DuPont will build a new acetal plant in Zhangjiagang, China, as part of a joint venture with Asahi Kasei Corp. of Tokyo.
The plant will employ 60 and have initial annual capacity of 44 million pounds, with capability to be expanded to 132 million pounds. Construction is expected to cost $65 million to $75 million. The plant is to open in early 2004.
According to Dwayne Kearns, Americas business manager for DuPont's Delrin-brand acetal, his firm was drawn to China by the high-single-digit growth rates posted by the country's 220 million-pound-per-year acetal market.
``Acetal growth in China has been pretty diffuse in industrial, consumer and automotive products, much like the market itself,'' Kearns said in a March 27 telephone interview.
``A lot of the growth has come from companies relocating production to China, while some growth has come from internal demand for consumer products,'' Kearns added. ``The primary driver for Chinese investment is cost.''
The Asia-Pacific market consumes about half of the world's acetal in products including videocassette recorders, automotive equipment, appliances and toys. Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont previously supplied the region with acetal compounds from sites in Shenzhen, China; as well as Singapore, Japan and India.
The 50-50 joint venture will handle marketing of the new plant's material within China, while external marketing will be done separately by DuPont or Asahi.
Asahi posted sales of $10 billion last year in plastics, chemicals and fibers. The firm opened an engineering resins compounding site in Suzhou, China, earlier this year and is building a polyphenylene ether plant in Singapore.
DuPont is one of the world's largest makers of engineering resin. The firm trails only Ticona in the global acetal market.