SPMO meeting in Krakow – February 23, 2023

Mar 6, 2023

     On February 23, 2023, another meeting of the members of the Association was held in Krakow. The agenda was as follows:

1. Brief information about the situation in the plants and significant problems related to the current economic situation;

2. “Strategy of sustainable development in the refractory industry. Why refractory manufacturers should adopt the principles of sustainable development and see “Net Zero” as an opportunity” – Marek Cyganik (Sustainable Development Manager, Vesuvius Poland).

3. Current affairs:

• Impact of the energy crisis on the ceramic industry – activities of the Ceramic Union. The position of the Ceramic Union contributed to the extension by the European Commission of the list of industries entitled to grant aid by member states to compensate for the increase in energy prices. The list published on October 28, 2023 also includes the refractory sector. Ceramic Union systematically collects data on the current situation of its members (the survey is also sent to SPMO members). Receiving up-to-date information makes it possible to assess the evolution of support measures adopted at the national level, and at the same time, the Ceramic Union, on the basis of the data received, is able to provide the EU authorities with a representative and up-to-date picture of the ceramic industry.

• REACH – intermediate substances – case status. Work is underway on the ECHA Intermediate Guide, the final proposal of which should be ready by the end of this year. The main difference in the new version of the Guide compared to the current version is that it will introduce the need for strictly controlled conditions in the production and transport of intermediate substances. Until now, this requirement only applied to substances requiring registration by ECHA. The above provision is inconsistent with REACH regulations and the judgment of TE in the so-called acrylamides. It is likely that the intention of the Commission and ECHA will be to change the regulations in the next stage. Lobbying is being carried out to preserve the current status quo of the Guide. The next meeting of industry representatives and supporting organizations on this issue is expected at the end of March.

• As part of the work of the Task Force for International Standards of the World Association of Refractory Materials Manufacturers (WRA), in which the secretary of SPMO J. Czechowski participates, two meetings were recently held: 12/12/22 and 16/02/23, during which the results of inter-laboratory tests of cold compression strength and the results of tests of resistance to CO with the use of a thermobalance were reviewed. A compression strength test report is prepared and the results will be also published in the “Refractories World Forum” and presented at the UNITECR 2023 Congress. A representative of the FGF presented the preliminary results of testing the resistance to CO using a thermobalance. It was agreed to carry out comparative tests at FGF of samples with resistance determined in accordance with the existing standard, which will be provided by Dr. G.Urbanek from RHI Magnesita.

• The President of SPMO reminded about important events concerning the refractory industry in 2023, namely:

– XX International Scientific and Technical Conference entitled “Refractory materials: production, test methods, application” May 24-26, 2023 in Wisła, Jawornik, Hotel Stok. Organizer: Łukasiewicz – Institute of Ceramics and Building Materials in cooperation with the Polish Ceramic Society and the Association of Refractory Materials Producers.

PRE 2023 Congress June 21-23, 2023 in Prague, Czech Republic. Organizer: PRE and the Czech-Slovak Association of Refractories Producers (AČSVŽ). (registration and hotel reservation until May 26, 2023)

UNITECR World Congress 26 – 29 September 2023 in Frankfurt, Germany. Organizer: German Refractory Association (DFFI) and European Center for Refractory Materials (CECREF)

– The date of the SPMO General Meeting was discussed, including the summary of 2022 and the 4-year term of office, and the election of the Management Board.

-This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Association. It was tentatively agreed to hold a two-day members’ meeting in September this year. Details regarding the program and venue of the meeting will be developed and presented by the Management Board at a later date.

4. The “RefraPredict” project under the CORNET initiative – progress

While discussing the progress of the project, it was emphasized that difficulties with the preparation of polluting precursors at the Hochschule Koblenz made it necessary to apply to the National Center for Research and Development for an extension of the project implementation date without changing the inputs. Approval was obtained to postpone the project completion date to March 31, 2023. (Report submission deadline – May 31, 2023). The German side has postponed the project completion date to June 30, 2023. Currently, the work is progressing smoothly. In January, another meeting of project implementers with users took place online.

A meeting with project implementers, including representatives of teams from the German side, is planned during the International Conference in Wisła in May this year.