Their Kopperaa AS company will be starting up a facility this week to deliver carbon-based materials to the smelting industry, with Elkem as a partner.
Located on the former Elkem Meraker site, the new plant will produce taphole paste, repair paste and grout as well as other specialist products for the smelting sector. The business concept is to tailor-make products for Norwegian and ultimately Scandinavian customers, president Ivar Mansæterbak explains enthusiastically.
“We believe this business is viable. The commercial contracts aren’t in place, but we can see there’s a market for our products.”
He reports positive feedback from potential clients. “Elkem has made a big contribution to allowing us to achieve this start-up here in Kopperå.”
Together with Meråker local authority and four other investors, he and colleagues John Helge Lillevold and Thor Sønstelien have financed the actual plant.
“Elkem Salten and Elkem Thamshavn will be testing and quality assuring the pastes we deliver,” Mr Mansæterbak explains.
A former union official and furnace worker at Elkem Meraker, he and his two partners represent 75 years of experience in Elkem between them. Mr Lillevold was the manager for microsilica at the former plant, while Mr Sønstelien is a raw materials expert.
Kopperaa’s plant also has a history. It was moved to its present location from Sørfold Industriservice, which delivered carbon-based pastes to Elkem facilities from 1999 to 2004.
The segment Kopperaa wants to eat into represents a market of about 2 500-3 000 tonnes per annum, and the goal is to capture two-thirds of this – in other words, 1 500-2 000 tonnes.
Asked whether his business will conflict with Elkem Carbon, Mr Mansæterbak explains:
“Our products will be complementary to Elkem Carbon's.
“Everything’s in place to achieve success, we have many good helpers out there who want us to make a go of this.”