Industrial Minerals Events' MagMin Conference welcomed nearly 200 delegates this year in Budapest in what proved to be another great year.
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Laura Syrett, Prices Editor for IM, closely documented the event's proceedings and recorded the following general trends:
Refractories vertical integration under fire
The world’s leading refractories manufacturers defended decisions to invest in upstream raw materials capacity at IM’s MagMin 2014 conference in Hungarian capital, Budapest, in June.
Speaking during a panel discussion about the industry’s dependence on Chinese magnesia, Vasili Nicoletopoulos, director of Premier Magnesia LLC, said that costly mining projects were being developed based on unproven assumptions that Chinese refractory minerals would go up in cost and down in grade.
Bernhard Goliasch, head of group raw materials supply for RHI AG, argued that although Chinese magnesia prices were on a downward trend in 2014, this situation could not be expected to continue.
Speaking on behalf of Magnesita, Jim Piraino, vice president for industrial sales, said that having the capacity to produce high quality deadburned magnesia (DBM) is critical at a time when there is a shortage of high grade magnesia in China.
Turkish magnesite in the EU
Corina Hebestreit, director of Euromines, told MagMin attendees that it will not become embroiled in the political question of Turkey’s accession to the European Union (EU), despite the country’s importance as a magnesite producer.
The EU recently highlighted access to “critical” raw materials, including magnesia, as a policy priority under its Horizon 2020 initiative, but Hebestreit indicated that the Euromines’ present relationship with Turkey on minerals policy and trade was a satisfactory arrangement for raw materials sourcing.
Underinvestment in CCM
Delegates also heard that a lack of investment in developing applications for caustic calcined magnesia (CCM) is preventing the sector from expanding.
Paul Rix, owner of Australia-based Rix Mineral Consulting, told delegates that the structure of the CCM industry does not encourage investment as it is too easy for expensive R&D to be copied.
According to Anthony McEneaney, technical services co-ordinator for Premier Periclase, because CCM is usually produced as a by-product to DBM or fused magnesia (FM), this limits potential to go after market opportunities because the physical and chemical properties of the CCM have not been controlled or optimised.
Cary Ahl, president of AMI Trading and Distribution LLC, said that refocusing the CCM industry as a speciality chemicals business, rather than an industrial minerals business, could be a way forward.
Read coverage of MagMin 2014 in full at www.indmin.com