Pertama Ferroalloys to invest in green bamboo plantation

Credit Source: The Star (Jack Wong, 2023)

KUCHING: Pertama Ferroalloys Sdn Bhd plans to invest in a commercial plantation in Sarawak to produce green bamboo to manufacture charcoal.

Pertama Ferroalloys, which operates a ferroalloy smelting plant in Samalaju Industrial Park, Bintulu, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corp (STIDC) to establish the plantation.

The signatories of the MoU were STIDC general manager Datuk Hashim Bojet and Asia Mineral Ltd (AML) associate director and AML Japan president Daijiro Murai.

Sarawak deputy Premier and International Trade and Investment Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, who was on a working visit to Japan, witnessed the ceremony in Tokyo recently.

AML is the major shareholder of Pertama Ferroalloys whose other shareholders are Nippon Denko Co Ltd, Carbon Capital Corp Sdn Bhd and Shinsho Corp.

The parties will set up a technical team on the project and also to collaborate with the community for bamboo contract farming and processing, produce bamboo-based handicraft products and provide training to the local community in the production of the products. Under the STIDC Bamboo Industry Development Masterplan drawn up in 2019, Sarawak targets to plant at least 20,000ha of bamboo for industrial purposes to generate RM200mil in export earnings by 2030, apart from creating 5,000 jobs with household income of RM36mil per year by 2030, according to Hashim.

Bamboo is fast growing and matures in three to five years. It is a renewable source of raw materials and has a life cycle of 50 to 80 years. By 2030, Sarawak aims to have various bamboo-based industries to produce charcoal, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, textile, pulp and paper, food, handicraft and engineered bamboo products.

In 2021, Sarawak exported about RM14.8mil (free on board value) worth of charcoal and briquette, with one-third of it to Japan.

Pertama Ferroalloys, one of the pioneer investors in Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy has recently announced investing US$600mil (RM2.65bil) in its smelting plant’s second phase expansion.

The plant, with an initial investment of US$300mil (RM1.3bil), achieved full production of 22,000 tonnes per month of manganese alloy products in 2018.

Awang Tengah commended Pertama Ferroalloys for the plant’s expansion project which would incorporate more green resources into the manufacturing process.

While in Tokyo, Awang Tengah also met with TG2 Wilhelmina Energy chief operation officer David Hiel.

TG2 is teaming up with Japan’s Idemitsu Corp to manufacture black pellets for green fuel in Sarawak.

TG2 is a renewable energy company which focuses on recycling agricultural waste streams.

Idemitsu’s first commercial plant to produce black pellets was built in Vietnam in 2022, with production volume of 120,000 tonnes per annum. Black pellets is a carbon neutral energy pellet which could be used to replace coal.

Awang Tengah said Sarawak has an abundance of empty fruit bunches (EFBs) for conversion to TG2’s black pellets, and he advised the company to work closely with STIDC to tap the potential of using the EFBs to produce black pellets.

During the January to November 2022 period, Sarawak exported RM21.5mil worth of wooden pellets to Japan and South Korea, according to STIDC export data.