Canada-based high purity alumina (HPA) producer Orbite Technologies has been acquired by AEM Canada Group, in line with a Superior Court of Québec vesting order issued on March 30, 2020. Orbite Technologies specialized in the production of high purity minerals and had been kept under the shielding umbrella of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act since April 2017.
AEM Canada Group will be taking control of Orbite’s Cap-Chat process plant, the company’s technical development center based in Laval, and a total of 41 patents associated with the process technology developed for Orbite’s Cap-Chat process plant.
Orbite’s Cap-Chat plant has advanced production capabilities of HPA at 5N (99.999%) purity and is said to be at an equally advanced stage to develop its production process further. The company is said to be among few global producers that are capable of manufacturing such a high-quality product grade. The highly-regarded HPA at 5N product has been touted to be in increasing demand owing to its application in the evolving lithium-ion battery sector for the electric vehicle market.
The move is seen as fulfilling the objective of low-cost HPA production through the use of alternative feedstock such as kaolin, which is already being probed with critical interest by several production companies. Currently, around 20 or so projects are being investigated by other producers as cost-cutting production measures. Among them, Australia-based Altech is already involved in the construction of a 4.5 ktpy manufacturing facility in Malaysia. Meanwhile, Pure Alumina and FYI Resources are actively working on projects in Australia that would invariably explore the possibilities of ramping up production volumes. Canada-based Polar Sapphire is capable of an annual production volume of 900tpy in its domestic facilities, with plans in place to further increase production by 1tpy this year.
The assets for Orbite Technologies were put up for sale in the market in July 2019. AEM Canada had successfully acquired a license to make use of Orbite’s processing technology in December 2019 and had since been actively negotiating an acquisition deal with Orbite concerning all of its market assets.
According to a Kansas City-based research firm, the global High Purity Alumina (HPA) Market is estimated to reach $4,592.6 Million by 2026; growing at a CAGR of 18.1% till 2026. The growing demand for LED lighting systems and LED displays is an influential factor that would propel the growth prospects of the market. Products that use LEDs are energy efficient and is driving the demand for high-purity alumina, which is used in the manufacturing of sapphire substrates. High-purity alumina is also used in other applications such as electronic substrates, hybrid vehicles, electronic screen backlighting, and semiconductors. However, growing concern towards environmental degradation and high production costs are some of the major restrictive factors for market growth. The development of production procedures and industry focus on cost-effective manufacturing methods would give rise to new market opportunities, with high initial investments made by the companies towards the technological up-gradation of existing processes.