Tronox’s vital role in medical manufacturing supply chain

Tronox’s Humber Bank plant is continuing to produce amid the coronavirus pandemic as materials go into equipment used to provide life-saving medical care.

The titanium dioxide manufacturing giant posted robust results on Thursday, with chairman and chief executive Jeffry N Quinn stating it was “well positioned to meet Covid-19 challenges”.

More than 400 people work for the 165,000 tonne capacity unit at Stallingborough – the largest of its type in Europe.

The whitening agent is used in personal protective equipment, plastic and coatings for components of medical devices and equipment – including monitors, housing for ventilators, plastic tubing, and wire coatings for electrical components – as well as plastic and paper packaging that helps prevent contamination of food, medicine, personal care and medical products. It is also a turn-to substance as a colorant and as a coating for shelf-life stability and a protectant for photo-sensitive ingredients.

Site director Andrew Ward told how the US-headquartered company was carefully monitoring the potential impacts of the coronavirus on all global operations, with a pandemic preparedness team “working tirelessly” to ensure that our employees are healthy and that facilities are operating in accordance with the relevant authorities.

Andrew Ward, site director at Tronox, with chairman and chief executive, Jeffry N Quinn, during his site visit last summer.
(Image: Insight Photography Ltd)

“The chemical sector has been identified in the UK Government’s guidance as a key worker sector, which has helped us to ensure we can continue production to be able to serve our customers,” he said. “Some of our products are used in the manufacture of many products needed to support life-saving medical care.

“For these reasons, we are working hard to ensure our site in Stallingborough can continue to operate, to ensure that we can continue to manufacture our products and support our customers, many of whom are making the very products needed to treat people with Covid-19 and other illnesses, whilst also ensuring that our own people are protected as much as possible.”

A top-tier chemical operations site, Mr Ward said the plant was operating at “significantly reduced staffing levels and with stringent controls in place” to ensure the health and safety of employees.

These include wellness checkpoints, visitor and travel restrictions, and remote working where possible.

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