REVIEW OF OPERATIONS
During the half-year ended 31 December 2016, the Company continued to advance the commercialisation opportunity for its kaolin (aluminous clay) deposit located at Meckering, Western Australia. The proposed route to commercialisation of the deposit is the construction and operation of a high purity alumina plant in Johor, Malaysia to extract alumina from kaolin, producing 99.99% alumina oxide (Al2O3) - high purity alumina (HPA).
As announced during the half-year, the Company is attempting to finalise project debt financing for the project, the majority of which is aimed to be covered by German government export credit finance (ECA cover) made available via the German government export credit agency. ECA cover is typically available at low interest rates and on attractive terms. The balance of debt finance is expected to be available on normal commercial terms via German government owned bank KfW IPEX-Bank. The Company is being exclusively advised on project finance structuring by KfW IPEX-Bank, which is also the proposed sole debt financier.
In August 2016, following a positive pre-assessment of the HPA project by the German export credit agency, the Company announced the appointment of various due diligence consultants to conduct a detailed review of the project on behalf of KfW-IPEX Bank and the German export credit agency. The successful completion of the due diligence is the major precursor to securing project finance, and at the date of this report due diligence activities are concluding and final reports are being prepared.
In parallel with completing due diligence activities, the Company has maintained project development momentum and advanced the detailed designs of both the proposed Malaysian HPA plant and the proposed kaolin mine and container loading facility at Meckering, Western Australia. During the half-year, the company also announced a maiden mineral reserve estimate for the Meckering kaolin deposit and an updated mineral resource estimate.
With the support of existing shareholders and numerous new institutional and retail investors, the Company raised approximately $10.0 million via the placement of 71.4 million new shares at $0.14 per share in July 2016. The funds have been applied to the continuation of the detailed design of the HPA plant by the Company's appointed engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor M+W Group, to the various due diligence activities and associated test work, and to corporate costs.
Other significant developments during the half-year included:
- The positive pre-assessment of the Company's proposed US$60 million application for export credit finance from the German export credit agency;
- Receipt of loan indicative terms and conditions from KfW IPEX-Bank, the proposed sole provider of project finance;
- Opening of a site office for the Company's 100% owned Malaysian subsidiary, Altech Chemicals Sdn Bhd. The office is in the Tanjung Langsat Industrial Complex, Johor, Malaysia and is located approximately 300 metres from the site of the Company's proposed HPA plant;
- Completion of soil survey work at the proposed plant HPA site;
- Independent confirmation of the robust outlook for global HPA demand with the receipt of a report entitled "High Purity Alumina Market - Global Industry Analysis and Forecast, 2016 - 2024" by Persistence Market Research. Key findings of the report were announced by the Company on 23 November 2016;
- Signing of the lease agreement for land at the Tanjung Langsat Industrial Complex, Johor, Malaysia as the site for the proposed HPA plant. The lease is for an initial term of 30 years, with an option to renew for an additional 30 year term; and
- Submission of a Mining Proposal and a Mine Closure Plan for the Company's proposed kaolin mine at Meckering, Western Australia. At Meckering, the Company is planning to mine approximately 140,000 tonnes of kaolin once every three years as feedstock for the proposed Malaysian HPA plant. Mining is planned to take place in short two-month mining campaigns with the resultant raw kaolin stockpiled, then reclaimed and containerised at the rate of approximately 42,000 tonnes per year for shipment to Johor, Malaysia as feedstock for the HPA plant.
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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