Altech Chemicals breaks ground in Malaysia as stage I high purity alumina plant work begins

Altech Chemicals Ltd is starting stage I construction of its high purity alumina (HPA) plant in Johor, Malaysia, following a ground-breaking ceremony this week.

First construction step is an 8-week geotechnical drilling and ground survey program with the objective of confirming ground conditions and optimising proposed foundation piling.

The stage I work package of about $10 million was executed with SMS Group in July 2018 and is being funded by Altech from its recently completed share placement and share purchase plan.

A number of dignitaries, project stakeholders and Altech’s full board of directors and staff attended the ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday at the Tanjung Langsat HPA plant site.

Altech non-executive chairman Luke Atkins said: “The company is very proud to have reached this important milestone of commencing the construction of its HPA plant.

“This is a real testament to the board and management team and staff of the company, who have been extremely dedicated and focused.”

He also acknowledged the vision, dedication and drive of managing director Iggy Tan, saying he had been instrumental in bringing the project to fruition.

Dignitaries present included the Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, Andrew Goledzinowski; German Ambassador to Malaysia, Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff; Australian Trade Commissioner to Malaysia, Kelly Matthews and head of the Malaysia/German chamber of commerce Daniel Bernbeck.

Stakeholders representatives included executives from senior lender KfW IPEX-Bank, German government export credit agency Euler Hermes, EPC contractor SMS group and sales off-take partner Mitsubishi Corporation.

There were also representatives from Johor Corporation, the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and key local service providers and suppliers.

Altech aims to become one of the world’s leading suppliers of 99.99% (4N) HPA.

Its 4,500 tonnes per annum plant forms an important part of an integrated HPA strategy which incorporates kaolin clay sourced from the company’s kaolin deposit at Meckering, Western Australia.

The production process will employ conventional off-the-shelf plant and equipment to extract HPA using a hydrochloric (HCl) acid-based process.

Production costs are anticipated to be considerably lower than established HPA producers.

In his opening address at the ceremony, Iggy Tan thanked the Altech board for its unwavering support for the project and its leadership, both of which have been instrumental in enabling the project to advance to the significant ground-breaking milestone.

He also thanked Altech’s management and staff, attributing the project’s success to date to the team based culture within the company.

“The success of any organisation is largely due to the workplace culture – within Altech we have fostered a team orientated, dynamic and compassionate culture,” he said.

In noting the company’s achievements, Tan said: “During a period of slightly less than four years the company has completed a definitive feasibility study and a final investment decision study for its HPA project.

“[It has also] developed and finalised a kaolin to HPA process design; concluded laboratory pilot plant test-work; finalised JORC compliant kaolin resource and reserve estimations; and secured and acquired the site for its HPA plant and kaolin mining operation.”

Tan said environmental and development approvals had been concluded in Australia and Malaysia, and a 10-year HPA off-take arrangement had been executed.

With regards to financing, he said Altech had negotiated a US$280 million fixed-price lump-sum turnkey EPC contract for the plant and secured senior project finance of US$190 million from German Government-owned KfW IPEX-Bank.

The managing director said Altech was now concluding US$150 million of additional project finance initiatives.

“Many projects struggle to be funded and few projects achieve this kind of developmental success in such a short time frame.

“None of this would have been possible without the dedication and focus of the team consisting of board members, management, staff, shareholders and all stakeholders,” he added.

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