Pigments from Leuna Make Life More Colourful in Many Parts of the World
“We supply more than 500 customers,” says Managing Director Olaf Lehmann, who studied in nearby Merseburg and has been on-board since plant was launched. The business is doing so well that by the close of 2013 a second product line will be put into operation and a new depot built. These improvements would result in a doubling of production capacity, the company announced in April. “Currently, several 10,000 tonnes leave the plant each year”, reports pigment specialist Lehman.
According to his information, the investment will amount to a sum in the low double-digit millions. The number of staff is supposed to increase from 22 at present to over 30. Subsidies from the state, the federal Government and the European Union support the production expansion. They have become necessary as the business is currently rapidly expanding. The FP-Pigments Ltd. is a subsidiary of the FP-Pigments Oy which was founded in 1966 in Espoo, near the Finnish capital Helsinki. The founding family emerged from the pigment industry. Within a year, they had built a pilot plant using machines which had been designed and constructed specifically for this project. 2009 saw the creation of the production site in Leuna. For the current year, revenues of around €100m are expected from the whole FP group. This is a notable increase of 40 per cent compared with the previous year and there is no end in sight for the fast growing business. The pigments from Leuna are just as sought after in Germany as they are in other European countries and are exported overseas as well. The enterprise considers South America an important growth market. Demand, it is said, is also increasing in Asia and Africa. Experts assume that the worldwide sales volume for the sector as a whole will increase to $27.5bn by 2018. The Finns are confident that they can secure a sizeable chunk of this market for themselves. Their optimism seems justified, having spent years developing and cultivating a more favourable pigment production method which in the meantime has been patented. Not only does this method lead to enormous performance advantages but its use for paints and coatings is also significantly more cost-efficient. Furthermore, a way has also been found to partially or completely replace the expensive titanium oxide normally used in the process without any loss of opacity. One of the substitute materials – carbon dioxide – is provided by the Linde concern which happens to be located right next door.
FP-Pigments Ltd. also profits from the good infrastructure conditions in Leuna, from which raw materials, energy and services are all drawn. This is another reason why InfraLeuna Service Company feels confirmed in its expansion plans for FP-Pigments Ltd. Said InfraLeuna managing director Christof Günther regarding the decision made by the Finnish enterprise: “I am pleased about the expansion investment of FP-Pigments Ltd. at the highly modern Leuna Chemistry Park. The successful development of the enterprise and the choice of location make clear that Leuna offers an excellent technical and economic framework and that the companies which reside there profit greatly from the synergies that the cluster promotes.
These attractive location conditions were central to the decision made five years ago to build the pigment factory in Leuna after other locations in Europe had been tested thoroughly. In the meantime, the family-run Scandinavian company has gone on to build an additional production centre in the United States, Lehmann reports. Of course, production at the site takes place in accordance with the Leuna model.