Alkalis from Patagonia (Alpat), the only company producing sodium carbonate from Southamerica, made the first shipment of soda ash by rail transport from its San Antonio Oeste plant to San Miguel de Tucumán. The lot is destined for the area of “lithium triangle” in northern Argentina and seeks to supply the litters in the area.
The shareholder of Grupo Indalo Fabian de Sousa recognized the achievement “essentially the effort of the Alcalis family, since until not long ago, we were thinking about whether the plant would close, whether the 400 direct workers and the 600 indirect workers had to look for another destination. We had gone through one of the most difficult processes: a persecution process that started in 2016 and that meant the loss of capacity. for not being able to carry out maintenance and investments.
“The effort and unity of the workers and those who carried out the process managerially, together with the unrestricted support of the union representatives, made it possible for us to reorganize the company and today to be in a production scenario to export our goods and services to the world“he added.
De Sousa explained that “the fact of taking economic measures one day and different ones the next makes it difficult to think about Argentina’s industrial future, but Today we have this train and the plant returning to its original production level. What’s more, working on the expansion to increase the volume to 330 thousand tons in a first phase and 500 thousand tons in a second phase. We have a country model that allows us to dream and materialize it in investments, in work, in agreements so that these investments are sustainable and viable.”
Looking ahead to next Sunday’s election, the businessman stated that “We are facing an intelligent society that has matured and that considers that the most important flag is the light blue and white one. and that we all have to have the same possibilities, that they know that there are no first-class or second-class Argentines, that there is no country until General Paz and another after General Paz.”
The training, composed of 10 wagonsstarted this morning from San Antonio Oeste, Río Negro. The transfer of the 250 tons of the product, through unprecedented logistics involved several actors along 2,300 kilometers. The action is consolidated as an unprecedented fact: It is the longest journey ever made by a freight train in national railway history.
This achievement is part of the commercial expansion that is going through Alpat and is in line with the opening towards the lithium market that began to project from the beginning of 2023.
To carry out the work, it was very important synchronization of three railway companies: he Patagonian Train on the journey of San Antonio Oeste to Bahía Blancathe company Ferrosur Rock for the trip Bahía Blanca to Buenos Airesand the Nuevo Central Argentino for the final stretch towards Tucumán.
In view of the new paradigm of electromobility and with the exponential increase in lithium production, Alpat invested US$250 million this year to expand, follow the new demand and export to 5 countries in the region.
Its plant is located in San Antonio Oeste, province of Río Negroat the end of Punta Delgado. Currently, in the company More than 400 people work directly and produce 170 thousand tons of sodium carbonate per year.
Lithium: a market to position yourself
The Indalo Group company is preparing to supply the boom in the lithium industry. Alpat projects that, by 2024, in lithium alone, almost 550 thousand tons of sodium carbonate will be required annually.so the increase in production will help supply the domestic market, generating the country a significant foreign currency savings.
In the last weeks, The company authorities closed a sale transaction of 3,000 tons of soda ash to a Chinese litery company located in Fiambalá, province of Catamarca.
This is a transcendental fact since opens the doors to the world of lithium and allows us to meet some objectives set months ago: he positioning of the national product compared to the imported onethe reaffirmation of the high product quality standardsthe implementation of process nodes in northern Argentina (local job providers) and the diversification of the client portfolio.
What is sodium carbonate?
“Sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash, is a white water-soluble salt and is a raw material used in industrial processes, such as glass, soap powder, paper, perfumery, feed, metallurgy, oil and gas. and other chemicals,” he explained Emilio Castillo, general manager of Alpat, to C5N.
“Currently it is a coveted input because it is used in the lithium market, to precipitate lithium from brine,” he added.
How is sodium carbonate produced?
Sodium carbonate can be obtained in two ways, both naturally from minerals and also synthetically. The natural one is obtained from the mineral “trona”, through mechanical and physical processes that result in a pure crystalline salt.
The synthetic, which is produced in Alpat, is made using two main raw materials, salt and limestone, and is generated through the Solvay ammonia process.
Relationship with the community
In dialogue with C5N.comthe mayor of San Antonio Oeste, Adrian Casadeiexplained that, along with tourism, Alpat is the main hub of the city’s economy.
“Alpat is what allows us to have a stable economy throughout the year. Everything that is produced in the factory has a direct connection with our society,” said the mayor.
He then highlighted that the company, in addition to having more than 400 direct jobs, generates more than 300 indirect jobs. “It is the largest employer we have. Alpat’s salary bill exceeds 100 million pesos. For a society of 35 thousand or 40 thousand inhabitants it is of unavoidable importance. If we did not have Alpat we would not have 35 thousand inhabitants nor would we live the way we do,” Casadei pointed out.
Among the different institutions with which Alpat collaborates is the “El Progreso” dining room, where about 60 children and 20 adults attend every day. “Alpat is always working by our side. It is a very supportive company. In all these years it has collaborated with us with merchandise, clothing, footwear, furniture and beds for people and chairs for the dining room,” he highlighted. Marta Millacheowner of the dining room.