South Korean polysilicon manufacturer OCI to invest $858.5 million in new plant

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In a bid to join the leading global producers of polysilicon, South Korean chemical manufacturer OCI plans to restart construction on a new poly plant inside its existing facility in Gunsan in January. The company (the former DC Chemical) will invest 1 trillion Won (approximately $858.5 million) in its Phase 3 (P3) factory, which will have an annual manufacturing capacity of 10,000 metric tons when commercial production begins in 2011, bringing its total annual poly capability to 27,000 metric tons.

OCI, the only company in Korea with its own Siemens process-based polysilicon manufacturing technology, has already built the 6500-metric-ton P1 plant (completed in December 2007) and the 10,500-metric-ton P2 expansion (completed in July 2009).

When plans were announced in June 2008, P3 was originally scheduled for completion in December 2009, but its construction was postponed temporarily because of the poly oversupply and macroeconomic conditions, before getting the go-ahead from the company’s board to recommence the buildout earlier this month.

The new plant is expected to directly generate 500 jobs, according to OCI.

The company believes that despite the continuing oversupply of polysilicon, the market demand for high-efficiency solar cells and preference for high-purity polysilicon will grow steadily. OCI says it is already producing 10-nine grade polysilicon, which is one grade higher than 9-nine purity silicon, and the company’s plan is to sell most of the additional product through long-term supply contracts.

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