Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (MCC) announced its decision to end methyl methacrylate (MMA) monomer and methacrylic acid (MAA) production at the Beaumont site of its subsidiary, Lucite International, Inc., after determining that upgrading the plant would not be cost-efficient.
The facility located in Nederland, Texas, U.S.A., which started operations in 1992, has an annual production capacity of 135,000 metric tonnes. The facility, which uses the traditional acetone cyanohydrin (ACH) process method, will be shuttered effective February 28, 2021.
The Japanese chemical company said the decision was made to boost its competitiveness and optimise its supply chain in keeping with demand and supply trends for raw materials.
Lucite International has methacrylate manufacturing, sales and distribution capabilities across EMEA, The Americas and Asia Pacific. As a group company of Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, the group is the world’s largest producer of MMA.
MMA monomer is a raw material for acrylic resins used in vehicle lamp covers, signs, aquarium tanks, construction materials, paints, and other offerings. MAA is a raw material for paints, adhesives, synthetic rubber, concrete admixture, and other offerings.
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation (MCHC), which made the announcement on November 4, 2020, factored an impairment loss on the facility and shutdown-related costs for its results forecast for the year ending March 31, 2021 of approximately USD230 million.
Meanwhile, a spokesman confirmed that Lucite International’s “Alpha 3” plant, which uses the more advanced technology, is in the design phase and is expected to be fully operational in 2025. Plant capacity is 350,000 metric tonne methyl methacrylate, the company announced in March. Based on readily available raw materials: ethylene, methanol and carbon monoxide, the Alpha technology has allowed Lucite International to significantly improve operational costs and remove constraints on plant size, the company said.
The new Alpha 3 plant would use ethylene-based technology, utilising the plentiful supply of ethane in North America, which will lower production costs. The specific location of the new plant, which will be in the U.S. Gulf Coast, will be announced in the near future, the Mitsubishi Chemical spokesman told F+L Daily.
Cassel in northeast England is the powerhouse of the company’s EMEA methacrylates business and the largest methyl methacrylate site in the Mitsubishi Chemical Lucite Group.