it will spend about $200 million to expand its Wyoming soda ash plant by 600,000 t and a sodium bicarbonate plant in Bulgaria by about 200,000 t. Solvay expects global soda ash demand to grow 10 million t by 2030 because of demand in places like Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa for extracting lithium and making detergents and glass.

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