KUCHING: OM Materials (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd (OM Sarawak) will produce a wide range of silicon and manganese alloys at its smelting plant in Samalaju Industrial Park, Bintulu by June 2017 to cater to steel producers making different types of products and applications, according to Australian company OM Holdings Ltd (OMH).
OMH has a 75% stake in the the joint venture firm OM Sarawak while Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd (CMS) has a 25% stake.
The plant has successfully completed the hot commissioning of its second modified furnace in mid-January, with the first tap of high carbon ferromanganese.
This followed closely behind the tapping of siliconmanaganese at its first modified furnance a month earlier.
This development, said OMH in the latest update on the smelting plant, marked an important milestone for OM Sarawak and the group as a whole.
“With two modified furnance currently in production, and the current on-going work to modify another four furnaces to produce manganese alloys, OM Sarawak will produce a wide range of silicon and manganese alloys by first half of 2017,” it added.
OMH said the plant was on track to convert its furnaces to produce special manganese alloys, like low carbon and high grade siliconmanganese.
“Production of refined ferrosilicon, such as low aluminium ferrosilicon and low calcium ferrosilicon by the first quarter of 2017 will further expand the range of alloys offered by OM Sarawak.
“OMH is studying the market for metallic silicon, which is used in the aluminium and polymer industries, among others. It is also studying the market for medium carbon and low carbon ferromanganese which are used in the production of higher grade steel,” it added.
OM Sarawak, which has been producing commercial ferrosilicon alloys since September 2014, had earlier told Australian Securities Exchange that the Samalaju plant would bring potential total managanese alloy production to 200-250 kilopton per annum when the six modified furnaces are in operation by June this year.
OMH attributed the operational development at the Samalaju smelting plant to the group’s strong in-house engineering capabilities, which enables it to respond and adopt to improve managanese alloy fundamentals by modifying the furnaces for a different production mix in a short span of time.
The OM Sarawak plant is one of the three ferro and manganese alloys producers in Samalaju Industrial Park.
Phase one facility consists of eight main workshops housing 16 units of 25.5MVA furnaces.
The two other producers are Sakura Ferroalloys Sdn Bhd and Pertama Ferroalloys Sdn Bhd. Sakura Ferroalloys is a tripartiate joint venture among South Africa’s Assmang Ptd Ltd, Japan’s Sumitomo Corp and Taiwan’s China Steel Corp.
Pertama Ferroalloys’ joint owners are Hong Kong-based Asia Minerals Ltd, Japan’s Nippon Denka, Malaysia’s Carbon Capital Sdn Bhd and Japanese trading house Shinko Shoji.
Last Wednesday, Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg opened the Sakura Ferroalloys manufacturing facilities.
Sakura Ferroalloys is a greenfield project, which consists of two 81MVA furnaces that manufacture high carbon ferro-manganese and silicon manganese.
Each furnace is designed to produce the two products.
The smelting plant is designed to produce 110,000 tonnes per annum of ferromanganese and 72,000 tonnes per annum of silicon manganese.
Ferromanganese and ferroalloys are essential ingredients in the production of various types of carbon, alloy steel and alloy iron. They are also used widely for the de-oxidation, de-sulphurisation and refinning of steel.
According to Assmang deputy chairman Jan Steenkamp, the Sakura smelter had the highest standard of safety and environmental protection.
He said the plant was designed to specifically incorporate several environmental considerations into its production process so as to lower the impact on the surrounding area and achieve resource optimisation.