Merck KGaA has resumed production of its Xirallic paint pigment around two months after the only plant in the world that produces the pigment was crippled by the Japanese earthquake disaster.

Almost all of the world’s major vehicle manufacturers use the Xirallic pigment in their paint, with Australian and global distributors affected to various degrees by the halt to production.

The Xirallic pigment is used to create the metallic/pearl effect in a number of paints and is renowned in the industry for its glitter and shimmer effects.

Following the March 11 earthquake, recovery and repair work on the Onahama factory began on April 4, and was completed ahead of schedule on May 8.

Merck says the plant is currently operating at a reduced output but will return to regular production levels next month.

The company is also establishing a second Xirallic production plant in Germany, which is expected to go online before the end of the year.

Merck head of pigments and cosmetics, Peter Halas, said the second plant would significantly boost the reliability of Xirallic supply from 2012.

“Our top priority is to ensure as soon as possible an uninterrupted supply of Xirallic pigments to our customers around the world,” Mr Halas said.

“The resumption of production in Onahama is a major milestone toward this objective.

“I would like to thank our employees in Japan for their tremendous efforts and express my appreciation for their outstanding engagement.”