Cinkarna mulling production plant in Serbia
The company has the green light from the supervisory board and will now conduct a location survey and a feasibility study, according to Benčina, who labelled the decision a historical move for the company.
Benčina said the company was limited at its current location. "Extensive expansion of titanium dioxide production is only possible outside Celje. I cannot imagine getting a permit for another production line in Celje."
Cinkarna is infamous in Celje for its effect on the environment and the current location is badly polluted, though this is mostly the result of past activities of the company, which was founded in 1873 as a zinc smelter.
Indeed, Benčina said such plants could not be built anywhere in the EU because of stringent environmental standards. "There has not been a new titanium dioxide plant in Europe in decades, all that has been done has been the expansion of production at existing locations."
While plans have been closing down in Europe, they have been opening in China and Mexico.
By its own accounts, Cinkarna is the smallest manufacturer of titanium dioxide in Europe, accounting for 4-5% of European output and a percent of global output of the pigment.
The company posted EUR 143.6m in sales revenues in the first three-quarters of the year, which is 9% more year-on-year, while net profit almost tripled to EUR 25.5m. Full-year figures will be available in March.
Benčina said the plan for 2018 was a net profit of around EUR 30m on sales of just under EUR 200m.