from the October 2009 issue

First Israeli snow falls on Alpine resort

Israeli desalination company IDE Technologies said it aims to capture 5 percent of the global snowmaking market after its first machine producing man-made snow went into operation.

IDE, a 50:50 venture between fertiliser maker Israel Chemicals (ICL.TA: Quote, Profile, Research) and the Delek (DELKG.TA: Quote, Profile, Research) conglomerate, inaugurated the machine in the Austrian ski resort of Pitztal and plans to start running another in Zermatt in Switzerland in the coming weeks, it said on Tuesday.

Avshalom Felber, IDE's chief executive officer, said snowmaking was a $1 billion-a-year global industry.

"We identified significant economic and business potentials in expanding our operations in these sectors, making them one of IDE's key growth engines," he said. "We seek to capture 5 percent of the ... market."

IDE's systems, which cost $3 million, use Vacuum Ice Maker technology that the firm developed in the 1960s for seawater desalination in the desert resort of Eilat.

IDE said they can produce snow at the start of the season when temperatures are too high to use other machines.

Hans Rubatscher, manager of Pitztal, said the resort will be able to open slopes at lower altitudes earlier than usual. He said Austria's ski team would hold its first training session on the man-made snow next week.

The Alpine snowline may retreat by 350 meters by 2050, according to a report by Mueller's Institute for Leisure and Tourism, leaving a fifth of Swiss resorts without reliable snow.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report October 2009

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