Australian firm chooses S’wak for 100k tonnes per annum magnesium plant due to abundant hydropower

Awang Tengah fielding questions from reporters when met at Abang Johari and Juma'ani's open house at BCCK on April 22, 2023.

By Wilfred Pilo and Karen Bong

KUCHING, April 22: Attracted by abundant renewable hydropower energy in Sarawak, Latrobe Magnesium Ltd (ASX: LMG), a publicly listed Australia-based company, has locked in Samalaju Industrial Park in Bintulu as the ideal location for its 100,000 tonnes per annum magnesium plant.

For this, Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the company had paid him a visit, and Sarawak welcomes Australia to invest in Bintulu, particularly in high technology in line with the region’s goal to achieve high income for its people.

“They are very keen to invest in Sarawak as the availability of green energy attracts them.

“We welcome this investment, but of course, it must be (of) high technology and environmentally friendly,” he told reporters when met at Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg and wife Puan Sri Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Bujang’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here today.

Awang Tengah, who is also Minister for International Trade and Investment, added that several investors are keen to invest in Sarawak, with some making a trip down to Bintulu to conduct their studies.

According to news reports from Australia, the availability of abundant hydropower was a significant factor in Latrobe Magnesium’s decision to select Samalaju Industrial Park as it will enable the company to produce magnesium with potential net-zero emissions on a life cycle analysis basis using 100 per cent renewable power.

In selecting Samalaju, the company has also looked at Ras Al Khair in Saudi Arabia and Duqm in Oman as potential places for the plant, but Samalaju appeared to be the “clear leader” based on investigations on technical, financial, and estimated capital expenditure requirements, as well as risk and investment scenarios.

Renewable power aside, other main advantages of Samalaju the company concluded include the local production of ferrosilicon, which is one of the proposed plant’s largest reagent requirements, apart from access to supporting industries and services through the nearby town of Bintulu, skilled employment at Samalaju and also supports the nearby Petronas liquified natural gas (LNG) complex which is among the largest in the world.

Latrobe Magnesium chief executive officer David Paterson said that discussions with the Sarawak government were “well advanced” in relation to a 40-hectare site within the Samalaju park, and the company plans to begin the land application process to secure the area immediately. — DayakDaily