UAE pumps over 4% of global aluminium output

Production peaks at 1.8m tonnes and is set to exceed 2.5m tonnes

A new smelter constructed in Abu Dhabi two years ago boosted the UAE’s aluminium output to 1.8 million tonnes in 2011 to allow it to pump more than four per cent of the world’s total production of the metal.

Official figures showed Dubal smelter in Dubai reached a capacity of around 1.02 million tonnes this year while the Abu Dhabi plant, Emal, is producing nearly 750,000 tonnes per year. Emal’s output is expected to double to 1.3 million tonnes when new expansions are completed in 2014.

“The UAE’s aluminium production has reached 1.8 million tonnes per year, accounting for about 4.1 per cent of the world’s total aluminium output and 51 per cent of the production in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),” the government-owned Dubal said in a report ahead of its participation along with Emal in the September 7-9 global aluminium conference in Paris.

The report showed nearly 90 per cent of the UAE’s aluminium production is exported to more than 50 countries, mainly Asian markets.

Dubal, which jointly owns Emal with the Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Development Company, is one of the first aluminium producers in the Middle East. Dubai’s government built that smelter more than two decades ago as part of a strategy designed to ease reliance on volatile oil exports.

According to the Doha-based Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting (GOIC), the UAE and other GCC nations are expected to pump nearly $25 billion into new aluminium projects and expansion of their existing smelters in the next 12 years.

Its figures showed the GCC countries, which control nearly 45 per cent of the world’s oil and 25 per cent of the global gas wealth, has invested nearly $30 billion in aluminium smelters, almost a sixth of their total non-oil industrial investments of about $180 billion.

The new investments include around $5.8 billion in Qatar’s smelter, which was inaugurated last year with a production capacity of 585,000 tonnes per year.

About $eight billion will also be pumped by Emal while more expansions are on the cards in Dubai and Bahrain, where the region’s first smelters were set up.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s dominant oil exporter, is also planning to set up a $3.8-billion smelter while Oman has completed its first aluminium plant in Sohar.

In a study on aluminium projects in the GCC, GOIC said regional states need to push ahead with such projects to face a rapid rise in domestic demand because of massive infrastructure projects. External demand for their products is also expected to surge as global consumption will likely pick up in the near future following a slowdown due to the 2008 global fiscal crisis.

Citing world estimates, it said global aluminium demand is forecast to soar to nearly 70 million tones by 2020 from around 37 million tones currently.

“The expansions and new projects in the GCC countries will enable them to offset any decline in other parts of the world as some smelters in Europe, south Asia and North America could be shut because of high costs,” GOIC said.

“Such developments will depress global supply and this will boost demand for GCC aluminium as the region does not have any problems with costs given its enormous energy resources which make these projects more feasible.”

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