Competition heats up in soda ash manufacturing industry

Sapphire Textile Mills Ltd.’s wholly owned subsidiary Sapphire Chemicals (Pvt.) Ltd. announces plans to establish soda ash manufacturing facility

KARACHI: In a letter dated 27 April 2023, the company secretary of Sapphire Textile Mills Limited disclosed material information to the Securities and Exchange Commission in accordance with Section 96 of the Securities Act, 2015 and Clause 5.6.1(a) of PSX Regulations. 

The prominent textile player informed that the its wholly-owned subsidiary, Sapphire Chemicals (Private) Limited, which specialises in the manufacturing, production, refinement, formulation, acquisition, conversion, distribution, buying, selling, importing, exporting, and dealing in all types of chemical products, is planning to establish a soda ash manufacturing facility with an annual capacity of 220,000 tons.

It was also shared that the proposed project has been approved by the board of directors of Sapphire Chemicals (Private) Limited. The project is expected to significantly enhance the company’s operations and contribute to the growth of the chemical industry. 

Moreover, the company requested that this information be disseminated to members of the exchange in a timely and efficient manner.

What is soda ash?

Soda ash or sodium carbonate is a weak base that is soluble in water and dissociates into sodium (Na) and carbonate (CO3) ions in solution. Due to its strong alkalinity and surfactant properties, soda ash plays a critical role in the manufacturing of powdered detergents and soaps. It enhances the solvency of the detergent, making for an effective stain remover, while also reducing the amount of water required. 

Other than the detergent industry, the primary consumers of soda ash are the glass and sodium silicate industries. Common salt (rock or sea) and limestone are the main raw materials used in the production of soda ash, and are readily available in Pakistan, therefore Pakistan does not import soda ash. Additionally, local sources of natural gas and ammonia are used in the manufacturing process.

Who are the existing soda ash manufacturers in Pakistan? 

According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the production of Soda Ash in Pakistan was 46.011 Ton th in September 2018, which marks an increase from the preceding month’s production of 43.341 Ton th in August 2018. The highest recorded production of 47.544 Ton th occurred in March 2018, while the lowest production of 14.694 Ton th was reported in February 2002. 

There are, however, not many soda ash manufacturers in Pakistan. This is because only a few players monopolise the production, with Lucky Core Industries holding the top position as a supplier of soda ash and sodium bicarbonate in Pakistan, at present. Lucky Core Industries has expanded its reach by exporting these products to countries including the UAE, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bangladesh, Tanzania, and Afghanistan.

With new players, such as Sapphire Chemicals (Private) Limited entering the field, this industry has potential to expand Pakistan’s scope of soda ash exporting.

 

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