OM Holdings eyes capacity expansion

KUCHING: OM Holdings Ltd (OMH) is planning for a capital expenditure (capex) of A$120mil (RM373mil) to expand its manganese alloys production capacity for future growth.

The capacity expansion project planned for 2023 will add an additional 50% or 150,000 tonnes per annum of manganese alloys from currently 300,000 tonnes per annum.

The project’s capex funding will be from 2022,with manganese capacity expansion of two 33MVA-furnaces for improved efficiency, OMH said, outlining its future plans and growth at a virtual analyst briefing.

The planned expansion is expected to yield additional 150,000 tonnes per annum of siliconmanganese (SiMn).

OMH, which is dual listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and Bursa Malaysia, said manganese smelting is expected to generate highest average returns over the full price cycle, and improve hedging ratio with ore.

As a vertically integrated manganese ore and ferroalloy company, OMH operates the lowest cost quartile smelter complex in Samalaju Industrial Park in Bintulu, the largest of its kind in Asia.

OMH has a 75%-stake in OM Materials (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd (OM Sarawak),with joint venture partner Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd owning the remaining 25% equity interest.

The smelting plant is powered by hydro power from a 20-year power purchase agreement with Sarawak Energy Bhd.

OM Sarawak’s smelting plant has a design capacity to produce between 200,000 to 210,000 tonnes per annum of ferrosilicon (FeSi) and between 250,000 to 300,000 tonnes of manganese alloys per annum.

“By end September 2021, 12 out of 16 furnaces were in operation at the Sarawak smelter plant (6FeSi, 6SiMn),” said OMH, adding that OM Sarawak is working towards full operations of the plant.

“The plan is to convert two FeSi furnaces to produce SiMn and to restart two other FeSi when feasible, pending the availability of foreign contractor and foreign skilled manpower. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sarawak has currently restricted the entry of foreign workforce.

The Sarawak plant also consists of a sinter plant which has a design capacity to produce 250,000 tonnes of sinter ore per annum.

Currently, sinter ore production is approaching designed capacity, pending final on-site performance testing.

Besides manganese capacity expansion, OMH also plans on further product mix diversification from venture into silicon metal.

With a planned capex of A$30mil (RM93mil), the conversion of FeSi to metallic silicon will produce higher vale-added products. OMH is also planning to diversify into aluminium, chemicals and solar downstream industries.

In its ferrosilicon market review, OMH said the international price of FeSi has recorded unprecedented increase in recent months.

“The recent surge in global prices is due in part to government policies in China relating to the on-going power shortages, with power rationing being imposed on energy-intensive industries, thus limiting ferroalloy production and causing Chinese ferroalloy futures to surge to historical highs.

“These factors, in conjunction with record high ocean freight rates and uncertainty in global ferroalloy production, have substantially supported prices for FeSi for the better part of 2021,” it added.

On April 28,2021, China raised the export tax for FeSi from 20% to 25% to discourage power intensive industries, and the move is expected to provide renewed price support, according to the company.

In the first half of 2021, S&P Global Platts reported that the price of FeSi shipped CIF Japan was US$1,582 (RM6,565) per tonne, and it closed at US$1,920 (RM7.968) per tonne CIF Japan at end-June. S&P Global Platts has subsequently reported a significant increase in FeSi prices, closing at US$4,150 (RM17,222) per tonne (plus 116%) CIF Japan as at Sept 29.

“It is important to note that the financial impact to OMH of the recent price changes will continue to be modulated by the forward delivery nature of ferroalloy sales, where newly contracted prices will be reflected in OMH’s financial results with a lag of several months, subject to previously committed sales.“The company sells the ferroalloys it produces using a blend of formula (index based) and fixed price contracts,” said OMH.

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