BASF Corp. will build a plant in Altam¡ra, Mexico, to produce specialty styrenics for North and South American markets. The plant, which BASF first announced March 15, will have capacity for 300 million pounds per year of Luran S acrylonitrile/styrene/acrylate, Luran sty-rene acrylonitrile and Terluran ABS. Construction should begin by April, with production getting under way in the second half of 1998, the Mount Olive, N.J., firm said in a news release. The plant will supply those regions covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement as well as South America.
BASF chose the site because it can contain costs by making use of infrastructure and materials-handling resources already in place for its existing expandable polystyrene and chemical dispersions operations in Altam¡ra, said spokeswoman Diane Actman. The firm also is building a 315 million-pound-per-year PS plant there, with production slated for next year. Actman said the company had not released the price tag of the latest project.
Currently the NAFTA region makes up only about 5 percent of BASF's $315 million in specialty styrenics sales, she said in a telephone interview.
Reinhard Katz, group vice president of BASF Plastic Materials business, said the United States is the largest market in the NAFTA region, but the molding and extrusion market in Mexico is the fastest growing.
Actman said BASF sees a big opportunity in the extrusion market for products such as boat hulls, camper tops and spa hulls. The company especially hopes to tap coextrusion applications that use ABS as a substrate and Luran S ASA as the outer plastic, she added.