|20 November, 2019

GCC aluminium industry 'will continue to grow'

The total production of the primary aluminium smelters in GCC are expected to exceed 6 million tonne in 2020

Image used for illustrative purpose. Warehouse worker checking stacked aluminum ingots aluminum.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Warehouse worker checking stacked aluminum ingots aluminum.

Getty Images/Monty Rakusen

The GCC aluminium industry will continue to grow despite the current economic challenges being faced by the global aluminium industry noted leading aluminium producers and manufacturers gathered at the ongoing 23rd edition of the Arab International Aluminium Conference (Arabal) 2019, in Bahrain.

The event which opened on November 19 will conclude tomorrow (November 21) at the Gulf Hotel.

Held under the patronage of HRH Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, it is hosted by Alba, on course to become the largest aluminium smelter in the world.

Delivering the opening keynote, Alba’s chairman Shaikh Daij bin Salman Al Khalifa said the purpose of the event is to discuss current issues in the aluminium sector and also explore investment opportunities.

The industry though leaders said that the GCC smelters, over the last few decades, have arisen as an industrial powerhouse on the global aluminium map as well as contributed greatly to their respective national economies.

According to the Gulf Aluminium Council (GAC), the total production of the primary aluminium smelters in GCC are expected to exceed 6 million tonne in 2020.

Moreover, the GCC smelters are amongst the technically most advanced, environmentally clean and low cost producers in the world, proving that GCC smelters are at the forefront of sustainable aluminium production.

In a session ‘impact of current economic challenges on the aluminium industry’, Ali Al-Baqali, acting chief executive officer, Alba said that the company has almost completed Line 6 Expansion, which will add 50 per cent capacity to Alba, next year.

Starting-out as a 120,000 metric tonne per annum (mtpa) smelter in 1971, Alba’s production for 2018 stood at plus-1 million metric tonnes. This year it produced 135,000 mtpa and next year it will be producing 1.5 mtpa, to become the largest aluminium smelter outside China.

“The growth story will continue not only in Alba but other GCC smelters as well due to the competitive advantage we have in terms of low cost producers; geographical location and a common culture,” he added.

As of October 31, Line 6 Smelter’s Overall Progress exceeded 99 per cent. Power Station 5 & Power Distribution System Overall Progress exceeded 98 per cent and by over 99 per cent respectively.

Line 6 Expansion Project will be transformational for Bahrain as it will significantly boost employment opportunities for Bahrainis at both Alba and the local downstream market.

According to him, about 500 graduates have been employed by the smelter.

The UAE-based Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), which currently produces about 10 per cent of global aluminium production, will continue to play a very active role in the aluminium industry’s growth in the region, Dr Ali Alzarouni, executive vice president, Midstream, EGA said.

“At EGA we are not only focusing on production growth but also improving cost efficiencies to make us one of the most competitive producers,” he added.

The company, which completes 40 years this year, has already upgraded its technology and is getting 20 per cent higher productivity and 17 per cent less energy consumption as a result of the new technology.

Going forward, Dr Alzarouni said that the company is hoping to make technology breakthrough soon. “If you want to control costs, this is the future,” he said referring to automation and digitisation in the aluminium industry.

Basim AlSaie, chairman of the Bahrain-based Gulf Aluminium Rolling Mill Company (Garmco), called on the kingdom’s aluminium industry to capitalise on the growing market for aluminium by focusing on the growth of the downstream industry.

“We want to quadraple our aluminium exports in 10 years. We want to work collectively with Alba, which is the main supplier. We want to utilise the benefit of having Alba in Bahrain and maximise the opportunities,” he said on the sidelines of the conference.

According to AlSaie, Garmco, which filed a voluntary petition for reorganisation early this year, is a stable company today as it is trying to start its restructuring programme.

“We have a clear focus on year 2020 with certain programmes we want to do; certain important capex to boost efficiency, automation and productivity in the company with the hope of making our products competitive,” he added.

The company plans to make a foray into recycled aluminium by launching `green aluminium products’, next year.

“We are also trying to maximise the utilisation of our state-of-the-art smelter facility where we are going to produce what we call green aluminium which is very important for our users,” he added.

Emerging as a global platform for the world aluminium industry leaders, the two-day conference, which is being held under the theme ‘Shaping the Future of Aluminium in the Arab Region’, has attracted more than 400 delegates from the whole spectrum of the aluminium industry (upstream, midstream and downstream).

Over 35 speakers and experts from leading aluminium organisations, including GE, International Aluminium Institute, CRU, Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), Fastmarkets and LME, Aluminium Stewardship Initiative amongst others are attending the event, it stated. – TradeArabia News Service

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