Perspectives and Forecast Future Salt Demand

Part 2: Synthetic vs. Natural Soda Ash

Capacity Announcements

As of early 2023, a number of new soda ash plants are under construction, announced to be constructed, re-opened, de-bottlenecked, or expanded. Capacity expansions in the 2022- 2027 period will be in the order of 10 million tons. Over 8 million tons of the additional capacity are installed in the form of natural soda ash plants in the US and in China. Only a small part of the capacity is added in the form of synthetic soda ash plants in Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, and in China. In natural soda ash plants, companies mine the mineral trona via traditional underground mining and solution mining, before it is processed on to soda ash. Salt is only used as a raw material in the production of synthetic soda ash.

Expected overall growth of soda ash production

An average annual growth rate of 3% for soda ash would increase the market size from currently 63.5 million tons to about 73.5 million tons by 2027. Only about 1.5 million tons of the overall 10 million tons of additional soda ash require salt for its production.

Expected growth of salt consumption in soda ash production

Salt consumption in the 2022 – 2027 period will grow from today 70 million tons to about 73 million mt by 2027. This corresponds to an average annual growth rate of less than 1%. Natural soda ash plants are favoured because of the lower cost, and lower carbon footprint in the production process. Growth rates of salt are therefore likely to remain below the growth rates of the soda ash industry over the next decades.


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