Published February 21, 2018
The infamous United Silicon factory, that used to provide materials necessary for the construction of solar panels, is set to fire up its machinery once again in the next 18 to 20 months, Kjarninn reports.
Health or wealth
Grapevine has provided extensive reports on the factory, which was for months at the centre of a debate involving chemical pollution and health safety in Helguvík. United Silicon was declared bankrupt in January 2017 and was then temporarily closed last August for necessary upgrades and maintenance. The factory’s employees were ultimately let go in September.
As we reported last year, a research conducted by the municipality of Reykjanesbær, where the plant is located, showed that arsenic levels in the air around the plant were approximately 20 times the acceptable limits set by the Environment Agency of Iceland.
When the Environment Agency of Iceland finally decided to take concrete action last year, it issued an injunction stating that the factory furnaces shouldn’t be turned on until all the necessary upgrades are completed. According to Kjarninn, this could take up to 20 months and would require around 3 billion ISK, or 30 million USD.
What the future holds
Icelandic bank Arion Banki, the largest owner and creditor of United Silicon, has taken responsibility for running and managing the factory since it was declared bankrupt and it now considers the plant to be fully operational. The bank is therefore already looking for investors that could manage the factory in the future. So far, it has already found seven companies (all connected to the international silicon market) that are interested in taking on the project. The investors, however, are not willing to dismantle the plant as it was originally suggested; rather, they are only interested in running it in Iceland.
According to Kjarninn, creditors and shareholders have already had to write off large amounts of credit in the past year, with Arion Banki writing off about 4.8 billion ISK (48 million USD), but more institutions have lost a substantial amount of money following the shut down. Three pension funds in particular have registered a 90% loss when it comes to their United Silicon shares. All of the funds are operated by Arion Banki.