Emirates Global Aluminium is to develop a project to manufacture silicon metal in the UAE.
The project aims to secure supplies of a key raw material for ‘premium aluminium’ and unlocking potential new industries in the UAE in line with the goals of Operation 300bn and Make it in the Emirates.
Silicon important not only for aluminium production
Silicon metal is added to aluminium during the casting process to create high-strength alloys required particularly in the automotive industry. Roughly a quarter of EGA’s production is foundry alloys, which are used to make vehicle parts.The UAE currently has no domestic silicon metal manufacturing capacity, and EGA is by far the largest importer of this material with an annual demand of around 60,000 t. Some 70% of the world’s silicon metal manufacturing capacity is located in China, with the electricity-intensive industry largely powered by coal.
Silicon metal is also an essential raw material for other industries, including silicones which are used in everything from adhesives to contact lenses, and high-purity silicon which is used to manufacture solar photovoltaics and semiconductors. The UAE is expected to become a significant market for solar photovoltaics with its ambitious goals to expand solar power generation capacity, including to meet EGA’s demand for cleaner energy. Domestic supply of silicon metal could create the opportunity for a local solar photovoltaics manufacturing value chain to develop.
Silicon facility secures domestic supply of a strategic material
EGA CEO Abdulnasser Bin Kalban said: “Developing a silicon metal manufacturing facility would secure our supply of a strategic raw material. Once we have met our own demand we could expand further, creating a new growth opportunity for our company while supporting the development of new local industries in line with the goals of Operation 300bn and Make it in the Emirates, and the global energy transition. We could begin construction of a silicon metal plant as soon as next year.”