AES Semigas


12 May 2022

5N Plus partners with Rio Tinto for domestic supply of tellurium

Specialty semiconductor and performance materials producer 5N Plus Inc of Montreal, Québec, Canada has reached a commercial agreement with Rio Tinto to refine the tellurium to be produced at global mining group Rio Tinto’s Kennecott copper operation in Utah.

In addition to many other elements refined and transformed by 5N Plus, tellurium is considered to be a critical mineral by the Canadian and US governments due to its importance to the economy and national security.

The tellurium will be refined at the 5N Plus’ Montreal facility in Quebec, and used primarily in the manufacturing of cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin‐film photovoltaic (PV) modules by First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA under an existing semiconductor supply agreement between First Solar and 5N Plus. 5N Plus has been a key supplier to First Solar since 2007. The tellurium will also be used to manufacture ultra-high-purity semiconductor substrates at 5N Plus’ facility in St. George, Utah, USA to serve clients in the security and medical imaging markets.

“Our intention is to continue to pursue such strategic partnerships for the sourcing and refining of critical minerals in North America to the benefit of the critical industries we serve,” says 5N Plus’ president & CEO Gervais Jacques.

“This agreement with 5N Plus is an important step towards securing a North American supply chain of critical minerals to support the clean energy transition,” says Clayton Walker, chief operating officer of Rio Tinto Copper. “We are proud to deliver a new supply source of tellurium for the manufacturing of solar panels and other high-tech equipment, in addition to our primary copper production,” he adds.

“Our ability to refine additional tellurium for applications in the renewable energy industry is made possible by our investment to expand the capacity of our Montreal campus,” notes Jacques. “Coupled with our new partnership with Rio Tinto, this allows us to accelerate our semiconductor development and manufacturing activities in North America and to further leverage our globally recognized expertise in the transformation of mining and metallurgical by-products into high-purity value-added critical minerals.”

In June 2021, 5N Plus announced a major investment in its Montreal campus to expand the development and manufacturing of high-purity tellurium-bearing II-VI semiconductor compounds and substrates, essential components for several critical industries (including renewable energy). The project is expected to be completed by mid-2022.

See related item:

5N Plus secures multi-year supply contracts with First Solar

Tags: 5N Plus First Solar CdTe