Emirates Global Aluminium starts operations of refinery in Abu Dhabi

EGA expects the refinery to produce about two million tonnes of alumina per year once fully operational

Emirates Global Aluminium passed 30 million tonnes of production since commencing operations in 1979. In April, it paid the highest dividend in the history of the company, AED 2 billion to shareholders. Courtesy Mubadala Investment Company
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Emirates Global Aluminium said operations have started at its $3.3 billion Al Taweelah alumina refinery in Abu Dhabi.

EGA expects the refinery to produce about two million tonnes of alumina per year once the facility is fully operational, replacing some imports and securing EGA’s supply of the raw material, the company said. Bauxite is the raw material refined into alumina, which is then used to manufacture aluminium, and the UAE currently imports all of its alumina requirements.

"Al Taweelah alumina refinery, and our bauxite mining project in Guinea where construction continues, secure our supply of raw materials at competitive prices and will strengthen EGA’s business for decades ahead," Abdulla Kalban, EGA’s managing director and chief executive, said.

EGA, the UAE’s biggest industrial company outside the oil and gas sector, built the alumina refinery and invested $1.4bn in a bauxite mining project in Guinea in line with a strategy to control all parts of the value chain, reduce costs and secure raw materials for its aluminium production. The first bauxite exports from the mine are expected to start during the second half of this year.

Al Taweelah alumina refinery is located in Khalifa Industrial Zone in Abu Dhabi, spanning 200 football fields, is the first alumina refinery in the UAE.

The refinery is expected to convert about five million tonnes of bauxite into alumina per year once it is fully operational. Bauxite for the project will be imported from Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée in the West African nation.

EGA expects the start of its alumina refinery and the bauxite mine in Guinea to help reduce raw material costs, which led to lower profitability in 2018.

Profit slid 64 per cent to Dh1.2 billion in 2018 due to higher raw material costs despite record production and a 14 per cent uptick in revenue to Dh23.5bn, which was mostly driven by higher sales volumes and prices, EGA said in March.

"This year once they are online, both the refinery and mine, you will start to see some of the cost savings and implications coming into our bottom line," Danny Dweik, the chief financial officer told The National in March. "But you will see the full potential of them in 2020 once both these projects are ramping up production."