UAE's $3.3bn alumina refinery enters final testing phase

Once production is fully ramped-up, Al Taweelah alumina refinery is expected to produce 2 million tonnes of alumina per year
UAE's $3.3bn alumina refinery enters final testing phase
Abdulla Kalban, managing director and CEO of EGA.
By Sam Bridge
Mon 28 Jan 2019 04:35 PM

Emirates Global Aluminium, the largest industrial company in the UAE outside oil and gas, on Monday announced that commissioning of its new Al Taweelah alumina refinery has entered its final stages.

First production from Al Taweelah alumina refinery is expected during the first half of this year, the company said in a statement

EGA has now begun hot water testing of the digestion section of the alumina refinery. 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. Digestion involves the heating of a slurry of crushed bauxite and caustic soda to 270 degrees centigrade using steam.

Testing equipment and pipelines with hot water under high pressure simulates normal operating conditions and is the last step to ensure a facility is ready for process chemicals to be introduced.

Al Taweelah alumina refinery, which has a total budgeted project cost of approximately $3.3 billion, is the first in the UAE and only the second in the Middle East.

EGA is also building a bauxite mine and export facilities in the Republic of Guinea, where first exports are expected during the second half of 2019.

Once production is fully ramped-up, Al Taweelah alumina refinery is expected to produce some 2 million tonnes of alumina per year and meet 40 per cent of EGA’s alumina requirements, replacing some imports.

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.

Earlier this month, EGA’s nearby Al Taweelah power plant started delivering steam to the new alumina refinery through new connecting pipelines.

Abdulla Kalban, managing director and CEO 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.”

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