Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB), announced today that it has begun its largest capital investment in the fast growing Asia Pacific region of Yeosu, South Korea.
The Yeosu site contains existing R&D as well as pilot plant equipment that will be modified to enable customer qualification efforts in 2010. The site will effectively mirror Albemarle's world scale metallocene polyolefin catalyst and Trimethyl Gallium (TMG) capabilities located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Albemarle will build on its leading supply and technology position in metallocene catalysts by leveraging its breakthrough ActivCat™ technology for polyolefin production. The company will also leverage its 50+ years of production experience in metal organics to supply High Purity Metal Organics (HPMOs) such as TMG to the High Brightness LED (HBLED) market.
Mark Rohr, Albemarle's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "This strategic investment signifies our commitment to expand our footprint in regions that provide substantial growth opportunities for Albemarle and its customers. By providing local manufacturing and Albemarle's renowned excellence in technical service and support, we are giving our customers a competitive advantage in a growing market. We thank the governor of Jeollanam-do province and the mayor of Yeosu city for their support and advice as we undertake this important project."
The Yeosu site will be capable of producing mPO catalyst lab samples followed by pilot samples for qualification trials with local customers this year. Intermediate commercial operations will begin in mid-2011, with the commercial facility being fully operational in 2012. The site will produce finished catalysts, activators like methylaluminoxane (MAO) and organoborons, as well as metallocene components. The site will also purify metal organics, creating a portfolio of HPMOs for electronic applications. TMG production will begin in early 2011, with other HPMOs phased into the project throughout 2011.
''We are excited to announce the quick startup of this new facility and look forward to meeting our Asian customers' current needs through local supply in both the mPO industry as well as the HBLED industry. The premier location of this new manufacturing site will give Albemarle a strong competitive advantage in Asia Pacific and secures our position as the global leader for metallocene Polyolefins catalysts," said Amy Motto, Division Vice President, Polyolefin and Chemical Catalysts."