As a result of additional purchase commitments from silicon metal customers, Timminco of Canada will restart the third of its three electric furnaces at the company's Becancour Silicon facilities in Quebec. The company also plans to bring back some of the workers that were laid off earlier in the year.
Timminco uses a proprietary technology to purify silicon metal in solar grade silicon to use in solar cell manufacturing, according to the company. It additionally produces silicon metal for various industrial applications in the aluminum, chemicals, electronics, pharmaceuticals and automotive industries. Due to the economic downturn and its effect on the solar industry, Timminco lowered its production levels, temporarily laid off more than 170 employees and, according to Mining Weekly, was negotiating with customers this spring "after some buyers terminated their contracts citing 'noncompliance' and wanted to have deposits repaid."
To meet a rise in demand for silicon metal, Timminco restarted two of its three electric furnaces this summer and plans to operate the third one soon.
"In this challenging environment," says President and COO John Fenger, "we have focused our efforts on meeting current market specifications for quality that would permit our customers to manufacture solar cells made from our solar grade silicon that are indistinguishable from cells made with polysilicon, through advancing our knowledge of ingotting and purification processes."