KUCHING: South Korea-based OCI Co Ltd is set to invest in an electronic-grade polysilicon (EG Poly-Si) semi-finished product plant project in Sarawak via a joint-venture (JV) with Japan’s Tokuyama Corp.
The JV is expected to be established in the first half of 2024 (1H24) and the new 11,000-tonne plant is scheduled to be completed and commence production in 1H26, said OCI in an investors’ relation report on new investments and business updates when releasing its second quarter ended June 30, 2023 (2Q23) financial results.
Poly-Si is used as the raw material for the solar photovoltaic (PV) and electronic industry. OCI, via subsidiary OCIM Sdn Bhd, took over the Poly-Si plants in Samalaju Industrial Park, Bintulu from Tokuyama in 2017.
Tokuyama was reported to have invested about US$1.99bil in two plants to produce semiconductors and solar grade Poly-Si. Following the takeover, OCIM spent about US$111.7mil to revamp the plants in two phases back in 2018 and 2019 to raise the plant’s annual production capacity by 10,000 tonnes to 27,000 tonnes.
The Sarawak plant was later further upgraded and currently produces 30,000 tonnes of Poly-Si for the global market and this equates to 10 gigawatt (GW) of solar power generation.
OCI, a global leading chemical and advanced material company, plans to invest an additional RM2.8bil to expand its production in Samalaju Industrial Park, said Sarawak deputy premier and International Trade, Industry and Investment Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.
Awang Tengah was briefed on OCI’s expansion plans in Sarawak during his meeting with OCI Holdings chairman Lee Woo Hyun in Seoul during his official visit to South Korea last Thursday.
He also conducted a tour of OCI Research and Development Centre, which delves into the next generation development for the energy sector.
OCIM had invested over RM8bil to produce Poly-Si for the solar industry, said Awang Tengah.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Energy Bhd group chief operating officer James Ung, who was part of Awang Tengah’s delegation, handed over an assurance letter to OCIM president Choi Sung Gil on electricity to be allocated in stages to the company’s new expansion project.
“Besides this, OCI and Kumho Petro Chemical Group have partnered in a RM1.7bil project to produce epichlorohydrin (ECH) through hydroelectric power with bio-glycerin and natural salts (in Samalaju Industrial Park),” said Awang Tengah in a statement issued here recently.
ECH is a compound mainly used to produce epoxy resins. Its main applications serve the clean energy market, such as wind, solar, tidal and electricity transmission, providing corrosion protection coatings. ECH is also used in the industrial, automotive and packaging industries and as composites in the aerospace industry.
According to Malaysian Investment Development Authority chief executive officer Datuk Arham Abdul Rahman, construction of the ECH manufacturing facility is underway, with test operation to commence in 1Q24.
The facility has a capacity to produce up to 100 kilotonnes-per-annum.OCI-Kumho will be exporting 95% of its production to various countries worldwide.
According to Awang Tengah, Sarawak welcomes OCI’s investment as the state moves towards green energy and the digital economy, which is in line with the post Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030 that promotes economic prosperity, social inclusivity and environmental sustainability.He also lauded OCI’s corporate social responsibility commitments, which include the installation of solar panels for several schools to raise awareness on Sarawak’s general energy development.