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Hoku Materials completes test phases

Hoku Materials, a provider of raw materials for the solar energy market, has started pilot production of polysilicon at a plant in Pocatello. Construction of the plant had been held up by financing problems.

“Commencement of this pilot production run marks the beginning of our plant ramp-up,” Scott Paul, president and CEO of Hoku Materials’ parent company Hoku Corp. said on April 28.

Shares of Hoku Corp. rose by 13 cents, or 5.2 percent, to $2.61 in after-hours trading.

Hoku struggled to raise funds to complete the 4,000 metric-ton capacity, $390 million facility. In March, it finally received the second installment of a total $50 million loan from majority owner Tianwei New Energy Holdings Co. of China to finance construction after a two-week delay pending approval from the Chinese government.

Hoku also received $4 million in prepayments in March from Solarfun Power Hong Kong Ltd. to supply polysilicon.

Last July, Hoku slowed construction at the plant to preserve cash while it sought to raise capital. The builder, JH Kelly, filed a lien against it for $12 million in past due payments.

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