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Min Eng 1985 May; 37(5):473
US iodine apparent consumption decreased 6% in 1984 to about 3.5 kt (3800 st), valued at $38 million. Three US companies had nameplate capacity to supply about 37% of domestic demand. Iodine remained a government stockpiled commodity, and a small part of the excess was sold during the year. US Developments: Woodward Iodine Operations, a joint venture between PPG Industries Inc. (51%) and Amoco Production Inc. (49%), was sold to Asahi Glass Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, Japan, on July 12, 1984. The name was changed to Woodward Iodine Corp. Woodward produces crude iodine from underground brines associated with byproduct natural gas at a plant in Woodward, OK. Nameplate capacity of the facility is 900 t/a (1000 stpy). The Dow Chemical Co. announced plans to phase out its brine products business at Midland, MI, in the next two years and consolidate brine production at its Ludington, MI, and Magnolia, AR, facilities. Iodine occurs in significant quantities only at Midland. Therefore, production of iodine was not expected to continue after 1984. Nameplate iodine capacity at the facility is 227 t/a (250 stpy). Dow's Midland operations produced bromine, bromine compounds, magnesium compounds, calcium chloride, and iodine. North American Brine Resources operated two miniplants at Dover and Hennessey in Kingfisher County, OK. A third plant was not in production due to lack of brines. The plants, located at oilfield brine reinjection disposal sites, recovered iodine before the brine was reinjected into the ground. North American is a joint venture among Beard Oil Co. (40%); Godoe USA Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of United Resources Industry Co., (50%); and Inorgchem Development Inc. (10%), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mitsui & Co. (US). Nameplate capacity of the three plants was 159 t/a (175 stpy). Stockpile and Imports: Iodine is a strategic material in the US National Defense Stockpile. During 1984, the General Services Administration (GSA) sold 63 t (69.5 st) of crude iodine from stockpile excesses. The stockpile goal remained at 2.6 kt (2900 st). Of the 3.4-kt (3700-st) inventory at year-end, none was authorized for disposal. The defense authorization legislation, debated in Congress, inadvertently failed to include iodine under the 1985 disposal authorization bill. The GSA suspended bids in October pending outcome of the legislation. Iodine imports decreased during 1984 to about 2.5 kt (2750 st). An average value of $10.54/kg ($4.78 per lb) was the lowest value since 1980. Japan (74%) and Chile (22%) were the major sources of US imports. These two countries supplied about 70% of US demand. It is difficult to establish an accurate pattern of demand by market. This is because iodine frequently is converted to intermediate compounds and marketed as such before reaching its ultimate end use. Major iodine uses included pharmaceuticals, animal feed supplements, catalysts, stabilizers, inks and colorants, photographic supplies, and disinfectants. Foreign Developments: World iodine production for 1984 was estimated at 13.2 kt (14,550 st), including nameplate capacity in the US. World producers and their relative production included Japan (52%), Chile (20%), the USSR (15%), the US (10%), and China (3%). In Japan, the world's largest iodine producing country, six companies operated 17 plants. Total production capacity was 9 kt/a (10,000 stpy). All production was from subsurface brines, recovered as a byproduct of natural gas production. The Kanto Gasfield of Chiba, Tokyo, and Kanagawa Prefectures were the major source of the brine. In Chile, crude iodine was produced at two mines, Pedro de Valdivia and Maria Elena, both operated by Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile. Production was a coproduct of caliche nitrate production. Production decreased last year because of unusual weather conditions in the Atacama Desert. It is expected to increase significantly during 1985. Outlook: The new Japanese owner of Woodward is expected to increase production at the facility. Technology improvements are expected to offset production losses from the closure of the facility of the second largest domestic producer. Demand for iodine was projected to increase from the 3 kt (3450 st) 1982 base at an average annual 0.5% rate through 1990. It is estimated that in 1985, US apparent consumption will be 3.4 kt (3800 st). Prices of crude iodine began to rise during the last quarter of 1984 and were expected to increase during 1985 .
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Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division