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Caustic soda

Overview

Caustic soda is an inorganic chemical with composition of 50% w/w sodium hydroxide in solution.

It is used in chemical manufacturing to produce a broad range of other inorganic chemicals and in general manufacturing, mineral processing and water treatment.

Market

The main market for caustic soda is the production of alumina at 1,200,000 tonnes per year.

Other markets for caustic soda include: the chlorination (sterilisation) of domestic water and waste, the production of other domestic market products at 145,000 tonnes per year, and; the production of sodium cyanide at 90,000 tonnes per year.

Trade

Price of caustic soda has been very volatile ranging from about US$30 per tonne (FOB) to ten-times higher at US$300 per tonne as during the late 1980s. Freight costs to Australia are typically US$40 per tonne resulting in a landed price as low as A$100 per tonne. Market prices are countercyclical to that of its co-product chlorine and chlorine derivatives. 

Imports

Imports were 1,200,000 tonnes in tba.

Exports

Exports were 0 tonnes in 2019.

Production

Production was 250,000 tonnes in tba.

Process

It is produced via the electrolysis of brine. This process produces chlorine as its key-product and caustic soda as its by-product.

It is also produced via the reaction of natural deposits of soda ash with lime.

Raw Materials

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