Having a Cristal ball celebrating 65 years

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 24 Jul 2018

CRISTAL’S Stallingborough site director Rob Sarracini has praised the people within the South Bank workforce as they “work very hard on the journey to ‘world class’ to set the site up for the next 65 years”.

The company is in the midst of a drawn-out acquisition process, having agreed a major buy-out deal with US giant Tronox.

Urging the 300-plus team to “get excited about what lies ahead” at a special ceremony, Mr Sarracini said: “What makes Stallingborough truly amazing is each and every one here. Many of you here are not first generation Stallingborough people, many of you have family members who have worked here in years gone by, and even today we have multiple members of the same family working across our site. 

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“I know a lot of you are also very keen to have your children come through and join us here at Cristal in the future and become part of our history, which I think is fantastic – not many workplaces have that.

“Today what we are really celebrating is the fact we have had a great 65 years here at this site, and a lot of us are working very hard on our journey to world class to set the site up for the next 65 years. We must always strive to be better which is what we do here and I know we can get there. We have great respect for our history, however, we also know what we are capable in the future, so let’s enjoy today, celebrate our anniversary and get excited about what lies ahead of us.”

Cristal Global Millenium a Cristal company, Laporte Road, Stallingborough. Picture by Rick Byrne with thanks to The POM Flying Club.

A ceremonial cake marked the milestone on from the first tonne of production, from what was first developed by Laporte back in 1950, with the 160-hectare site chosen due to its close proximity to the deep water – docks at Immingham to allow for easy ore and sulphur imports – while also in plentiful supply for production. Rail access was also key.

It was, however, by no means a straight-forward process to build the plant and added complications came in February 1953. As the factory was close to completion and ready to start production, the East Coast Floods struck, covering the site in a foot of water causing devastation among the building works. The set-back was rectified in a matter of months though, instigating the building of the sea wall which remains in place today as a key defence from the helpful Humber.

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On July 5 1953, the plant fired up its two kilns for production and began making titanium dioxide pigment. Making 5,000 tonnes a year, it didn’t take long for the plant to begin expanding and the site was up to six kilns by 1965.

The Stallingborough area was still relatively remote at this time, with only a single track country lane with soft ground giving access. It was unsuitable for heavy vehicles so not ideal for exporting the finished pigment. Better roadways had been promised, however the area had to wait another 30 years for the A180 to be built, so this delayed any other industrial development in the area. Not being able to wait until then, soon after the factory was completed, Laporte paid for the upgrade of the roadway outside the factory itself.

Cristal celebrate their 65th anniversary with a community day for staff, contractors and their families, at the Stallingborough site.

At the age of 17, in 1970, the plant saw the building of the more environmentally friendly chloride plant which was initially developed to run alongside the sulphur plant with a capacity of 30,000 metric tonnes a year. In 1984 Laporte sold the site to SCM Chemicals, at which point the site was considerably expanded using improved technology. Over the years since then, the site has continued to grow and has been through a number of different ownerships including Lyondell, Millennium Chemicals, before becoming part of the Cristal group in 2007.

Today the plant has the nameplate capacity of 165,000 metric tonnes a year, is part of one of the world’s largest producers of titanium dioxide and Stallingborough remains the largest chloride-process titanium dioxide producer in Europe.

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