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Emirates Global Aluminium’s (EGA) Al Taweelah alumina refinery, US$3bn new plant set to be a critical part of the UAE’s growing aluminium industry, reached a significant construction milestone last week
Construction of the Al Taweelah alumina refinery is expected to be complete in Q1 2018. The refinery will be capable of producing two million tonnes per year of alumina, approximately three-quarters of the alumina needs of the Al Taweelah smelter.
EGA’s executive vice-president upstream Yousuf Bastaki was joined by Finnish Ambassador Riitta Swan and Markku Teräsvasara, CEO of Finland-headquartered global minerals and metals technology company Outotec, to celebrate the 60 per cent completion of the Calciners section of the project. The overall completion of the project is currently at 37 per cent.
The Al Taweelah alumina refinery is currently one of the largest industrial construction sites in the UAE, with 5,900 people working on site. Peak construction manpower is expected to be more than 10,000. EGA is the largest industrial company in the UAE outside the oil industry.
According to reports, the refinery is only the second to be built in the Middle East, and sees the UAE expanding upstream in the aluminium value chain. The plant will refine bauxite ore into alumina, the feedstock for aluminium smelters. Currently, the UAE relies on third party imports for all of its alumina needs, which amount to close to five million tonnes per year.
The Al Taweelah alumina refinery is located next to EGA’s Al Taweelah smelter in the Khalifa Industrial Zone in Abu Dhabi (KIZAD). Constructing the alumina refinery is the biggest project in the UAE’s aluminium industry since the construction of the Al Taweelah smelter itself.
As part of preparations for the start-up of the Al Taweelah alumina refinery, 15 Emirati engineers and technicians are expected in January to begin development secondments at Ma’aden in Saudi Arabia, the only operational alumina refinery in the region. Around five million tonnes of bauxite ore will be imported each year from Guinea to feed the Al Taweelah alumina refinery.
Abdulla Kalban, EGA’s managing director, said, “We are creating an aluminium value chain for the UAE, and our partners such as Guinea, that stretches around the world. Al Taweelah alumina refinery is an important link in that chain. It creates jobs, economic opportunity and scope for further industrial development both at home and abroad. I am pleased that the project, and Outotec’s part in it, is proceeding so well.”
Bastaki added, “The Al Taweelah alumina refinery is a major investment by EGA in the future of the UAE’s aluminium industry. Producing alumina in Abu Dhabi, and mining bauxite in Guinea, will enable us to manage the cost of this important resource. That means the potential of the aluminium industry to contribute to the growth of our economy will be secured.”
EGA is also set to begin work in an inland area of KIZAD on a storage site for bauxite residue, which is a by-product of refining bauxite into alumina.
The bauxite residue will be stored in a dry form in this dedicated and carefully-managed site approximately 30km from the coast.