KUCHING: PMB Technology Bhd, which operates a metallic silicon plant in Samalaju Industrial Park, Bintulu, foresees global supply tightness in silicon metal.

According to chief executive officer Koon Poh Ming, the recent power rationing and Covid-19 outbreak in two cities in China, in silicon metal producing regions, along with labour disputes at several silicon metal production plants in Europe, are creating some concerns about supply tightness.

However, he said the full impact of the supply situation is yet to be ascertained and will depend on the severity and duration of these events.

“The near-term outlook for silicon metal on the demand side from the chemical and automotive sectors has been negatively impacted by fears of a global slowdown in economic activity and inflationary pressures.

“The global financial markets and supply chain disruptions remained highly volatile and largely reflected the continued strengthening of the US dollar following aggressive US monetary policy tightening.

“Added to this is increased investors’ risk aversion due to the weaker-than-expected global growth outlook and the spillovers from the Ukraine conflict,” Koon said.

He added: “Demand for silicon metal from the solar photovoltaic sector is expected to remain strong as major nations ramp up climate-related spending.

“This incentivises investment in the expansion of renewable energy generation.

“Year-on-year global energy transition spending continues to grow, which is an indication that most nations remain committed to meeting their climate targets.”

Higher metallic silicon prices have driven up earnings of PMB Technology, which saw its group net profit climb to RM35.2mil on revenue of RM260.2mil in the second quarter of 2022 (2Q22), against RM11.6mil and RM178.3mil respectively, in 2Q21.

During the January-June 2022 period, PMB Technology’s group net profit soared to RM90mil from RM18.2mil, and revenue shot up to RM562.2mil from RM340.1mil in the same period in 2021.

Koon attributed the higher profits mainly to the improved contribution from the metallic silicon plant, which doubled its annual production capacity of 72,000 tonnes on completion of its RM300mil Phase 2 project in 2020. Phase 1 of the manufacturing facility came on stream in 2019.

PMB Technology is an associate of Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd, which is South-East Asia’s largest integrated aluminium producer with a smelting capacity of 1.08 million tonnes and an extrusion capacity of 210,000 tonnes per annum.

Press Metal’s aluminium smelting plants are located in Samalaju Industrial Park and Mukah, central Sarawak.

PMB Technology exited the trading of aluminium extrusion businesses when it disposed of four companies in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah to Press Metal Group in 2019, to focus its resources in metallic silicon manufacturing.

PMB Technology then targeted the metallic silicon business to become one of the key pillars of its growth that further enhanced its prospects and revenue.

PMB Technology is embarking on Phase 3 of its expansion of the Bintulu metallic silicon plant after it secured an additional 25 megawatts (bringing total power to 129MW) with the signing of a legal binding term sheet agreement with Syarikat Sesco Bhd, a unit of Sarawak Energy Bhd, last December.

From Sarawak, PMB Technology has plans to expand its metallic silicon business to neighbouring Sabah, with possible investment in a new manufacturing plant in the Sipitang Oil and Gas Industrial Park, which is in the process of being developed by state-owned Sabah Oil and Gas Development Corp Sdn Bhd (SOGDC).

In a memorandum of understanding (MoU) inked between PMB Technology and SOGDC in March 2022, SOGDC is to sub-lease/sell 200 acres of land to PMB Technology for the manufacturing plant project.

The MoU, according to PMB Technology, allows the company to explore the development and operation of the plant with a sufficient, constant and steady supply of natural gas at acceptable rates. -Source: The Star