Bahrain's Alba plans further production growth

Sixth production line could be completed by early 2015, says company's CEO
Bahrain's Alba plans further production growth
Aluminium Bahrain says its sixth production line could be completed by early 2015.
By Reuters
Sat 18 Feb 2012 10:30 AM

Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), which owns the world's fourth-largest aluminium smelter, has said its planned sixth production line could be completed by early 2015.

Feasibility studies are currently under way, with banking feasibility studies seen ready by 2013, Laurent Schmitt, the company's chief executive officer said in a conference call.

"First metal would be available in early 2015," Schmitt said.

The line is expected to add 400,000 tonnes annual capacity to Alba's current production of 881,000 tonnes a year, he said.

The company saw its fourth-quarter net income drop 84 percent due to unrealised derivatives, a statement released earlier on Friday said.

The firm reported a net income of $16m during the fourth quarter, compared to $103m a year earlier.

A one-time social cost of $16m was incurred during the period due to reconciliation packages for employees terminated as a result of the unrest that rocked Bahrain in early 2011.

"We are offering packages according to the number of years worked so they range from around one to two years of pay," said Tim Murray, the company's chief financial officer.

Unrest still looms large in Bahrain which was rocked by months of anti-government protests in early 2011.

Activists have said more than 120 protesters were wounded in clashes this week in a crackdown to stop majority Shi'ites breaking out of their neighbourhoods to stage protests one year after an uprising.

Murray said it was still unclear whether Bahrain would again significantly raise gas prices it sells to Alba.

The country's state-run energy supplier had raised the prices of gas it sells to Alba starting January 1 by $0.75 per million British thermal units (mmbtu) to $2.25/mmbtu.

The move is expected to increase Alba's costs significantly but still offers the plant cheaper fuel than most of its competitors outside the region.

"We still have no clarity on what it will be," Murray said when asked if he expected prices to further jump within the near future.

The company and local authorities are discussing a long-term contract to secure availability and price of gas beyond 2012, said the statement.

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