US$500mil smelting plant gets nod for EIA

OM Materials (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd (OM Sarawak) has obtained detailed environmental impact assessment (DEIA) approval for its US$500mil joint-venture manganese and ferro alloy smelting plant project in Samalaju Industrial Park, Bintulu.

In an announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange, OM Holdings Ltd (OMH) said the approval from the Department of Environment (DOE) represented a major milestone in the commencement of the plant’s construction and as a pre-requisite for securing project financing.

OM Sarawak is a 80:20 joint venture between OMH and Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd.

OMH said construction of the plant on 202ha would start in the second half this year, more than a year after the commencement of site earthworks.

Partial commissioning of the plant is targeted in the first quarter of 2014 and full commercial operation in the second quarter of 2015.

OM Sarawak has recently signed a power purchase agreement with Sarawak Energy Bhd for the supply of 500 MW for 20 years to its smelting plant.

The overall project would require a built-up area of 118.6ha for the production of 300,000 tonnes of manganese-ferro alloy, 300,000 tonnes of silicon ferro alloy and 300,000 tonnes sintered manganese ore per year.

“The production of sintered manganese ore is expected to yield significant amount of slag and dust.

“While most of these wastes will be recycled as raw materials for production of silicon manganese, only the slag from the production of silicon manganese cannot be recycled in-house and needs to be sent out to external parties for recovery,” according to the DEIA report.

OMH said an estimated 264,000 tonnes of slag would be produced a year, which was assumed to be sent out to Bintulu.

The report said the Samalaju smelting plant would import over 150,300 tonnes per month of raw materials, including manganese ore, coke, silica, steel scrap, electrode paste and limestone.

“OM Sarawak’s smelting plant will change the scenario and make Malaysia a major importer of manganese ore and a major exporter of the finished products of ferro manganese and ferro silicon to the world.

“Malaysia is not currently a heavy importer of manganese alloy. In 2009, it has shown a production of 1.47 million tonnes per annum and in 2010, 3.47 million tonnes a year mainly from ores mined from Kelantan and Terengganu,” OMH said.

The proposed Samalaju Port will be used to import the raw materials and to export finished products. Earthworks for the port is under way.

The report said that during the smelter plant’s full operational phase, raw materials would be brought to the plant by conveyor belts from Samalaju Port 4km away.

It said the usage of conveyor belts to transport the raw materials would greatly reduce potential fugitive dust generation during the loading and unloading of materials onto trucks, and reduce traffic stress on roads within Samalaju industrial area.

The plant will employ more than 2,300 workers on three shifts when it is fully operational.

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