Emirates Aluminium (Emal) will decide in June whether to increase production to become the biggest single-site aluminium smelter in the world by 2013, says its top executive.
The decision is due after a study by the Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin Group into the viability of the second phase of the project, which would raise production to 1.5 million tonnes of aluminium a year, said Saeed al Mazrooei, the president and chief executive of Emal.
He was speaking yesterday on the sidelines of a ceremony marking the opening of phase one of the green-field smelter development at Al Taweelah in Abu Dhabi.
Under phase one, the project is on track to produce 750,000 tonnes of metal this year.
It intends to produce a further 50,000 tonnes, also under phase one, by next year.
"As the UAE's largest industrial mega-project outside of oil and gas, Emal is leading the way in diversification," said Mr al Mazrooei.
Emal was launched after a 50-50 US$5.7 billion (Dh20.93bn) joint venture deal between Dubai Aluminium (Dubal)and Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government. The smelter reached full production on the last working day of last year.
Emal is a central part of the UAE's plans to diversify its economy by investing in energy-intensive non-hydrocarbon businesses.
Mr al Mazrooei said he was hopeful aluminium prices would hold up on the back of higher oil prices. Aluminium for three-month delivery was trading at $2,694 a tonne on the London Metal Exchange yesterday.
The company's expansion plans involve adding about another 1,000 personnel to its existing 2,025 workforce by 2013.
It plans to invest Dh35 million in training Emiratis to ensure they account for 75 per cent of its management and 40 per cent of its other staff by 2015, said Mr al Mazrooei. About 27 per cent of Emal's management and 11 per cent of its workforce are nationals.
Mubadala officials yesterday declined to answer questions about the company's plans to buy a stake in Dubal.
Mubadala had offered to buy shares in Dubal under a plan to form a holding company including Emal, Dubal said last month.