At a time when economic pressures call for stronger networks, the refractory industry is embracing increased global cooperation.
To this end, and following successful international meetings in September 2013 and April 2014, the major refractory industry associations and multinational companies joined together in November 2014 to set up the World Refractories Association (WRA).
Refractory products are vital elements in all high-temperature processes, notably in the production of steel, cement, petrochemical processes, glass and ceramics.
The WRA constitutes a forum to debate regulatory issues affecting global trade, circulate aggregated industry statistics, promote the interests of the worldwide refractory industry, and act as a counterpart to other world industry organisations such as the World Steel Association.
The newly formed WRA is composed of continental associations including Europe (PRE), Latin America (ALAFAR) and North America (TRI) as well as national associations from China (ACRI), India (IRMA) and Japan (JRA). Multinational companies Magnesita Refratários S.A., Refratechnik, RHI A.G. and Vesuvius plc are also direct members.
François Wanecq, Chief Executive of Vesuvius plc and President of PRE, has been elected the inaugural President of the World Refractories Association.
François Wanecq joined Vesuvius in 2005. He was previously Chief Executive of ArjoWiggins from 1996 to 2004, and Head of the Technical Ceramics division at Saint-Gobain from 1985 to 1995. He graduated at École Polytechnique and École des Mines in Paris.
Coinciding with the UNITECR 2015 congress on refractories, the World Refractories Association (WRA) held a General Assembly on 14 September 2015 in Vienna, Austria. Representatives from continental and national refractories associations and multi-national companies met to discuss global trends and future developments.
Mr François Wanecq, CEO of Vesuvius and President of the WRA, welcomed members from ALAFAR (Latin America), ACRI (China), IRMA (India), JRA (Japan), TRI (USA) and from multinational companies (Vesuvius, RHI, Calderys, Magnesita, Refratechnik). Each association shared the key developments at regional level. Representing the European ceramic industry - including refractories sector PRE - Mr Renaud Batier presented global statistics and the progress made regarding the revision of the refractory “HS” customs codes. Guest speaker Dr Wolfgang Eder, President of the World Steel Association, highlighted the need for a fair and equal framework for trade and sourcing. Moreover, he recommended that Europe propose consistent initiatives to sustainably improve economic growth perspectives to avoid further de-industrialisation.
The next WRA General Assembly is scheduled for 2017.
The next WRA Board meeting will take place on Thursday 28 April 2016 in London, UK. For further information please contact the WRA Secretariat.