Malaysia wins out for the location of a new magnesium plant

News Analysis



Malaysia wins out for the location of a new magnesium plant

  • Howard Head

Australian-based Latrobe Magnesium has selected Samalaju in Malaysia as the location for its 100ktpy primary magnesium plant.

Latrobe Magnesium is currently setting up a 1ktpy pilot plant in Hazelwood North in Victoria where the company will utilise its patented hydrometallurgical extraction technique to produce magnesium metal from fly-ash waste streams. As part of their development strategy, the company plans to construct a 100ktpy magnesium plant as an international supply base.

After much consideration regarding the location of its magnesium mega project, Latrobe‘s board of directors have approved the State of Sawarak in Malaysia as the location for its proposed magnesium operation, coming out on top against locations such as Ras Al Khair in Saudi Arabia and Duqm in Oman. The supporting facts for Samalaju Industrial Park include a well-developed port infrastructure and close access to ferrosilicon producers in Malaysia. Abundant hydroelectric power is available in the region that will allow Latrobe to run the plant exclusively on renewable energy. Discussions with the local Sarawak authorities are at an advanced stage, while the land application process is being initiated.

Magnesium is used in aerospace, automotive, medical and consumer goods, all of which are increasing demand for magnesium due to its light-weighting capability along with its biocompatibility. While demand is forecast to grow, magnesium supply is largely controlled by China which produces 88% of global magnesium metal, making the element rank high on critical material lists.

Latrobe Magnesium is positioning itself as a potential significant player in the magnesium supply chain outside of China as well as a producer of environmentally clean magnesium. Pre-feasibility studies for this project, however, are still underway while the timelines for the project are still not clear.