“The Northeast Asia region has become today’s caustic consumption powerhouse,” Hazel Kreuz said, referring to China, Japan, Mongolia and South Korea.
“It is shifting to the high cost global chlor-alkali region, becoming the price-maker,” she added.
Alumina is separated from bauxite by using a hot solution of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) and lime (calcium oxide) - two key raw materials. The chlor-alkali process is the technology used to produce chlorine and caustic soda.
According to Kreuz, caustic is in a price upcycle globally, and prices will continue to rise until new capacity comes on stream - albeit at a slower rate than in 2017.
“All regions will see rising caustic margins,” she told delegates at Metal Bulletin’s 24th Bauxite and Alumina conference in Montego Bay, Jamaica.