“Continued investments in our leadership positions have ensured that we are well positioned going into 2013”
Despite a slowdown in our markets, we achieved solid results in the range of our record year 2011. Continued investments in our leadership positions, combined with ongoing cost-saving and efficiency measures, have ensured that we are well positioned going into 2013.
Our Chlor-Alkali business had its best ever year, mainly due to our strong chlorine portfolio and a favorable price situation for caustic. We were all but sold out for much of 2012, well ahead of the European chlorine industry from a utilization perspective. MCA also posted an excellent year as we harvested the benefits of recent expansions and cost-saving programs. We are now the clear market leader in the US and China and in Europe we are a co-leader. Our Salt activities had to cope with two issues that influenced the business’ performance. First of all we had no real winter – which impacted sales of road salt – and secondly a broken canal lock near our Dutch Hengelo site caused major shipment problems and resulted in lost volumes. Both effects were compensated by excellent business to the chemical industry, which posted a record volume. Our Energy activities faced several challenges and as a result we had to mothball our large Delesto 2 cogeneration unit at Delfzijl in the Netherlands. We are now investigating several alternatives for generating steam.
We began work at our Taixing site in China ahead of a major expansion which will further increase its annual production capacity for MCA to 100,000 MT. Once complete, the Taixing facility will become the biggest MCA plant in the world. A groundbreaking ceremony was also held at Frankfurt in Germany, where we are investing €140 million to modernize and expand manufacturing and switch our chlorine production from mercury to the very latest membrane electrolysis technology. One highlight we were particularly proud of was the fact that we received both the Dutch Responsible Care Award and the European Responsible Care Award. The former was presented by the Dutch Chemical Industry (VNCI) and the latter by the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic). Both awards recognized the DME-based DeMythe LDD technology we developed with Spanish partner GRIT which is helping to revolutionize the leather and protein industries. We also secured our first license for the technology, which is used to remove water and grease from animal skins and makes the process far more sustainable and less harmful to health than more conventional methods.
The first licensing contract for our mTA technology for the salt and chlorine industries in China was signed and we gained approval to store strategic oil reserves in our salt caverns. We already store gas and nitrogen and are investigating the possibility of using the caverns to store energy as compressed air to cope with fluctuation of wind energy. In addition, we have ongoing initiatives targeted at significantly increasing steam production from renewables (for example through waste incineration) and are looking into ways we can improve the eco-profile of our suppliers and raw materials.
Geo-mix revenue by destination