This excerpt taken from the TSL 20-F filed Jun 12, 2007.
Availability and Price of Polysilicon and Reclaimable Silicon Raw Materials
Reclaimable silicon raw materials are essential raw materials for our business. Our proprietary process technology allows us to use a higher proportion (currently approximately 80%) of reclaimable silicon raw materials in the production of monocrystalline silicon ingots. The costs of these reclaimable silicon raw materials have historically been significantly less than the costs of polysilicon. However, due to the solar power industrys growing demand for reclaimable silicon raw materials, prices of these reclaimable silicon raw materials are also increasing. We currently purchase reclaimable silicon raw materials from over 20 suppliers, including semiconductor manufacturers and silicon processing companies. Moreover, we are currently in discussions with other China-based semiconductor manufacturers to secure additional reclaimable silicon raw materials.
For the procurement of reclaimable raw materials, we enter into short-term contracts with terms of no more than six months each. The contracts provide for a fixed price and fixed amount and generally require prepayment prior to shipment. Most of the contracts give us the right to reject any shipment by our suppliers that does not meet our quality standards based on usability and resistivity of the materials. The contracts also specify a time period during which we can inspect the goods to ensure their quality.
Increases in the price of polysilicon have in the past increased our production costs and may impact our cost of revenues and net income. According to Solarbuzz, the average long-term supply contract price of polysilicon increased from approximately $35-$40 per kilogram delivered in 2005 to $50-$55 per kilogram delivered in 2006, and is expected to increase to $60-$65 per kilogram delivered in 2007. In addition, according to Solarbuzz, spot prices for incremental supplies of polysilicon, in some cases, reached $300 per kilogram in 2006. Based on our experience, we believe that the average price of polysilicon will continue to remain high or increase in the foreseeable future until a significant portion of polysilicon manufacturing capacity currently under construction becomes available. Any increase in demand from the semiconductor industry will exacerbate the shortage.
We purchase polysilicon mostly from silicon distributors and silicon manufacturers. For procurement of polysilicon, we enter into short-term, medium-term and long-term contracts. Our short-term contracts have terms of no more than one-year each. The contracts provide for a fixed price and fixed amount and generally require prepayment prior to shipment. Most of the contracts give us the right to reject any shipment by our suppliers that does not meet our quality standards based on grade levels, such as semiconductor grade or solar grade, of the polysilicon. The contracts also specify a time period during which we can inspect the goods to ensure their quality. Our medium-term contracts have terms ranging from one to three years, and our long-term contracts have terms ranging from five to ten years. These contracts generally have a fixed amount and fixed price subject to adjustments or variable price. These contracts generally require us to make an advance payment of a
certain negotiated amount. In 2009, some of our medium-term and long-term contracts will become increasingly important as the suppliers will be required to perform under their silicon wafer supply commitment to us. In January and February 2007, we entered into two long-term contracts for the procurement of polysilicon with Wacker Chemie AG and DC Chemical, respectively. The shipments under those contracts are expected to begin in 2009.
Given the current state of the industry, suppliers of polysilicon and reclaimable silicon raw materials typically require customers to make payments in advance of shipment. Our suppliers generally require us to make a prepayment at a certain percentage of the order value prior to shipping. As a result, the purchase of silicon raw materials has required, and will continue to require, us to make significant working capital commitments beyond the capital generated from our cash flows from operations. We are required to manage our borrowings and equity contributions to support our purchases of raw materials.