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Altech Managing Director Iggy Tan (far left) tightening the first bolts at the HPA plant in Malaysia

Altech hits construction milestone at HPA plant

Altech Chemicals has reached another milestone on its journey towards becoming a significant high purity alumina, or “HPA”, producer with the raising of the first steel column at its Malaysian plant site.

Management said this represents the culmination of a series of major achievements for the project over the last six months including advanced design and engineering, obtaining of permits and approvals, completion of bulk earthworks and site establishment.

Stage 1 construction of the plant started in February 2019 and is being carried out by Metix, the wholly-owned South African subsidiary of German engineering, procurement and construction contractor, the SMS group.

The plant in the Tanjung Industrial complex in Johor will produce up to 4,500 tonnes of HPA from very pure kaolin clays sourced from a shallow open pit mining operation near Meckering in WA.

Altech’s Meckering deposit has a current JORC resource of 12.7 million tonnes grading 29.5% alumina, which is sufficient to support a staggering mine life of 250 years at the expected throughput rate.

This includes a measured resource of 1.5Mt @ 30% alumina and an indicated resource of 3.3Mt @ 30% alumina. In addition, the deposit has less than 1% of impurities such as iron, potassium and sodium.

Last month, the company raised $18m through a share placement that was strongly supported by two new German investors – Deutsche Balaton and Delphi, to support Stage 2 construction of the HPA plant.

German government-owned KfW-IPEX Bank has already committed to a USD$190m senior debt package for Altech’s HPA project while Macquarie Bank has been officially mandated as the exclusive mezzanine lender for a proposed facility of up to USD$90 million.

Completion of the mezzanine facility is conditional on due diligence outcomes and Macquarie agreeing with KfW-IPEX on inter-creditor arrangements.

HPA is utilised in high tech applications such as LED lighting and advanced mobile phones.

However, the real driver for growth could be its use as a separator in lithium-ion batteries to improve both safety and performance.

This is highlighted by Japanese battery separator sheet manufacturer W-Scope’s recent announcement of annual sales revenue guidance for 2019 of 17.5b Yen, double its 2018 sales revenue of 8.7b Yen.

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