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Silicon fab explosion in Xinjiang threatens further poly shortage

With the solar industry already seeing prices rise because of a shortage of panel raw material polysilicon, an explosion yesterday at the factory of a silicon metal producer in Xinjiang could have further repercussions on supply. No casualties have been reported.

Reports have emerged of a fire and subsequent explosion at a silicon packaging workshop owned by Hoshine Silicon in the Shihezi Economic and Technological Development Zone of China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Local government officials reported a fire broke out at Hoshine’s ‘997 siloxane’ packaging facility at around noon yesterday.

pv magazine learned the accident was under control by 10.40 p.m., local time, last night after five fire-fighting units arrived at the scene.

Workers’ rights

pv magazine’s  UP Initiative is examining, this quarter, what solar and energy storage companies can do to lead by positive example when it comes to the workers, often far removed, involved in the production of their products and services. Supply chain traceability and polysilicon provenance are key topics.

Hoshine this morning said the incident had occurred at a unit which had a trial production line under operation and no casualties occurred as a result of the fire and explosion.

Local government environment department staff tested air conditions around the factory and found no toxic or otherwise harmful gas pollution at the scene, officials said last night.

The cause of the accident was said to be under investigation.

Sources said nearby businesses evacuated non-essential staff around half an hour after the fire started, with several nearby blocks subsequently sealed off by traffic control personnel.

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Hoshine Silicon’s LinkedIn page describes the polysilicon producer as “the largest silicon metal producer in the world with its own coal and thermoelectricity.”

In 2019, the company’s silicon metal output reached 560,000 metric tons and accounted for around 26% of the Chinese market and almost 17% of the global supply.

The factory unit affected by the fire is one of Hoshine’s two major manufacturing bases and an independent source claimed the explosion occurred in the 200,000-metric-ton-annual-capacity second phase of the production complex, with the adjacent, 390,000MT facility still operating at normal output.

Shortage

Although Hoshine this morning stressed production had not been affected by the incident, solar manufacturers already seeing input costs rise as a result of a polysilicon shortage, will be concerned at the potential closure of the fab for safety inspections, as it feeds downstream silicon manufacturers in Xinjiang including Xinte, Daqo, and GCL-Poly.

An anonymous source said: “It will be up to local government whether this accident will influence the market, [either by a] little or heav[ily].”

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Source: pv magazine