KUCHING: Under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) initiatives, the construction of Malaysia’s first manganese ferroalloy plant by Asia Minerals Ltd (AML) at Samalaju Industrial Park will soon witness ground breaking activities in early March and is expected to be completed by May 2013.
AML last month obtained Detailed Environment Impact Assessment (DEIA) approval from the Department of Environmental and also agreed on the basic terms and conditions of Long Term Power Purchase Agreement with Sarawak Electricity Supply Cooperation (SESCO).
“We have resolved to invest between US$250 million (RM793 million) and US$300 million (RM951 million) for the first and second phase of ferroalloy complex project and will discuss with our joint-venture partners for a third phase expansion,” AML corporate planning and business development general manager Yuki Nakamura told The Borneo Post in an exclusive interview yesterday.
“AML estimates that it will require an additional US$100 million (RM314 million) of investment for the third phase expansion, which is expected only to take place after 2015,” he added.
In line with the expansion, AML also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a number of big corporations from Japan, Korea and Malaysia. Through the MoU, AML stood to be the majority shareholder with 60 per cent stake of the total investment, while the remaining were held by investors.
“Each of the companies have their own expertise and experience in steel and ferroalloy industries. They will act as product offtakers and will also be involved in the management and production stage,” he explained.
When asked to identify the companies involved, he stated that most of them were public listed companies. However, he said information would be released after February or March.
On the manufacturing front, Nakamura said AML would start ramping up the first phase production in June 2013 and by June 2014, it would be able to hold full production of 240,000 metric tonnes (MT) of manganese ferroalloy and ferrosilicon per annum.
Meanwhile, the second phase was scheduled to start in July 2014 and would be able to produce up to 95,000MT per annum of ferrosilicon, silicon-metal and electrolytic manganese metal by June 2015.
“Given that, from 2015 onwards, AML will reach full production capacity for both the first and second phase with an estimated output of between 330,000 and 340,000MT per annum,” he revealed.
AML was planning to produce a full range of ferroalloy and high-value manganese products required for steel making such as silicomanganese, low carbon silicomanganese, medium and low carbon ferromanganese, silicon-metal, ferrosilicon and electrolytic manganese metal.
To fully utilise the transport facilities in Sarawak, AML had on February 2011, signed a MoU with Bintulu Port Sdn Bhd (Bintulu Port) to further invest in the port, enabling it to receive big vessels such as ‘handymax’ size of ships from the end of 2012.
“We will transport between 40,000MT and 50,000MT of manganese ore per ship from South Africa, Brazil and Australia which will be discharged at Bintulu Port and New Samalaju Port to be established under the SCORE project.
“Including other raw materials such as coal/cokes, silica quartz, etc, we are targeting to import 1,400,000MT per annum of raw materials and export 340,000MT of final products to overseas markets as well as the local Malaysian market,” said Nakamura.
Not forgetting the vision of the Chief Minister of Sarawak, AML was also leveraging on several local consultants to run the projects. “We have our main project consultants working on it in India, Japan and China and we will assign local companies here to support and advice us to suit the local requirement and standards,” he pointed out.
Apart from that, AML has also started its local employment procedure this first quarter. “AML is going to employ around 600 to 650 staff and workers to start the production from June 2013, and start employment procedures from April 2012. In line with the SCORE’s initiatives, we will try to get in as many Malaysians as possible,” said Nakamura.