EGA starts production at UAE’s first alumina refinery in major milestone for industrial sector
Al Taweelah alumina refinery is a strategic growth project for UAE aluminium giant, expands EGA’s business upstream in the aluminium value chain, and its start-up heralds alumina refining as a new industrial activity for the UAE.
~$3.3 billion facility expected to produce approximately 2 million tonnes of alumina per year once full ramp up achieved, replacing some imports
United Arab Emirates: Emirates Global Aluminium, the largest industrial company in the United Arab Emirates outside oil and gas, today announced the start-up of Al Taweelah alumina refinery, a strategic growth project that expands the industrial giant’s business upstream in the aluminium value chain.
Alumina is the feedstock for aluminium smelters and is refined from bauxite ore. Once full ramp up is achieved, Al Taweelah alumina refinery is expected to produce some two million tonnes of alumina per year, replacing some imports and securing EGA’s competitive supply of this vital raw material. The UAE currently imports all the alumina it needs.
Al Taweelah alumina refinery cost approximately $3.3 billion to develop and is located in Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi. It is the first alumina refinery in the UAE and its start-up marks the beginning of alumina refining as a new industrial activity in the country.
Abdulla Kalban, EGA’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer said: “The start-up of Al Taweelah alumina refinery is transformative for EGA and the first of two major milestones this year as we complete our strategic growth projects upstream in the aluminium value chain. Al Taweelah alumina refinery, and our bauxite mining project in Guinea where construction continues, secure our supply of raw materials at competitive prices and will strengthen EGA’s business for decades ahead. I want to thank every colleague who played a role in the safe and efficient completion of this important project.”
Construction of Al Taweelah alumina refinery took 72 million hours of work – the equivalent of one person working for more than 25,000 years. The construction workforce peaked at 11,542 people.
Some 280 safety professionals managed onsite safety processes and systems. The total recordable incident frequency rate during construction of Al Taweelah alumina refinery was less than 10 per cent of that in heavy industrial construction in the United States in 2017 (according to US Bureau of Labour Statistics’ published figures). There were zero fatalities.
Al Taweelah alumina refinery is expected to convert some five million tonnes of bauxite into alumina per year once full ramp-up is achieved. Bauxite for the project will be imported from Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée in the Republic of Guinea in West Africa.
EGA is also building a bauxite mine and export facilities in the Republic of Guinea in another strategic growth project upstream. First bauxite exports are expected during the second half of this year and will be sold to customers around the world.
Preparations to operate Al Taweelah alumina refinery began in October 2013, before construction started, and took 500,000 hours of work to complete. Some 585 people work in the operations team including alumina refining veterans from countries from Australia to Jamaica and 66 UAE Nationals developed by EGA for their roles, including with training at the region’s only other alumina refinery in Saudi Arabia.
The plant is managed from a sophisticated control room which has three times the instrumentation of a modern airliner.
Al Taweelah alumina refinery covers an area equivalent to 200 football fields. Equipment and supplies were sourced from 21 countries.
Some 52,000 tonnes of steel were used during construction, enough to build seven Eiffel Towers. The new plant contains 9,500 instruments, 222 separate tanks, enough piping to stretch from Abu Dhabi to Muscat, and enough cabling to reach from Abu Dhabi to Cairo.
More than 20 major contracting companies worked on the project and 80 per cent of the contracts by value were awarded to UAE-registered companies.