REC Silicon mulls selling its cash cow, the Butte polysilicon plant

REC Silicon’s silane/polysilicon plant in Butte, Montana
Shrinking liquidity has prompted REC Silicon to offer its electronic-grade polysilicon plant in Butte for sale – Image: REC Silicon

REC Silicon has announced considerations to sell its second plant, located in Butte in the U.S. state of Montana, which produces silane and electronic-grade polysilicon for the semiconductor industry.

The company’s fluidized bed reactor plant for granular solar-grade polysilicon in Moses Lake, Washington was already mothballed in July. The announcement regarding Butte is obviously a reaction to an analyst report from Sparebank 1 Markets released on October 2, which paints a gloomy outlook for REC Silicon.

Back in May, the company still proclaimed it would continue to operate the profitable Butte facility with an annual EBITDA contribution of approx. $50 million. However, the trade conflict between the U.S. and China has also clouded the semiconductor sector. REC Silicon’s silane gas sales in the third quarter were below guidance; electronic-grade polysilicon shipments dropped significantly.

In an interview with Greentech Media, REC Silicon’s chief financial officer James A. May has confirmed that “recent occurrences with the semiconductor market” are the reason why “we don’t have the necessary liquidity to meet all of our obligations.”

If Butte is sold, REC Silicon will only be left with a 15% stake in its Chinese FBR joint venture and the distant prospect of restarting Moses Lake to supply silane for battery anodes.

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