Refractory products are a vital element in all high-temperature processes, such as metals making, the production of cement, petrochemical processes, glass and ceramics. Without refractories there would be no cars, no planes, no trains, no gas or electricity and we would be eating from wooden plates and living in mud-brick huts.
PRE, the European Refractories Producers Federation, is the representative organisation of the European refractory industry, located in Brussels. It was founded in 1953 and offers a European platform on which its members can exchange views and experiences of common interest.
PRE has no commercial aim. In the scope of EU legislation and standardisation, our mission is to promote the interests of European Refractory Producers. The activities of the federation are aimed at achieving these purposes through working with the European institutions (European Commission, European Parliament and the Council), and a wide range of stakeholders such as the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), the confederation of European businesses (BUSINESSEUROPE) and other EU associations such as Eurofer (steel industry), CEMBUREAU (cement industry), CEFIC (chemical industry), IMA-Europe (industrial minerals), Euromines (European mining industry), etc.
PRE is a member of Cerame-Unie, representing the European ceramics industry. Through Cerame-Unie the interests and concerns common to the whole of the ceramics industry are communicated to the European institutions.
- Cerame-Unie: the European Ceramic Industry Association
- WRA: World Refractories Association
- FIRE: Federation for international refractory research and education
- UNITECR: Unified International Technical Conference on Refractories
- International Colloquium on Refractories: Annual conference organised by ECREF
- CEN TC 187: Technical Committee on Refractory Products and Materials
- ISO TC 33: Technical Committee on Refractories
- Refractories Worldforum: Magazine on the refractories industry
- ReStaR project: EU funded project improving testing standards for refractories
REACH & CLP
The REACH Regulation lays down the rules for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemical substances in the EU. It entered into force in June 2007 with a first registration deadline by 1 December 2010. General information on REACH and the ceramic industry can be found on the Cerame-Unie REACH webpage.
In early 2007, PRE set up a REACH Working Group (WG) in order to assist refractory companies with the implementation of the REACH Regulation. Regular meetings were held in Brussels and detailed discussions took place to develop a common understanding and to improve the communication throughout the supply chain. In 2008, PRE co-financed an online substance inventory database for refractory substances in which almost 50 companies participated. In 2009 and 2010, discussions focused on the registration dossiers and exposure scenarios and PRE developed a generic use description for the refractory industry. The PRE REACH WG also tackles REACH related legislation such as the Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation.
The Technical Implications of REACH in the refractories industry were presented in Madrid at the REACH Seminar, organised in conjunction with the 50th annual congress of the Spanish Ceramic and Glass society on 26 October 2010.
(Zirconia) Aluminosilicate Refractory Ceramic Fibres (RCF)
In August 2009, it was proposed that certain types of RCF be added to the REACH Candidate list of Substances of Very High Concern. In August 2011, two additional types of RCF were proposed. On both occasions PRE submitted detailed comments during the public consultation. For the reasons expressed in the Facts and Consequences document, PRE is of the firm opinion that RCF should not be prioritised for authorisation.
On 24 June 2013 ECHA published its fifth draft recommendation for inclusion of substances in Annex XIV, including RCF. Further information can be obtained from the PRE secretariat or on the website of ECFIA, representing the High Temperature Insulation Wool industry.
A joint industry position paper explaining why a REACH authorisation is not the appropriate way forward for RCF can be found here (in English, French and German).
Classification and labelling of silica monolithics
The CLP Regulation (EC 1272/2008) on classification, labelling and packaging, entered into force on 20 January 2009. It replaces the Dangerous Substances Directive (67/548/EEC) and the Dangerous Preparations Directive (1999/45/EC). It introduces new classification criteria, hazard symbols and labelling phrases.
A series of meetings on Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) and internal and external measurements of the level of RCS in the range of products have been organised in 2010-2011 by a number of PRE member companies. These measurements resulted in the classification and labelling as Stot RE 2 (Specific Target Organ Toxicity - Repeated Exposure, Category 2).
Classification and labelling changes for mixtures need to be introduced no later than 1 June 2015. Some companies may voluntarily choose to introduce these changes earlier if they wish. Further information can be found in the first PRE position paper (2012) focusing on silica monolithics and the second PRE position paper (2015) focusing on all refractory monolithics.
critical for the refractory industry
The European refractories industry is vital for European industry as a whole, but is heavily dependent on imports of refractory industrial minerals. The supply situation for the European refractory industry is particularly critical for high grade magnesia, bauxite and graphite which are mainly sourced from China due its vast raw material reserves.
PRE has therefore followed with great interest the work of the European Commission ad-hoc group mandated to define a list of critical raw materials. This action was the first of ten action points identified under the European Commission's Raw Material Initiative. The first criticality report, published in June 2010, identifies 14 raw materials as critical, including graphite, taking into account their supply risk and economic importance. Magnesite and bauxite are identified as potentially critical. Annex V of the report includes detailed qualitative information on all assessed raw materials. A 2013 criticality report confirms 13 of the 14 raw materials identified in 2010 (tantalum is excluded due to a lower supply risk) and adds six new materials: borates, chromium, coking coal, magnesite, phosphate rock and silicon metal.
Further information can be found in the PRE document entitled Refractory Ceramics and Industrial Minerals are Critical for European Industry (2009).
General information on the raw materials initiative can be found on the Cerame-Unie raw materials webpage.
WTO dispute settlement Panel
China applies a range of export restrictions on raw materials such as export duties, export quota and non-automatic export licensing. PRE and Cerame-Unie strongly support the WTO Panel proceedings on Chinese export restrictions on raw materials as requested by the EU (and by the US and Mexico) on 9 November 2009. An overview of the case can be found here.
The Panel report was circulated on 5 July 2011. The WTO Panel found that China's export restrictions were not justified on environmental grounds and should be removed. China informed the WTO Dispute Settlement Body of its intentions to implement the recommendations and rulings within a reasonable period of time.
PRE unites national associations from 16 European countries and direct members from four multinational companies - Calderys, Magnesita, Refratechnik and Vesuvius.
FACHVERBAND BERGBAU STAHL
Wiedner Hauptstrasse 63
A - 1045 WIEN
Mr R. STIFTNER
Tel. +43 5 90 900 3310
Fax +43 5 90 900 3378
FACHVERBAND DER STEIN- UND KERAMISCHEN
Wiedner Hauptstrasse 63
A - 1045 WIEN
Mr A. PFEILER
Tel. +43 5 90 900 3531
Fax +43 1 5056240
SYNDICAT NATIONAL DES INDUSTRIES
FRANCAISES DE PRODUITS REFRACTAIRES, SNIFPR
2 bis Rue Michelet
F - 92130 ISSY-LES-MOULINEAUX
Ms A. HALPHEN
Tel. +33 1 58 18 30 40
Fax +33 1 42 66 09 00
spain - Portugal
czech republic- Slovakia
ASSOCIATION OF THE CZECH AND SLOVAK REFRACTORIES PRODUCERS, AČSVŽ
CZ—739 65 Ténec-Konská
Mr R. GAŽÚR
Tel. +421 58 482 2323
sweden - denmark - finland - norway
PRE NORDIC GROUP
Mr A. HAUTAMÄKI
Tel. +358 40 911 6079
slovenia - CROATIA
GOSPODARSKO INTERESNO ZDRUZENJE PROIZVAJALCEV OGNJEVZDRZNE KERAMIKE, ZPOK g.i.z.
SL - 6215 DIVACA
Mr E. ZOBEC
Tel. +386 5 739 5760
Fax +386 5 763 0235
Annual statistics on workforce, production and sales in the refractory industry in Europe are compiled by the PRE secretariat, with the help of the National Associations, and are presented at the PRE General Assembly. These statistics provide information for the different product groups on an aggregated country level and are available for members only. The European aggregated figures are shown below.
European Ceramic Days 2018 in Brussels, Belgium (more information)
2018 CERAMITEC (www.ceramitec.de)
6-8 June | 2018 PRE Congress in Enghien-Les-Bains, France
20 June | 2018 REACH – CLP – Occupational Safety, 20 June (download flyer)
ECerS 2017: 15th Conference and Exhibition of the European Ceramic Society
2017 PRE Congress in Chester, UK (article)
8-10 June | 2016 PRE Congress in Krakow, Poland (more information)
2015 Ceramic Days & 16th European Parliament Ceramics Forum (press release)
2015 Ceramitec (www.ceramitec.de)
2015 UNITECR (www.unitecr2015.org)
2015 World Refractories Association General Assembly (www.worldrefractories.org)
2015 PRE/ECREF 2nd Common European Seminar on Refractories (article)
2015 PRE Congress in Istanbul, Turkey (article)
2014 PRE Congress in Portoroz, Slovenia (article)