Equity raise: Sale of REC Silicon’s plant in Butte is off the table

REC Silicon’s silane/polysilicon plant in Butte, Montana
The silane and electronic-grade polysilicon plant in Butte, Montana will remain in the hands of REC Silicon – Image: REC Silicon

After an equity raise, U.S.-based polysilicon manufacturer REC Silicon has abandoned its plan to sell its cash cow, the plant in Butte, Montana. The facility can produce 7,200 metric tons (MT) of monosilane and approx. 2,000 MT of electronic-grade polysilicon annually; the majority of the polysilicon output is converted into ultra-pure float-zone silicon.

In October 2019 REC Silicon announced its intention to divest Butte in order to get fresh money; it had already tested the waters for a sale in 2017. After raising NOK1 billion (US$107.7 million) in a private placement of new shares on October 14, 2020, however, “we have the financial capacity to retain Butte. This has always been our preferred solution,” CEO Tore Torvund said at the presentation of his company’s third-quarter results on October 29.

A year ago, Torvund still argued that the semiconductor market was not a core business for REC Silicon and that it was hard to continue to ask its shareholders for new capital.

With cash in hand now, the company is planning to invest $7.7 million in the expansion of Butte’s production capacities for dichlorosilane (current capacity: 240 MT) and disilane (2.4 MT).

For the intended restart of its fluidized bed reactor plant in Moses Lake, Washington, REC Silicon now quantifies the required investment at $60 million. The company is planning to begin restart work at the end of 2021 and to start production “by 2023”, CFO James A. May said.

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