x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Output is being boosted at Emirates Aluminium thanks to a third production line coming onstream three months ahead of schedule.

The expansion of Emal is part of Abu Dhabi's plan to diversify the economy and reduce its dependence on oil and gas. Jaime Puebla / The National
The expansion of Emal is part of Abu Dhabi's plan to diversify the economy and reduce its dependence on oil and gas. Jaime Puebla / The National

Emirates Aluminium, known as Emal, took another step towards becoming the world’s biggest single site aluminium smelter yesterday as its third production line made its first hot metal.

Completed three months ahead of schedule, the line is part of Emal’s Phase II expansion project, which will boost production to 1.3 million tonnes of aluminium per year from 800,000 tonnes per year at present. The plant will reach full capacity next May.

The expansion of Emal is part of the Abu Dhabi Government’s 2030 plan to diversify the economy and reduce its dependence on oil and gas. The US$6 billion Phase I expansion ran from 2007 to 2011. On its completion, Emal decided to almost double its annual production by expanding for a second time.

The metal produced by Emal contributed 0.4 per cent to the UAE’s GDP in 2012 and 2013. As many as 1,000 additional jobs will be created by the end of the Phase II expansion, in addition to the 2,000 jobs that already exist.

“Reaching first hot metal safer, faster and better not only exceeds the successes achieved in Phase I, but highlights the ability of Emirati excellence to set new industry standards on a global scale,” said Emal’s president and chief executive Saeed Fadhel Al Mazrooei.

Emal was able to build the third pipeline in record time because the company was careful to draw on “lessons learnt” during the Phase 1, said Yousuf Bastaki, an Emal vice president.

Total investment in Phase II is $4.5bn, but the project is also forecast to come in under budget.

Emal has drawn up plans for a Phase III expansion, although it has not yet been given any go-ahead to do so.

“We have the land capacity and a template from our side, but it is not yet something we have discussed with shareholders,” Mr Bastaki said.” The decision to build depends on a decision for our leaders to take.”

Emal currently supplies more than 150 customers around the globe. Mr Bastaki said Emal had signed contracts with an industrial manufacturer and with a firm that makes aluminium rods and extrusion billets in the Emirates.

“Emal is very much committed to support such industries as part of our vision and to support the 2030 Abu Dhabi economic vision,” he said.

Emal is the first anchor tenant of the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad) in Taweelah and has the key function of attracting downstream industry to its cluster. The site currently includes a 2,000 megawatts power plant, which will increase to about 3,000 MW by the start of 2014, Mr Bastaki said.

Emal merged with Dubai Aluminium in June to create Emirates Global Aluminium, a company owned in equal parts by Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

As well as having the largest single site production capacity, Emal also has, at 1.7 kilometres, the longest potline, a row of electrolytic cells for reducing certain metals, in the world.

lgutcher@thenational.ae