SEOUL—LG Chem has recently commissioned a nitrile butadiene latex (NBL) production facility in Yongxing, China, to support the increasing demand for nitrile rubber gloves in the region.
The facility manufactures 100,000 metric tons per year of NBL—an oil resistant material with "excellent tensile strength"—and is currently operating at full scale, LG Chem said July 12.
Furthermore, the company said it intended to add 110,000 tons per year of capacity by the first half of next year to meet the growing demand.
The plant is part of LG Chem's triangular production system covering South Korea, China and Malaysia, and targets gloves manufacturing sectors in China and Malaysia.
Last year, the South Korean chemicals supplier launched an expansion project at its facility in Yeosu, South Korea, to increase capacity from 170,000 tons per year to 280,000 tons.
The project is expected to reach full-scale commercial operation in the first half of next year.
Earlier in March, LG Chem established a joint venture with Malaysia's Petronas Chemical Group (PCG), to build a 240,000-ton NBL plant in Pengerang, southern Malaysia.
The $130 million JV, in which LG Chem has secured a 51 percent stake in ownership, is scheduled for commercial production in the first half of 2023.
LG Chem said it is planning to bring its total NBL production capacity to 1 million tons per year through further expansions, securing the No. 1 spot for the supply of the materials to the gloves industry.
"By localizing production at major bases, (we will) ... actively lead the NBL market, which has become a megatrend in the hygiene product field," said Noh Guk-rae, head of the petrochemical business division.
Citing the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association, LG Chem said the demand for nitrile gloves is expected to grow at an average annual rate of more than 19 percent over the next four years.
Consumption it added, is expected to reach 410.9 billion pieces in 2024, valued at $10.5 billion.