SQM’s largest iodine plant in Chile operates at 40% after fire

A fire at the Chilean producer SQM's largest iodine plant caused a temporary outage of two of the plant's three iodine production lines, the company confirmed to Fastmarkets.

An incident on the Nueva Victoria plant in the north of Chile occurred on Monday evening, July 19.

After the fire, one out of three production lines continued working, with the plant only able to operate at 40% of nominal capacity, SQM’s spokesperson confirmed to Fastmarkets.

Nueva Victoria’s nominal capacity is 13,000 metric tonnes per year, with a factual output of 8,500 metric tonnes per year, SQM’s annual report for 2020 said.
The fire, which affected two iodide storage ponds, was contained later in the evening and no injuries were reported, SQM’s spokesperson added.

SQM does not know how much time will be needed to fix any damage.

The company operates three iodine plants in Chile: Pedro de Valdivia, María Elena and Nueva Victoria.

60% of the world’s annual iodine production – 30,000 tonnes – comes from the north of Chile, with Nueva Victoria the largest iodine plant in the world, SQM said. 

Fastmarkets’ monthly price assessment for iodine, 99.5% min, contract, delivered US/Europe, cif Asia was flat month on month at $34-37 per kg on June 24, unchanged since June 2020.

In June, iodine market participants expected prices to rise due to shipment difficulties, producers’ bullish mood, and post-pandemic economic recovery.