Half Yearly Report
REVIEW OF OPERATIONS
During the half-year ended 31 December 2018, the Company continued its efforts to secure the balance of project funding that it requires to draw-down on the US$190 million project finance debt package that has been approved by German Government owned KfW IPEX-Bank for construction of its proposed Malaysian high purity alumina (HPA) plant. A term sheet for a US$90 million mezzanine debt facility was announced in May 2018 and during the half-year the proposed mezzanine lender focussed on completing a detailed technical review of the Company's HPA project; the Company announced the successful conclusion of the technical review in January 2019. Altech's HPA project has now been the subject of two detailed independent technical reviews, both of which have culminated in positive and satisfactory conclusions.
In parallel with financing activities, the Company continued to advance towards the commencement of HPA plant construction in Malaysia. The completion of a A$21 million capital raising in July 2018, which comprised a placement of shares to various institutional and professional investors (A$17 million) and a strongly supported share purchase plan (A$4 million), provided sufficient funds to announce the commencement of HPA plant site clearance works and stage-1 construction activities during the half-year, having an approximate value of A$11 million. On 8 August 2018, the Company held a ground-breaking ceremony in Johor, Malaysia, which marked the official commencement of site works for the HPA plant. The Company has pre-paid for a majority of the stage-1 construction works to its appointed engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor SMS group GmbH, the majority of these payments will be credited against the US$280m EPC contract value.
During the half-year, the Company also completed a geotechnical ground survey at site for the HPA plant; finalised the HPA plant site layout and building design; and in January 2019 the Development Order for the HPA plant's construction was issued by local government authorities in Johor, Malaysia. The US$280 million fixed-price, lump-sum EPC contract for construction of the Company's proposed Malaysian HPA plant was signed with SMS group Gmbh of Germany in late November 2018, and in early December 2018 the ~US$2.5million EPC contract for the construction of the kaolin ore container loading facility at Meckering, Western Australia was signed with Simulus Engineering of Perth, Australia.
The first of seven patent applications was granted for the Company's kaolin to HPA processing method during the half-year, with a Certificate of Grant for an innovation patent announced in mid-October 2018. The patent acknowledges that Altech's process for producing HPA from aluminous material such as kaolin incorporates unique steps. The granted innovation patent is one of five patent applications lodged in Australia, the other two patent applications were lodged in Malaysia. The Company is committed to placing itself in a strong position to protect its intellectual property rights for its kaolin to HPA manufacturing process.
Based on the Company's attendance at the three-day international rechargeable battery exhibition (Battery Osaka) during the half-year, the outlook for HPA demand and pricing continues to appear strong. A predominant theme emanating from discussions with lithium-ion battery manufacturers at the exhibition was the importance of HPA purity and product consistency, with several Japanese and South Korean buyers at the exhibition able to confirm that the prevailing market price for the highest consistency and quality HPA (99.99% Al2O3), typically from Japan is around US$40,000 tonne (US$40kg).
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About Altech Chemicals Ltd
HPA is a high-value, high margin and highly demanded product as it is the critical ingredient required for the production of synthetic sapphire. Synthetic sapphire is used in the manufacture of substrates for LED lights, semiconductor wafers used in the electronics industry, and scratch-resistant sapphire glass used for wristwatch faces, optical windows and smartphone components. There is no substitute for HPA in the manufacture of synthetic sapphire.
Global HPA demand is approximately 25,315tpa (2016) and demand is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.7% (2016-2024), primarily driven by the growth in worldwide adoption of LEDs. As an energy efficient, longer lasting and lower operating cost form of lighting, LED lighting is replacing the traditional incandescent bulbs.
Altech Chemicals Ltd