Wacker to restart US polysilicon production

The German chemical giant has said the cause of the explosion in 2017 at its Charleston factory in Tennessee has been “clarified” and that repair work has reached a stage where production can once again begin. It expects polysilicon to be ready for sale this Q2.

The news was reported on the back of the Munich-based company’s Q1 2018 financial earnings which, while affected by the incident, have still recorded improvement.

Overall, Wacker posted US$1.22 billion in sales, up 4% QoQ and equal to Q1 2017, of which its polysilicon activities accounted for just €219.3 million, representing an 18% decline both YoY and QoQ.

“The marked decrease was primarily due to lower volumes. As a result of the production shutdown at Charleston, the division had much less polysilicon available for sale than a year ago,” explained Wacker in a statement released, adding “Alongside lower sales, the decline was caused by ongoing costs at the Charleston site. No insurance compensation for the business interruption loss at Charleston was booked in the reporting quarter.” Prices remained relatively stable, however.

Total net income for the group was €79 million. It did not divulge the figures for polysilicon, but did say that EBITDA came in at €48.2 million (out of an overall €255 million), a 32% decrease YoY and 24% QoQ.

In addition to its U.S. factory troubles, Wacker said the trade restrictions in both the U.S. and China are “worrying, as global economic growth might slow noticeably.”

Despite this, the company’s prospects remain “good” and, as such, it has confirmed its initial 2018 aims of increasing FY sales by a low single-digit percentage and EBITDA by a mid-single-digit rate.

Sales and EBITDA in 2017 were €4.92 billion and €1.014 billion, respectively.