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HiTec intensifies charge

DISCOVERING a use for tonnes of virtual waste product could provide the catalyst for a Perth company to dominate a world market.

HiTec Energy will on Tuesday announce the favourable results from its bankable feasibility study to produce Electrolytic Manganese Dioxide (EMD) – an electrofuel that gives portable batteries their power.

It is the next phase of a plan that includes starting construction of an EMD plant at Port Hedland by March with production planned to start between March and December, 2002.

The company had the ability to dominate the market because its proposal had a number of sustainable competitive advantages over other producers of EMD, managing director Mark Hansen said.

He said the company had developed a process to develop EMD that was more environmentally friendly than existing methods and used an ore feed that was low grade and of no alternative commercial value (its former “waste” product).

It also has location. HiTec Energy was granted a 50 hectare site at Port Hedland by the State Government that has crucial infrastructure (gas, water, gas-forced power station and a highway) within one kilometre of the site.

“The market for high quality EMD has been growing at around 10 per cent per annum and this year has gone into shortfall because of insufficient supply,” Mr Hansen said.

He said hybrid electric cars were expected to be a major consumer of EMD, which could lead to an “explosive” growth in demand.

About 270,000 tonnes is produced for the world market each year, ranging from US$950 to US$1750 a tonne.

HiTec Energy’s financial model for its plant is based on initial production rate of 20,000 tonnes of EMD per annum, increasing to 40,000.

After tax earnings were projected to start at $12.2 million and increase to $72 million after 15 years.

The company traded to a record 14c earlier this week.

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