KUCHING, Oct 12: Pertama Ferroalloys Sdn Bhd inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sarawak government in Tokyo, Japan yesterday (Oct 11) to expand its existing ferroalloys and ferrosilicon smelting facility in Samalaju Industrial Park in Bintulu that will see a total investment of USD600 million, making it the first of such facilities in Malaysia.

The MoU signing was witnessed by Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg who is leading a delegation from the Sarawak government on a week-long visit to Japan in conjunction with his appearance at a hydrogen forum organised by Tokyo Metropolitan government.

Pertama Ferroalloys was represented by its chairman Hirotaka Suzuki and the Sarawak government by the Deputy State Secretary (Economic Planning and Development) Datu Dr Muhammad Abdullah Zaidel.

Suzuki, who is also the Asia Minerals Limited chairman, said once the expansion is completed, the plant will look at employing 1,000 staff and workers with locals accounting for 90 per cent of the workforce.

Speaking at the event, Abang Johari said Sarawak’s renewable energy generation capacity has provided the State an advantage in attracting foreign investors over other regional competitors.

“In the face of the looming climate change crisis and the race towards renewable or green energy, Sarawak is well-positioned to attract foreign investment banking on its huge hydro-power potential,” he said in a statement today.

The Premier thanked Pertama Ferroalloys for its decision to expand its plant in Samalaju and also its intention to introduce initiatives as part of its corporate social responsibility in Sarawak, particularly in human resource development.

“Sarawak is lacking in human resources, especially in material science,” he said in reference to the field most relevant to the company’s operation.

Abang Johari thus suggested that the company’s management engage in talks with the Sarawak State Secretary to work out programmes including scholarship funding for Sarawak students through Yayasan Sarawak to pursue further studies in selected fields.

In relation to work permits, he said the Sarawak government had decided to grant expatriates a five-year work permit as an initiative to facilitate, in particular engineers and scientists, to work in the State and contribute to its development.

Earlier in the day, the Premier also received a courtesy call from the management of Marubeni Corporation. The delegation gave a briefing on the company’s operations and potential areas of co-operation with Sarawak.

Abang Johari was scheduled to speak at a hydrogen forum titled “Time to Act”, a climate change movement that seeks to explore the broader use of hydrogen as a non-fossil and emission-free fuel yesterday evening.

The Sarawak delegation included Sarawak State Secretary Datuk Amar Mohamed Abu Baker Marzuki, Muhammad Abdullah and Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Husain. Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Malaysia, Tokyo Nor’Azam Mohd Idrus was also present. -Source: Dayak Daily