Hemlock making poly-Si push with new expansion

May 2, 2007 – After a nine-month search for a new manufacturing site to expand the company’s polysilicon supplies for both solar and electronics markets, Hemlock Semiconductor Corp. has settled on its hometown of Hemlock, MI. The expansion, to cost up to $1 billion over the next four years and slated to online in 2010, will nearly double the company’s total output of polycrystalline silicon to 36,000 metric tons/year.

Another ~$500 million expansion project, first announced in Nov. 2005, is already under construction at the company’s Michigan site and expected to come online early next year. That project will increase Hemlock’s annual capacity by 45% to 14,500 metric tons by 2008, and to 19,000 metric tons by 2009.

In a statement, Rick Doornbos, president/CEO of Hemlock Semiconductor, called the plan nothing less than “the largest expansion in the history of this industry.” For Hemlock workers it means an additional 250 full-time jobs and an equal number of contract positions once completed, as well as 800 temp workers for the construction.

In addition, Dow Corning, a major supplier of raw materials to Hemlock, will expand and upgrade its Midland, MI site as well as hire more workers. Dow is a majority partner (63.25%) in the Hemlock Semi JV, along with Japan’s Shin-Etsu Handotai Co. Ltd. (24.5%) and Mitsubishi Materials Corp. (12.25).

“The solar energy industry is growing at a tremendous pace,” said Marie N. Eckstein, Dow Corning’s VP and GM of advanced technologies and ventures, in the same statement, and “a readily available supply of polycrystalline silicon is essential to continued innovation in this promising alternative-energy industry.”

Hemlock isn’t finished with its expansion goals, either, adding that it is still searching for a new greenfield fab location to match rising demand for polysilicon, particularly from the solar sector. “In this period of strong growth in the solar industry, we need to identify the best global site for future expansions so we can continue to move rapidly to meet our customers’ needs,” stated Doornbos.


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