Emirates Global Aluminium has announced that commissioning of its new Al Taweelah alumina refinery has entered its final stages.
Commissioning is the detailed process of testing equipment and systems in a new plant before start-up. First production from Al Taweelah alumina refinery is expected during the first half of this year. EGA has now begun hot water testing of the digestion section of the alumina refinery. Digestion is the first of four successive stages of the Bayer process through which bauxite ore is refined into alumina, the feedstock for aluminium smelters. Digestion involves the heating of a slurry of crushed bauxite and caustic soda to 270 degrees centigrade using steam. Testing equipment and pipelines with hot water under high pressure simulates normal operating conditions and is the last step to ensure a facility is ready for process chemicals to be introduced.
Commissioning of the four major sections of Al Taweelah alumina refinery is being completed in a carefully-planned order, with the final stages of the Bayer process ready for production first. Commissioning of the last process stage, calcination, was completed in December.
Earlier this month, EGA’s nearby Al Taweelah power plant started delivering steam to the new alumina refinery through new connecting pipelines. Supplying steam from EGA’s existing power plant, which was built to provide electricity and steam for EGA’s Al Taweelah aluminium smelter, improves the alumina refinery’s overall energy efficiency.
Abdulla Kalban, managing director and CEO of EGA, said: “We are making good progress with the complex process of commissioning Al Taweelah alumina refinery, in line with the meticulous planning and preparations which began even before construction started. We are looking forward to beginning production and ramping-up of this project, which along with our Guinea mine will transform EGA into an integrated global aluminium producer.”
The Al Taweelah alumina refinery, which has a budgeted project cost of some USD3.3 billion, is the first in the UAE and only the second in the Middle East. EGA is also building a bauxite mine and export facilities in the Republic of Guinea, where first exports are expected during the second half of 2019. The Al Taweelah alumina refinery and the Guinea mining project expand EGA’s business upstream in the aluminium value chain and internationally. The projects will create new revenue streams for EGA and secure the competitive supply of natural resources the UAE’s aluminium industry needs.
Once production is fully ramped-up, Al Taweelah alumina refinery is expected to produce some 2 million tonnes of alumina per year and meet 40 percent of EGA’s alumina requirements, replacing some imports.