'Premier' Mississippi Silicon plant opens

Image credit: Thomas Wells / Daily Journal

Image credit: Thomas Wells / Daily Journal

BURNSVILLE — With half of the promised jobs in place, Mississippi Silicon is poised to hit its annual production capacity of silicon metal in just a few months.

The 174,000-square-foot facility, which opened a mere 21 months after breaking ground, is the first silicon metal production plant built in the U.S. in nearly four decades.

It now employs 100 workers, and by the end of the year that number should climb to 125. The goal of 200 workers should be reached “in the next several years.”

The jobs pay an average of $45,000 a year, officials said.

Ricardo Vicintin, the chairman of the Mississippi Silicon, said the plant will be “the premier silicon manufacturing facility in our industry.”

Vicintin also is CEO of Rima Industrial SA, one of the largest privately owned industrial companies in Brazil that supplies a range of metals and metal products worldwide. Rima owns an 80 percent stake in Mississippi Silicon, with the remainder owned by CleanTech LLC, a group of investors and financial partners.

Vicintin said the annual production capacity of 36,000 metric tons should be reached by March.

“We should be making 100 tons per day,” he said.

But the plant could have been built elsewhere. When Rima began scouting for a location, it first looked at its South American neighbors.

Paraguay and Uruguay were the initial choices, but the finalists turned out to be Quebec and Mississippi.

The Magnolia State was selected, Vicintin said, because of the location’s proximity to raw materials. The plant uses use coal, wood chips and quartz to make the silicon metal.

He also credited the state — which is provided $21.5 million for building construction and workforce training, as well as a $3.5 million loan to Tishomingo County for infrastructure improvements.

The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway also was another draw, Vicintin said.

“We have several customers that will be supplied by the waterway,” he said.

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