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At the General Assembly of the World Refractories Association (WRA) in Yokohama, Japan, held on Tuesday, President Stefan Borgas (CEO RHI Magnesita) took stock of his two-year term of office. “We have gained momentum over the last two years, and it is essential to keep going,” Borgas urged. “The refractory industry must finally have the courage to make a turn towards the future. If we keep following a set route, the industry will shrink, consolidate and commoditize. So let’s instead take the path of reorientation. Let’s become our customers’ partners who solve their problems. Let’s be the value drivers of tomorrow.”
The refractory industry is under pressure – a fact that has been known since well before the most recent flattening of the economy. Overall, the ceramic industry is not recording any major growth. In addition, artificial barriers are imposed and are having a negative impact on global trade. And last but not least, the CO2-intensive refractory industry is struggling with converting to sustainable production methods. Borgas on this topic: “Humanity needs to drastically reduce its ecological footprint to survive in the long run, and the refractory industry must contribute its fair share. We have already fulfilled our role as a part of society that creates value in the past. Now we have to expand our responsibility and help stop the climate crisis”.
In his keynote speech Borgas addressed the CEOs of the member organizations, looking back on a successful term of office: Since 2017, the WRA has increased the number of its members from 12 to 22 and has itself become a member of the World Steel Association (WSA). To define the substantive direction of interest to the global refractory industry, the WRA established working groups (Digital Data Standards, HS Codes, International Standards, Environmental Standards, Online Repository of Technological Papers). The organization set new highlights with the topic of innovation, hosting the industry’s first Innovation Conference in China in fall 2018. Moreover, WRA objectives and policies from 2020 onwards and the first Annual Report 2018 were drawn up. Further information on these topics is available on the WRA website.
At the end of the General Assembly, the successor of Stefan Borgas was elected. Carol Jackson, Chairman & CEO of HarbisonWalker International will be the first woman to assume the WRA presidency in January 2020. Borgas wished the new President a fruitful term of office and left her with a request: “Please unlock the full value potential of the refractory industry”.