The PCC silicon smelter at Bakki, North Iceland, is asking its owners and other investors, such as pension funds, for up to 5 billion kronur (almost $US 40 million) to provide a firmer base for its operations. The majority of the money is expected to come from the holding company of the PCC Group, PCC SE, which has an 86.5% share in the Bakki smelter. Pension funds currently have a 13.5% share in the silicon smelter. PCC SE already provided extra funds last year in the form of a shareholder loan, totalling $US 34 million.
Although PCC SE proudly states: “In the north of Iceland we have constructed one of the world’s most advanced and most environmentally compatible facilities for silicon metal production which was commissioned in 2018”, it has in fact suffered innumerable problems and has frequently, if not usually, operated at reduced capacity due to various problems.
Just this week, the first furnace had to be switched off due to a leak in the cooling system, which led to melting of part of the electrode (þrýstiklemma in Icelandic). A new part has to be ordered. Note that the PCC website gives very little information about the plant’s problems.
Besides operating problems, the market price of silicon metal has been decreasing recently.
News of PCC’s financial problems must surely make it harder for Stakksberg to sell the former United Silicon plant in Helguvik, Southwest Iceland.
Update 22 September: They say that they have been running at much lower capacity for the last few weeks, and are only producing about 35 tonnes a day instead of 90. It also turns out that there was a second accident involving a “gun” last month, though this was not reported at the time.