Emirates Global Aluminium has entered the final stages of commissioning of what will be the UAE’s first alumina refinery.
The Al Taweelah alumina refinery has now begun hot water testing of the digestion section of the plant, with first production still on course for the first half of 2019.
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, and involves the heating of a slurry of crushed bauxite and caustic soda to 270ºC using steam.
Commissioning of the last process stage, calcination, was completed in December, and, earlier this month, EGA’s nearby Al Taweelah power plant started delivering steam to the 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,” the company said.
Abdulla Kalban, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer 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.”
Al Taweelah, which has a total budgeted project cost of approximately $3.3 billion, will be the first refinery in the UAE and only the second in the Middle East.
The company said: “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 Mt/y of alumina and meet 40% of EGA’s alumina requirements, replacing some imports.
Commissioning Al Taweelah alumina refinery requires more than 80,000 separate actions to be completed. The new plant contains some 9,500 instruments, 222 tanks, enough piping to stretch from Abu Dhabi to Muscat, and cabling that would reach from Abu Dhabi to Cairo.