Altech Chemicals Limited (Altech/the Company) is aiming to become one of the world's leading suppliers of 99.99% (4N) high purity alumina (Al2O3) through the construction and operation of a 4,500tpa high purity alumina (HPA) processing plant at Johor, Malaysia. Feedstock for the plant will be sourced from the Company’s 100%-owned kaolin deposit at Meckering, Western Australia and shipped to Malaysia.
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. Increasingly HPA is used by lithium-ion battery manufacturers as the coating on the battery’s separator, which improves performance, longevity and safety of the battery. With global HPA demand approximately 19,000t (2018), it is estimated that this demand will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30% (2018-2028); by 2028 HPA market demand is forecast to be approximately 272,000t, driven by the increasing adoption of LEDs worldwide as well as the demand for HPA by lithium-ion battery manufacturers to serve the surging electric vehicle market.
German engineering firm SMS group GmbH (SMS) is the appointed EPC contractor for construction of Altech’s Malaysian HPA plant. SMS has provided a USD280 million fixed price turnkey contract and has proposed clear and concise guarantees to Altech for plant throughput and completion. Altech has executed an off take sales arrangement with Mitsubishi Corporation’s Australian subsidiary, Mitsubishi Australia Ltd (Mitsubishi) covering the first 10-years of HPA production from the plant.
Conservative (bank case) cash flow modelling of the project shows a pre-tax net present value of USD505.6million at a discount rate of 7.5%. The Project generates annual average net free cash of ~USD76 million at full production (allowing for sustaining capital and before debt servicing and tax), with an attractive margin on HPA sales of ~63%.
The Company has been successful in securing senior project debt finance of USD190 million from German government owned KfW IPEX-Bank as senior lender. Altech has also mandated Macquarie Bank (Macquarie) as the preferred mezzanine lender for the project. The indicative and non-binding mezzanine debt term sheet (progressing through due diligence) is for a facility amount of up to USD90 million. To maintain project momentum during the period leading up to financial close, Altech has raised ~A$39 million in the last 24 months to fund Stage 1 and 2 of the plant’s construction; Stage 1 construction commenced in February 2019 with Stage 2 now underway.
Altech recently announced the sale of an option to Frankfurt stock exchange listed Youbisheng Green Paper AG (since renamed Altech Advanced Materials AG (AAM)), whereby AAM can acquire up to a 49% interest in Altech’s HPA project for USD100 million. AAM has commenced the process of securing the funds to enable it to exercise its option, which once complete would be the catalyst for project financial close.