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TCE announces £30m investment in Lostock soda ash plant
In a boost to the Northern Powerhouse and UK manufacturing, Tata Chemicals Europe (TCE) has announced a £30m future-proofing investment at its Lostock soda ash manufacturing site in Northwich, Cheshire.
TCE has been the principal soda ash supply partner to customers in the glass, chemicals and detergent sectors for over 100 years. This investment, which is in addition to an ongoing £7m pa sustenance capital spend, will help to ensure this remains the case for decades to come.
As announced in March 2019, TCE is set to benefit from an agreement with Lostock Sustainable Energy Plant Limited, a joint venture formed by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and FCC Environment Group, which will fund, own, construct, and operate a new £480m energy from waste plant (EFW) on land leased from TCE’s Lostock site. The deal also includes a 25 year contract for TCE to supply the EFW plant with its Briskarb® sodium bicarbonate product, manufactured at the Lostock site, used for flue gas treatment.
This latest future-proofing announcement builds upon this and will see substantial additional improvements in TCE’s soda ash manufacturing facilities, including: a new state-of-the-art 2500m3 per day water treatment plant that will supply treated water to the soda ash process; the installation of new, high voltage electrical substations; new pipe bridges and raw material storage arrangements; new roads, lighting and gate house facilities; and a new central office complex, workshops and plant maintenance facilities that will result in a significant upgrade and improvement in engineering effectiveness.
The multi-million-pound improvements at the Lostock site underline the importance of soda ash production as a key pillar within the robust TCE ecosystem.
Martin Ashcroft, managing director for TCE, said: “As well as providing both light ash and heavy ash to our customers for use in a range of applications, the Lostock soda ash plant is pivotal to the other arms of our business. It provides the raw material for sodium bicarbonate production at both our Winnington and Lostock locations. Around 22% of the light soda ash produced at Lostock is used for sodium bicarbonate production, demand for which is growing globally every year.
“The Lostock plant also ensures a consistent high quality soda ash supply for brine purification at our British Salt business in Middlewich, the biggest salt business in the UK.”
The inter-relation between TCE’s various areas of activity also includes TCE’s energy plant providing low carbon electricity and steam for soda ash and sodium bicarbonate production. TCE has a highly-efficient, dedicated, natural gas-fired Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant to provide all the heat and electrical power required to carry out these operations. As a result, customers can take comfort in the knowledge that the soda ash supplied by TCE has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the industry.
Work has already commenced on the Lostock soda ash plant upgrade and is due to be completed within 18 months.