Timminco Won’t Face Questions at Silicon Industry Conference
Timminco Limited’s (TSX: TIM $29.70) Becancour Silicon subsidiary and Q-Cells AG (XETRA: QCE $70.50) have stopped Manuel P. Asensio from attending an industry conference where a Becancour executive is scheduled to speak on Timminco’s UMG purification process. The “Silicon for the Chemical and Solar Industry Conference” is scheduled for June 23rd to June 26th in Oslo, Norway. Asensio had registered for the conference to hear the Becancour presentation, and to ask questions on what he finds inconsistent in Becancour’s and Timminco’s claims of being able to purify metallurgical grade silicon in larger quantities and more cheaply than the technological and business leaders in the field.
Rather than face questions, Becancour and Q-Cells threatened to withdraw from the conference unless Asensio was barred from attending. On late Friday, June 20th, the last business day before the conference was set to start, Asensio received an email from Professor Oye, stating, “I have been informed by Becancour Silicon Inc. that we have to make a choice between you attending the conference and Becancour Silicon Inc., GK Kropfmuhl and Q-Cells. As these companies have been long-time supporters of the conference, I have to inform you regretfully that you cannot attent [sic] the conference.” See the full text attached.
Oye failed to address the implications of a university professor being more concerned with funding than with maintaining a standard of free discourse and debate on scientific evidence. Oye also happens to be a partner in Solar Technology Research Corporation, a potential UMG supplier, which may pose a conflict of interest.
Asensio’s response to Oye is attached, mentioning Oye’s involvement in Solar Technology Research Corporation, along with further details on the management of Timminco, GK Kropfmuhl, and Q-Cells.
It is Asensio’s view that Timminco and its Becancour subsidiary have been disingenuous in their claims of having a superior method to purify metallurgical silicon. Rather than using the conference as an opportunity to address skepticism and to validate their claims with evidence, the Becancour presenters, it seems, prefer to avoid questions and discussion by threatening funding withdrawals.
What kind of company does not want to substantiate its claims of innovation? And what kind of company is willing to manipulate the questions it will be asked at an industry conference, which should by nature be a forum for free and open discussion?