Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), the largest industrial company in the UAE outside oil and gas, has received the first shipment of caustic soda for its under-construction Al Taweelah alumina refinery, marking a major milestone in the project development, a media report said.
Caustic soda and bauxite are the two most important raw materials in alumina refining. Stocks of these materials are initially required for the carefully-planned sequential commissioning of Al Taweelah alumina refinery, reported Emirates news agency Wam.
EGA began importing bauxite in June. EGA has also begun stockpiling hydrate, another raw material required to commission Al Taweelah alumina refinery.
Alumina is the feedstock for aluminium smelters. Once full ramp-up is achieved, Al Taweelah alumina refinery is expected to meet some 40 per cent of EGA’s alumina requirements. The UAE currently imports all the alumina it needs.
Al Taweelah alumina refinery is the first to be built in the UAE and only the second in the Middle East.
First alumina from Al Taweelah alumina refinery is expected during the first half of 2019.
Abdulla Kalban, managing director and chief executive officer of EGA, said: "Whilst construction continues in many areas of Al Taweelah alumina refinery, we are steadily moving into commissioning completed equipment and sections. Importing the first of these raw materials is an important milestone in this immense effort to develop alumina refining as a new industrial activity in the UAE."
More than 10,000 people are currently working on Al Taweelah alumina refinery, which has a total budgeted project cost of approximately $3.3 billion.
Al Taweelah alumina refinery covers an area equivalent to 200 football fields, and contains enough steel to build seven Eiffel Towers. The new plant contains more than 430 km of piping and almost 2,500 km of cabling.
There are some 450 different pumps at Al Taweelah alumina refinery, and 144 tanks that together are equivalent in volume to 128 Olympic-size swimming pools.
Once full ramp-up is achieved, Al Taweelah alumina refinery is expected to produce some two million tonnes of alumina per year. This will require some five million tonnes of bauxite each year, which will be imported from the Republic of Guinea in West Africa.
The plant will also require some 130,000 tonnes of caustic soda each year, which will initially be imported.
Last year, EGA signed a long term caustic soda supply agreement with Shaheen Chem Investments LLC, which intends to build a chemicals complex near EGA’s operations in Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi. Once built and ramped-up, Shaheen’s plant will meet all EGA’s caustic soda needs.
EGA, which has operated aluminium smelters in the UAE for almost 40 years, is expanding upstream in the aluminium value chain and internationally to secure the natural resources that the UAE’s aluminium industry needs and create new revenue streams.
EGA is also building a bauxite mine and associated export facilities in Guinea. First bauxite exports from the Guinea Alumina Corporation project are expected during the second half of 2019. GAC is one of the largest greenfield investments in Guinea in the last 40 years and has a total budgeted project cost of approximately $1.4 billion.
GAC’s bauxite will be exported to customers around the world.
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