OCI mulling expansion of polysilicon capacity by 60,000 tons
South Korean chemicals group OCI is considering expanding the capacity of its solar-grade polysilicon plant in Malaysia by up to 60,000 metric tons (MT). The Korea Economic Daily mentioned the plan on May 30, quoting an unnamed company official.
OCI is currently debottlenecking the plant by 5,000 MT to reach a capacity of 35,000 MT in the second half of 2022. If the considerations for further expansion were implemented, the total capacity would increase to 95,000 MT.
According to the Korea Economic Daily, the company is planning to relocate equipment from South Korea to Malaysia. In February 2020 OCI announced the shutdown of polysilicon production facilities with a capacity of more than 45,000 MT at its Korean factory in Gunsan. As a consequence, the company dropped from the third place to number seven in the ranking of the world’s top ten polysilicon manufacturers.
Already in March 2019, OCI Vice Chairman Lee Woo-hyun had told reporters: “It is necessary to consider moving to Malaysia after shutting down factories in Korea.” In October 2020 Lee said: “In order to further reduce the cost, it would be better to expand the facility and move the production line in Korea to Malaysia. But at present, it is impossible to provide human resources between the two countries due to Covid-19.”
Beside the decreasing impact of the pandemic, rising demand for polysilicon untainted by forced labor in Xinjiang may also spur OCI’s considerations. However, the company still has to clean up its own supply chain. Because OCI is a customer of silicon metal market leader Hoshine in Xinjiang, which is deeply involved in forced labor transfers.
In July 2021 OCI told S&P Global that it procured some silicon material from Hoshine in the past but is “currently purchasing from other suppliers by diversifying its purchasing sources to European and Latin American companies.”
- forced labor
- production capacity
- South Korea
- Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
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