State-owned Batan Teknologi is being told to boost production of a radioisotope used by hospitals by more than 20-fold in order to grab a piece of the world market, State Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan has said.
The company produces the molybdenum-99 fission radioisotope, called MO99. It is used in hospital equipment that is used to detect cancer.
“Batan Teknologi is being pushed to raise its production capacity to 900 Cori cycles [a unit of measurement] per week, from the current 40 Cori cycles,” Dahlan said. “Batan must be capable to grab a piece of the world’s isotope market.”
He said demand for M099 was high, including in China. “When I met with the Chinese trade minister, he expressed their intention to import more radioisotopes from Indonesia,” Dahlan said, referring to his recent visit to China with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Dahlan said that when he returned from the trip, he immediately went to Batan to meet with executives and discuss the company’s production capacity.
He said that to increase its production, Batan would need about Rp 100 billion ($11 million) in investment, including to repair and expand its facilities.
Increasing Batan’s production and export of the radioisotopes could bring in annual revenues of about Rp 1 trillion to Rp 1.5 trillion. That would be a huge jump in the Rp 50 billion it now makes each year from exports.
Batan export a small amount of radioisotopes to Malaysia, the Philippines and Bangladesh.
“We need to raise the exports,” Dahlan said. “[China] itself has committed to order up to 300 Cori cycles per week. Japan is currently looking at imports of about 1,000 Cori per week.”
He said he hoped Batan could begin larger scale exports beginning on Aug. 1 and reach full export capacity of about 900 Cori cycles per week early in 2013.
Batan, he said, could also hire 25 people, increasing its staff to 115.
“Global radioisotope production capacity in the world has fallen recently because many of the nuclear reactors are already old and can no longer be used. Batan, with a relatively young reactor, has the opportunity to be the biggest player in the radioisotope market,” Dahlan said.
Investor Daily, with additional reporting from Antara