Industrial Processes Ramp Up Demand for Silicon

Industrial Processes Ramp Up Demand for Silicon

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Jan. 12, 2022

FinancialBuzz.com News Commentary

NEW YORK, Jan. 12, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Among the many elements, Silicon is one of the most useful to mankind. It is largely used to make alloys including aluminum-silicon and ferro-silicon (iron-silicon). These are used to make dynamo and transformer plates, engine blocks, cylinder heads and machine tools and to deoxidize steel. Therefore, the silicone industry is driven mainly by its growing demand in various end-use industries, such as building & construction, industrial process, personal care & consumer goods, transportation, and electronics. In addition, the market is segmented by application into aluminum alloys, semiconductors, solar panels, stainless steel, and others. Overall, the industrial process segment is expected to hold the largest market share during the forecast period. And, according to data provided by MarketsAndMarkets, the global silicone market size is projected to grow from USD 16.7 Billion in 2021 to USD 23.4 Billion by 2026 while at a CAGR of 7.0% from 2021 to 2026. MGX Minerals Inc. (CSE: XMG) (OTC: MGXMF), U.S. Silica Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SLCA), PyroGenesis Canada Inc. (NASDAQ: PYR), Magnachip Semiconductor Corporation (NYSE: MX), Xperi Holding Corporation (NASDAQ: XPER) 

Furthermore, the industrial process segment is expected to hold the largest market share during the forecast period. Yet, last year, the shortage in silicon metal, sparked by a production cut in China, had sent prices up 300% in less than two months. According to a report by Bloomberg, it was the latest in a litany of disruptions, from snarled supply chains to a power crunch, that are creating a destructive mix for companies and consumers.

MGX Minerals Inc. (CSE: XMG) (OTC: MGXMF) just announced breaking news regarding the, "engagement of global mining equipment supplier Metso-Outotec ("Metso") for its British Columbia Silicon Project.  Metso has been tasked with providing design, equipment and mechanical engineering for the processing of high grade silica from the Company's wholly owned Gibraltar silica deposit into silicon metal 3303# grade.  The primary piece of processing equipment is a sub-merged arc furnace ("SAF").  This electric arc furnace generates heat up to 1600 degrees Celsius sufficient to melt the quartzite.  The liquid metal is then tapped and poured into bricks and rough crushed into 3"-4" pieces for shipment. 

Global Silicon Shortage

The demand for silicon metal continues to grow and recent supply chain bottlenecks have limited overall supply, creating an opportunity for the distribution of silicon in Asia from North America.  Increased demand for solar panels, microprocessors, and silicon alloys, due to its semi-conductor and structural properties, continue to create large scale shortages for silicon.  Silicon metal 3303# grade is currently quoted at $3500 USD per tonne East China (January 4, 2022, price.metal.com/Silicon).

Silicon Sale and Distribution

MGX has recently entered into a non-binding Letter of Intent ("LOI")for business development and distribution partnership (the "Partnership") with Dong Bang Metal Co. Ltd ("Dong Bang') of Korea for metallurgical grade silicon 3303# (see press release dated January 5, 2022). The Partnership has executed the LOI which outlines specific commercial terms including grade, quantity, price, delivery and distribution plan.  Under certain terms and conditions, Dong Bang will receive exclusive distribution rights for Asia, inclusive of Korea and Japan. 

Metallurgy

Metallurgical testing on an one ton sample from the Company's Gibraltar Silica deposit, located 95 kilometers north-east of Cranbrook, British Columbia, has indicated that the material is chemically suitable, as medium quality feedstock, for metallurgical-grade silicon.  The one ton sample of quartzite from Gibraltar was shipped to an independent lab, Dorfner Anzaplan, an independent laboratory, for mineralogical analyses through X-ray diffraction analysis, chemical analyses through X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, grain size distribution, mineral processing analysis, automated optical sorting, and thermal stability testing. The sample was crushed and screened into fractions between 20–120 mm for evaluation of applicability of these fractions as feedstock for metallurgical-grade silicon production.  Results indicate that the material, after comminution and classification fraction, is of high initial purity (99.5 wt.-%), making the fraction chemically suitable as medium quality feedstock material for metallurgical-grade silicon metal production.

Gibraltar Silica

The Gibraltar Silica Property is located approximately 95 kilometres northeast of Cranbrook, BC. It covers a sedimentary clastic-carbonate rock package located near the confluence of Kootenay and White River. Sedimentary rocks generally have a north-northwest strike, but locally a north-northeast strike is prominent. Minor folding was noted in the carbonate sequence immediately adjacent to quartzite unit. Two westerly dipping thrust faults (Hay, Carter, 1988) are believed to run north-south close to the eastern edge of the Gibraltar property.

The Company has completed 5 drill holes at Gibraltar. The holes were located at the Red Cloud (Gibraltar) quarry that was operated on a small scale in 1967. The objective of the drill program was to test subsurface dimensions of high purity quartzite. The Gibraltar North Zone has been sampled, mapped and the area located about 400 meters north of the south zone, represents the continuation of the Mount Wilson Formation quartzite.

Qualified Person

Andris Kikauka (P. Geo.), CEO of MGX Minerals, has prepared, reviewed and approved the scientific and technical information in this press release. Mr. Kikauka is a non-independent Qualified Person within the meaning of NI 43-101."

U.S. Silica Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SLCAannounced on November 30th, 2021 that its Industrial and Specialty Products business will increase prices for most of its non-contracted silica sand, aplite, diatomaceous earth and clay products used primarily in glass, foundry, paints, coatings, elastomers, roofing, chemicals, recreation, building products, agricultural, pet litter and other applications. Price increases will range from 6% to 14%, depending on the product and grade, and go into effect for shipments beginning February 1, 2022. These price increases are necessary to help offset significant and continuing cost increases in energy, labor, transportation, materials and manufacturing costs.

PyroGenesis Canada Inc. (NASDAQ: PYR) announced on September 8th, 2021 that, further to its press releases dated May 27th and July 6th, 2021, it has now received $630,000 in additional funding from a second government agency, for a total project value of approximately $5.3MM (including sale of IP of $3.3MM), all to be received by the Company. As previously disclosed, PyroGenesis, in partnership with HPQ Silica Polvere Inc. ("HPQ Polvere") a wholly owned subsidiary of HPQ Silicon Resources Inc. ("HPQ"), has been tasked to design, develop and manufacture downstream business opportunities by converting quartz to fumed silica, using a novel one-step plasma-based reactor. This process is designed to enable the reduction of hazardous waste and greenhouse gas ("GHG") emissions when compared to legacy processes. Under the partnership agreement, PyroGenesis also benefits from (i) a 10% royalty ("Royalty") on HPQ Polvere's future sales (with set minimums never to exceed 100% of revenues), and (ii) the option to convert this Royalty at any time into a 50% ownership in HPQ Polvere.

Magnachip Semiconductor Corporation (NYSE: MX) announced on January 6th, 2022 that the company is expanding its organic light-emitting diode display driver integrated circuit (OLED DDIC) product lineup by developing a next-generation OLED DDIC for automotive displays.  In recent years, the use of electric vehicles, autonomous driving and connected cars has been increasing and it has driven the demand for automotive semiconductors, which are essential for the rapid advancement of infotainment and driving safety. Magnachip is developing an OLED DDIC for automotive based on the 40nm process technology, which is designed for center stack displays and instrument cluster displays. The company plans to supply the new product to premium European car manufacturers in the first half of 2023. "We are entering the OLED DDIC automotive market with a confidence based on our established industry leadership and heritage of working closely with our customers to develop products to meet their exact specifications," said YJ Kim, CEO of Magnachip. "Vehicles incorporating displays based on our next-generation OLED DDIC technology represents another step in improved safety, functionality and convenience for consumers." 

Xperi Holding Corporation (NASDAQ: XPER) announced on October 12th, 2021 that the company entered into a license agreement with Yangtze Memory Technologies Co., Ltd. (YMTC), a world-class memory solutions company based in China. The agreement includes access to a foundational portfolio of semiconductor intellectual property related to Xperi's DBI hybrid bonding technology. "Xperi's DBI hybrid bonding is a key enabling technology for current and future generations of high performance, high-capacity 3D NAND flash memory," said Craig Mitchell, president of Invensas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Xperi. "We are proud to provide YMTC access to our foundational IP portfolio and look forward to further expanding our relationship."  Hybrid bonding 3D integration technology is increasingly being utilized in various semiconductor devices such as sensors, memory, and logic devices to enable enhanced performance and functionality while reducing size and cost. In 3D NAND applications, DBI hybrid bonding technology enables the disaggregation of the memory array and logic circuitry allowing the optimal wafer process node to be used for each.  Xperi has pioneered fundamental advances in the semiconductor industry over the past 30 years. With a large and growing portfolio of intellectual property covering hybrid bonding, semiconductor packaging, and semiconductor processing technologies, Xperi licenses and partners with leading semiconductor companies around the world.

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