Does the US need another Si smelter; HiTest Sand thinks so

HiTest Sand appears to be a Mississippi Silicon wantabe. The company first wanted to build a silicon smelter in British Columbia, near its silica deposit in nearby Golden. However, the project got moved to Washington State, which promied a better financial package. Still to be resolved in a new power agreement, with the company looking for around 3¢ per kWh, or half the industrial rate of British Columbia. In addition, Washington offered free land on a brownfield site and tax holidays.

HiTest Sand believes it has a competitive advantage, i.e., being the only silicon metal smelter in the Pacific Northwest. Also, the company will take advantage of the 60% duty Canada imposed on Chinese silicon metal imports that opened a 50,000-mtpy hole for another producer other than FerroGlobe’s Timminco. The company also believes it has a raw material cost advantage; its quartz (99.84% purity) cost is $130 per mt vs. an average cost of $260 pr m of finished product.

HiTest believes the plant could be built in 20 months once all the approvals are given. The size of the plant is unknown but it has to be over 50,000 mtpy.

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