Mitsui to close several Japanese plants and expand in China

Japanese firm Mitsui Chemicals is planning to shut down operations at several sites, while expanding others in an effort to become more profitable. The company is moving away from commodity isocyanate and phenolic chemicals that are currently oversupplied in Asia, and concentrating on xylene diisocyanate (XDI) and other specialities for which it is the main supplier. It is also aiming to decrease exports to China, which have been devalued by the weakness of the Yen, and establish new production plants in China to compete in the growing local market.

Mitsui will completely close its Kashima works, as well as the phenol and bisphenol A plants owned by its Chiba Phenol joint venture with Idemitsu Kosan. Mitsui will also cease its Japanese production of diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MDI) at Omuta, and convert that site to produce larger volumes of speciality isocyanates including XDI. The company will continue to produce toluene diisocyanate (TDI) at Omuta, and MDI through its Korean subsidiary.

To combat the high export duties and transport costs of shipping phenols from Japan to China, Mitsui intends to build a large scale phenols plant in China to compete in the local market, in partnership with Chinese chemicals giant Sinopec.

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