Emirates Global Aluminium’s new Al Taweelah alumina refinery has achieved production at nameplate capacity in June.
This milestone in the ramp-up of the alumina refinery to full nameplate capacity was achieved just 14 months after alumina production began in April last year. “We are now focused on the next milestone, which is three consecutive months of production at nameplate capacity,” said Zaher Alhabtari, executive VP Upstream and Capital Projects at EGA.
Nameplate capacity of 2 m tonnes of alumina
The Al Taweelah refinery cost some USD3.3bn to build, and is the first alumina refinery in the UAE. The nameplate capacity of the plant is some 2 m tonnes of alumina per year, enough to meet 40 % of EGA’s alumina needs. The development of the alumina refinery was part of EGA’s strategy to make the company an integrated global aluminium giant. EGA began production at its bauxite mining and export subsidiary, Guinea Alumina Corp., in August last year.
The Al Taweelah refinery employs 589 people, including experts recruited from countries from Jamaica to Australia. Alumina refineries convert bauxite to alumina in a four-step process which in parts exceeds 1,000 °C and 100 times atmospheric pressure. It can take several years or more for new alumina refineries to reach a month of sustained production at design capacity at each step of the process.
EGA’s bauxite imports are shipped by Capesize vessels, which are amongst the world’s largest. EGA’s long-term requirement to bring these ships to its berth at Khalifa Port enabled Abu Dhabi Ports to invest in deepening the approaches, making it the first port in the Gulf able to handle ships of this size including container vessels.