The following news items were gathered by Plastics News correspondent Joann McKinlay at Plast-Imagen '97, held Sept. 9-12 in Mexico City.
BASF starts operating PS plant in Altamira
BASF Mexicana SA de CV began operating a new polystyrene plant last week in its petrochemical complex in Altamira, Mexico.
The $50 million plant has annual production capacity of 315.3 million pounds for crystal PS, said Anthony C. Bernardo, marketing manager of engineering plastics and styrene copolymers.
The facility employs 70 and will produce general-purpose and heat-resistant PS marketed as Polystyrol.
Bernardo added that construction is on schedule for the company's specialty styrenics plant in Altamira. The facility should be in production next year, with capacity to manufacture 286 million pounds per year of Terluran ABS, Luran acrylic styrene acrylonitrile, and Luran styrene acrylonitrile.
Bayer production highest in Mexico
About 60 percent of Bayer's pigment and resin production is done in Mexico, according to Knut Balzer, director of Bayer de Mexico SA de CV's inorganic, organic and specialty products division.
Bayer's Mexican plants make general-purpose products, as well as high and low density polyethylene, he said. Germany produces 20 percent, which are mostly specialty resins, and the United States another 20 percent, which are high-performance pigments, such as those formulated for automotive paints.
The company hopes to expand its line of pigments next year in Mexico, and add staff for quality control and technical support, he said.
DuPont says pigment sees strong growth
DuPont SA de CV was promoting its white pigment Ti-Pure at the show.
``The market for this product grew 30 percent from 1995-1996,'' said Jorge Davila, Ti-Pure sales supervisor. ``For 1997, we expect another 18 percent growth, followed by a 10 percent growth, although this may vary on the arrival of new customers in Mexico.''
The pigment, based on titanium dioxide, is used in a dispersion as a whitener for plastics.
DuPont has a technical service center in Mexico City, and the white pigment plant in Altamira has been ISO-9002 certified since 1992. DuPont has 10 plants in Mexico. In 1996, sales in Mexico were $938 million, and exports were $270 million.
Petroquimica Escolin awaits privatization
Petroquimica Escolin SA de CV in Poza Rica, Mexico, apparently is not concerned about the upcoming privatization of 49 percent of its assets.
``The change in administration is a separate issue,'' said its sales representative, Mario Palacios, adding that the company's goal is to become more efficient and deliver its products more quickly. The state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) will keep the other 51 percent.
The low density PE plant is being modified to improve process control, and the administration is checking with current suppliers to see if modernization is necessary for the high density PE plant, he said.
Seven of the 10 plants up for sale were given fiscal autonomy in July and August.
``Billing has become easier now,'' Palacios said, although he admitted that local media reports of double-billing were true when the plant first began operating independently.
Currently, Pemex's international division gathers all excess production together and then exports, but later the plants will be able to export directly, Palacios said.
Wentworth Mould and Die Co. Ltd. of Hamilton, Ontario, is negotiating to manufacture molds for one of Mexico's largest soft-drink bottle makers. Charles Carey, vice president of sales, said the company has had customers in Mexico for five years, and recently hired a representative for Latin America, Joseph M. Torre, based out of Hamilton.
Ampacet International Corp. of Tarrytown, N.Y., a producer of color and additive concentrates for the plastics industry, said it is reconsidering plans for a Mexican plant. All of Latin America is being studied, after Mexico's economic crisis put a halt to plans there, said Michael Friedrich, Ampacet export manager.
Ciba Especialidades Quimicas has invested about $7.5 million this year in various projects to improve products and organize divisions, according to Alfredo Becker, head of Ciba's Latin American division.