Emirates Global Aluminium, the UAE's biggest industrial company outside the oil and gas sector, entered the final stages of commissioning for its Al Taweelah refinery. The first alumina production from the plant is expected in the first half of the year.
EGA has an “offtake” agreement with Compagnie des Bauxite de Guinee, under which the African company will supply about 5 million tonnes of bauxite ore annually to the UAE. The import will be stockpiled for conversion to aluminium in the 2 million-tonne-a year capacity Al Taweelah refinery in Abu Dhabi.
Alumina, which is the feedstock for aluminium smelters, is sourced from bauxite. EGA imports all the alumina it uses in aluminium production.
"We are making good progress with the complex process of commissioning the refinery," said Abdulla Kalban, managing director and chief executive of EGA.
“We are looking forward to beginning production and ramping up this project, which, along with our Guinea mine, will transform EGA into an integrated global aluminium producer.”
Commissioning is the detailed process of testing equipment and systems in a new plant before start-up.
The refinery has a total budgeted project cost of about $3.3 billion. It is the first such plant in the UAE and only the second in the Middle East. It is planned to meet 40 per cent of EGA’s alumina requirements, replacing some imports, and creating new revenue streams.
Base metals prices came under pressure last year because of ongoing global trade uncertainty. However, towards the end of the year aluminium was in short supply, pushing its prices up again.
Earlier this month, EGA’s nearby Al Taweelah power plant started delivering steam to the new refinery through connecting pipelines, further paving the way for its launch.
In December, the company said it was considering options to tap the international debt markets.