EGA and VITO to intensify research on the potential use of industrial by-product for construction applications

Success could lead to bauxite residue replacing some imported construction materials, including sand and clay-based products

EGA and VITO to intensify research

EGA and VITO to intensify research

Emirates Global Aluminium, the largest industrial company in the United Arab Emirates outside oil and gas, will intensify research partnership with the European research and technology organisation, VITO NV. The partnership aims to find uses for bauxite residue by the UAE construction industry by further developing two of the potential applications identified in the first phase of the project.

EGA and VITO have been working together on research into the large-scale use of bauxite residue in construction materials since 2017. VITO will continue to work closely with experts at the University of Leuven in Belgium on this research.

The first of the new studies will investigate the potential for bauxite residue to be used for constructing road foundations, replacing materials such as sand. Most naturally-occurring sand in the UAE is unsuitable for road-base, meaning much of the sand used for road construction is imported.

The second study will assess whether bauxite residue can replace imported clay-based light weight aggregates, which are used to make light weight concrete as well as sound and heat insulating blocks. If successful, this could create a new industry based on locally available materials and substantially reduce the UAE’s reliance on these imported construction products.

Dr Ali Alzarouni, EGA’s Executive Vice President Midstream said: “We are now moving into the next stage of this important research on the use of bauxite residue, with detailed work on specific potential applications in construction. Finding economically-viable uses for bauxite residue is a global challenge. We are mindful of the scale of the task, but success here could be a breakthrough for our entire industry.”

Bauxite residue is a by-product of alumina refining - the process of turning bauxite ore into alumina, which is the feedstock for aluminium smelters. EGA is constructing the first alumina refinery in the UAE next to its Al Taweelah smelter in Abu Dhabi.

Although for decades academic research has been conducted on potential uses, most bauxite residue produced worldwide is still stored indefinitely as waste. Industry experts estimate that at least 150 million tonnes of bauxite residue is produced worldwide each year and less than two percent of this is currently put to productive use.

Whilst new productive uses for bauxite residue are developed, EGA will operate a dedicated bauxite residue storage site in line with current world-class best practice, about 30 kilometres inland from the coast in Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi.

When the Al Taweelah alumina refinery starts production, bauxite residue will be washed, pressed into a dry cake, and transported to the area for permanent managed storage. The site will eventually be covered and used for other industrial purposes.

EGA is also working with The University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences to investigate combining bauxite residue with agricultural and domestic wastes to create a soil for greening and other uses in the UAE.


Contacts at EGA:
Simon Buerk
056 3111 536
Fatima Al Mutawa
050 327 7545

About EGA
Emirates Global Aluminium is equally-owned by Mubadala Investment Company of Abu Dhabi and the Investment Corporation of Dubai.

It is the largest industrial company in the United Arab Emirates outside the oil and gas industry, and the largest company jointly owned by the two Emirates.

EGA’s aluminium is the second largest made-in-the UAE export after oil and gas. In 2017, EGA produced 2.6 million tonnes of cast metal. EGA is the only UAE producer and makes the UAE the fifth largest aluminium producing nation in the world.

EGA has more than 350 customers in over 60 countries. About 80 per cent of EGA’s production is value added products, one of the highest proportions of any aluminium company in the world.

EGA’s aluminium is primarily used in the construction, automotive, packaging, aerospace and electronics industries.

Over 10 per cent of EGA’s production is sold in the UAE to around 26 downstream aluminium companies that make products with EGA’s aluminium. The growing broader aluminium sector in the UAE supports 60,950 jobs.

EGA itself employs over 7,000 of these people including almost 1,200 UAE Nationals.

EGA has focused on technology development for over 25 years. EGA has used its own technology for every smelter expansion since the 1990s and has retrofitted all its older production lines. In 2016 EGA became the first UAE industrial company to licence its core industrial process technology internationally.

As a corporate citizen of the UAE, Emirates Global Aluminium aspires in all its operations to be measured amongst the world’s leading metals and mining companies in meeting its environmental and social responsibilities.

In 2017, EGA became the first Middle East headquartered company to join the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative, a global programme to foster greater sustainability and transparency in the aluminium industry.

EGA was formed in 2014 through the merger of Dubai Aluminium and Emirates Aluminium.

DUBAL’s Jebel Ali aluminium smelter began production in 1979. At almost five square kilometres, EGA’s Jebel Ali site is five times bigger than Dubai Mall.

EMAL started production in 2009 and its Al Taweelah aluminium smelter was the largest single-site aluminium smelter in the world when completed. EGA’s Al Taweelah site is five times bigger than Al Maryah Island at six square kilometres.

EGA has its own power stations at both sites, producing electricity to meet its needs. EGA’s electricity generation capacity is 5,450 megawatts, making EGA the third largest electricity generator in the UAE after the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority.

EGA also produces water through desalination units at its power plants. In addition to meeting its own water requirements, EGA supplies 1.5 per cent of the water needs of Dubai as well as commercial water customers and bottlers.

Today EGA is expanding upstream and internationally to secure the natural resources the UAE’s aluminium industry needs and create new revenue streams.

EGA’s wholly-owned subsidiary Guinea Alumina Corporation is building a bauxite mine and associated export infrastructure in the Republic of Guinea in West Africa, in one of the largest greenfield investments in that country in over 40 years.

In the UAE, EGA is building the country’s first alumina refinery at Al Taweelah. The project will reduce the UAE’s dependence on imported alumina and supply 75 per cent of the Al Taweelah smelter’s needs.

For more information on EGA please visit

About VITO

VITO is a leading international research and consultancy centre established in Mol, Belgium. VITO employs over 840 highly qualified staff members that develop knowledge and technological innovations to facilitate the transition to a more sustainable society. VITO is active in the fields of materials, energy, chemistry, health technology and land use. 

For more information on VITO, please visit 

© Press Release 2019

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