PMB Technology to ramp up Bintulu plant ops

KUCHING: PMB Technology Bhd will raise the production capacity of metallic silicon by 50% per annum with a major investment in its Phase 3 plant project in Samalaju Industrial Park, Bintulu.

The company is investing RM350mil in the construction of the Phase 3 plant, which will have a production capacity of 36,000 tonnes per annum.

The project is expected to be completed by the third quarter 2023, according to PMB Technology.

“With both Phase 1 and Phase 2 up and running now, the group’s combined annual installed capacity is 108,000 tonnes, supplied by a total power of 129 megawatts (MW),” it said in its 2022 annual report.

Subsidiary PMB Silicon Sdn Bhd undertakes the metallic silicon manufacturing operations.

The group embarked on the Phase 3 plant project after it secured additional 25MW of electricity from Syarikat Sesco Bhd on Oct 31, 2022.

PMB Technology, which has Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd as its largest shareholder, ventured into the metallic silicon business five years ago with the construction of the Phase 1 plant, with an installed production capacity of 36,000 tonnes per annum.

The production capacity was doubled to 72,000 tonnes per annum with the completion and commissioning of Phase 2 plant in 2020.

Press Metal is South-East Asia’s largest integrated aluminium smelter, with a smelting capacity of 1.08 million tonnes per annum from its manufacturing facilities in Samalaju Industrial Park and in Mukah.

“The (metallic silicon) plant’s expansion plays an important role in the production by way of cost reduction and increased operational efficiency when it comes to leveraging workforce and raw material management, especially during routine maintenance of the plant,” it said.

In terms of procurement, the group will be able to secure large quantity of raw materials at a lower price to remain competitive in the global market.

“In the longer run, the group is optimistic about achieving a greater economy of scale in production.

“Besides that, the automation of certain production processes is also one of the group’s approaches to sustain this relatively tight labour market,” it added.

PMB Technology is also exploring to expand the metallic silicon business to Sabah with the development and operation of a new plant there.

Towards this goal, the company had in March 2022 entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with state-owned Sabah Oil & Gas Development Corp Sdn Bhd (SOGDC), which is now developing the Sipitang Oil and Gas Industrial Park in Mengalong, Sipitang district.

According to PMB Technology, SOGDC is keen to sub-lease/sell about 200 acres of land to the group, which is keen to consider a prospectively development and operation of a new silicon metal production plant there upon mutually acceptable terms, to be agreed upon between the parties.

It said as both parties are still at the early preliminary discussion stage, they have recently mutually agreed to extend the deadline of the MoU for another 12 months until March 28, 2024.

Silicon metal is used to manufacture steel, solar cells and microchips.

In a review of the global metallic silicon industry in 2022, PMB Technology said it was driven mainly by the growth in demand from the solar sector, as last year was another year of record growth for the new global solar capacity additions, demonstrating the resilience of the renewable energy transition.

However, the demand from the automotive sector in the European Union and United States was softer as automotive output in these markets remained below pre-Covid-19 levels.

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