The Slovenia Times

Melamin recovers after deadly 2022 accident

Melamin factory in Kočevje before the 2022 fire. Photo: Aleš Kocjan/STA

The Kočevje chemical company Melamin returned to profit in 2023 after posting its first loss in decades the year before largely owing a deadly explosion in May 2022. The company has restored the bulk of its production capacities.

The company reported nearly €1.1 million in profit for 2023, bouncing back from a €1.8 million loss in 2022. Sales revenue was nevertheless down 24% to €45.4 million.

Melamin said its business was affected by the war in Ukraine, the situation in the Middle East and cargo transport difficulties. Prices of key raw materials also had a significant impact.

The plant was the site of Slovenia's deadliest industrial disaster in May 2022 when a chemical substance pumped into the wrong tank from a truck caused a massive explosion. Seven people died and several more were injured.

Police have filed criminal charges against four individuals and one legal entity for endangering safety at work and causing general danger. Melamin CEO Srečko Štefanič is believed to be one of those charged.

The blast also damaged production facilities, which the company has been working to restore. By the end of 2023 it was able to return to about 70% of pre-explosion capacity..

The company is planning to move part of production to a different location and has performed a preliminary study, the results of which will be presented this year.

It is likely that changes to the national spatial plan will be required for the new facilities, which will demand additional effort, time and the support of the state and municipality, the company said.

Melamin expects to restore 80% of its production capacities by the end of this year. In the next two years it aims to restore the remaining 20% by launching the production of environmentally-friendly resins to make up for the lost production of epichlorohydrin resins.

By the end of the year, the company expects to launch production of highly resistant melamine fleece. Additional investments will be needed to optimise production so it could significantly contribute to the company's results in the coming years.


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