KUCHING: Pertama Ferroalloys Sdn Bhd will invest US$600mil (RM2.81bil) on its ferroalloy smelting plant’s second phase expansion project in Samalaju Industrial Park, Bintulu.

The company inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Sarawak government on the project in Tokyo recently.

The signatories were Pertama Ferroalloys chairman Hirotaka Suzuki and Sarawak deputy state secretary (economic planning and development) Datuk Dr Muhammad Abdullah Zaidel.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, who recently led a state trade delegation to Japan.

According to a statement issued by the Sarawak Premier’s office, Hirotaka had said the plant would increase its workforce to 1,000 on operation of the expansion project.

Pertama Ferroalloys (formerly known as AML Manganese (M) Sdn Bhd) is the first to set up a manganese alloy and ferrosilicon smelting plant in Malaysia – at the Samalaju Industrial Park under Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy.

With an initial investment of US$300mil (RM1.4bil), the plant achieved full production of 22,000 tonnes per month of manganese alloy products in 2018.

Pertama Ferroalloys is a joint venture between manganese mining and ferroalloy trading houses sourcing for leading steel products.

The company’s shareholders are Asia Minerals Ltd (AML), Nippon Denko Co Ltd, Carbon Capital Corp Sdn Bhd and Shinsho Corp. The plant sources its raw materials from AML mines in South Africa.

Currently, there are two other ferroalloy smelting plants in Samalaju Industrial Park, which are owned by OM Materials (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd and Sakura Ferroalloys Sdn Bhd respectively – a tripartite joint venture between South Africa’s Assmang Pte Ltd, Japan’s Sumitomo Corp and Taiwan’s China Steel Corp.

Commenting on Pertama Ferroalloys’ new investment in the smelting plant’s project, Johari said Sarawak’s large renewable energy generation capacity from hydro sources had provided the state with the advantage in attracting foreign investors over other regional competitors.

The current installed capacity of 3,452MW in hydro energy generation, he said “has enabled Sarawak to offer the most competitive power tariffs in the region to energy-intensive industries.

“For companies involved in the ferroalloy smelting business in Sarawak, this will give them an advantage as their products will have an edge over other similar products that are made using fossil fuels.”

State-owned Sarawak Energy Bhd currently owns the 2,400MW Bakun hydroelectric dam, 944MW Murim hydro dam and 108MW Batang Ai dam.

Under construction now is the 1,285MW Baleh hydro dam, which is expected to come onstream in 2026.

“In the face of looming climate change crisis and the race towards renewable or green energy, Sarawak is well-positioned to attract foreign investments banking on its huge hyro-power potentials,” Johari noted.

As Sarawak needs more skilled manpower in its development projects, he also said the state government has decided to grant expatriates a five-year working permit as an initiative to facilitate engineers and scientists to work in the state. -Source: The Star