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The Middle East - A Powerhouse in Aluminium

For several years, the Middle East has struck a chord with the oil & petroleum industry. However, in the last decade, in the wake of economic diversification, the region has been concentrating on the non-oil based sectors. The aluminium industry is certainly one of them. Today, the lightweight metal is a major economic driver of the region. With the presence of a number of major aluminium players having global competitiveness, particularly in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), aluminium is a multi-billion-dollar industry today, in the Middle East.

The Middle East is the most prospective region for a flourishing aluminium business. Aluminium production from the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council comprising Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar), constitutes 10 per cent of the total global production. 40 per cent of the region’s total aluminium output is utilized by its downstream industries while the rest 60 per cent is exported across the globe. The UAE is the Middle East’s largest aluminium producer with an investment of USD 22 billion. With its expanding scope and facilities, the aluminium industry in the Middle East has helped boost up foreign trade, create more jobs and expand regional economies.      

The industrial leaders of the GCC are constantly in the process of identifying new opportunities for entering new markets and introducing new products of aluminium. Several factors serve as driving forces behind such a growing aluminium industry in the Middle East with a global competitiveness – 

First, the region offers a wide range of potential industries like construction, transportation, aerospace, aviation, packaging, etc., all of which are major consumers of the metal

Second, the region is bestowed with huge reserves of raw materials, energy (cheap electricity) and natural gas when compared to its global counterparts

Third, several geographical advantages are enjoyed by the region

Fourth, the region has a world class road infrastructure

Fifth, the region has state-of-the-art aluminium smelters which apply sophisticated and leading edge technologies and follow best practices, leading to less energy consumption, reduced production costs and price flexibility

Sixth, availability of cheaper and skilled labour

Lastly, the region’s business friendly industrial policies

On the word of Reuters, the Middle East, in 2016, ‘posted the second highest year-on-year demand growth globally during Q1 at +5.8 per cent.’ The phenomenal growth in the upstream industries will further lead to the upliftment of aluminium’s downstream sector in the region.

Major aluminium players of the GCC

The five major primary aluminium producers of the GCC are Alba, EGA (DUBAL & EMAL), Sohar Aluminium, Qatalum and Ma’aden. These players house the world’s largest aluminium smelters responsible for world class production and are unique in their own ways of operation and technologies. Safety and sustainability lie at the core of their business strategies. In spite of difficult LME market conditions, collectively the five aluminium companies have produced 5,229,115 tonnes of primary aluminium in 2016, successfully achieving their targets.          

Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C. (Alba)

The GCC’s industrial backdrop has been through a dramatic change since 1968, with the establishment of Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C. (Alba). Aluminium Bahrain is one of the biggest single site aluminium smelters of the world. Alba’s revolutionary technology and unparalleled aluminium products manifests the company’s innovative excellence, maintaining strict environmental guidelines and safety regulations. Officially commencing operations in 1971 as a 120,000 tonnes per annum smelter, Alba, today, has made its position among the top ten global leaders of aluminium, producing more than 971,000 metric tonnes per annum. Cost-competitiveness remains a key element of Alba’s strategy for value-creation. Project Titan is Alba’s cost reduction program which aids in optimizing operational costs and enhancing production.  

Products

Alba’s premium aluminium products include Standard and T-ingots, Extrusion Billets, Rolling Slabs, Foundry Alloy Ingots (Propertzi and Standard Ingot Form), and Liquid Metal. Foundry Alloy Ingots are one of Alba’s high-margin Value-Added products bringing a range of benefits in extrusion operations, particularly for downstream users. About 50 per cent of the company’s output is supplied to Bahrain’s downstream aluminium industry, while the rest is exported to Alba’s regional and international customers in the Middle East, Europe, Far East, South East Asia, Africa, and North America. In 1997, Alba’s aluminium was used for producing the solar panels on “Sojourner” rover applied in the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft. 

Technology

After having upgraded its Pot Line 4 to AP36 technology and line current to 360 kA, Alba went for upgradation of Potline control systems for Reduction Lines 4 and 5 with the Alpsys system, having enhanced control features and improved monitoring for maintaining optimum pot parameters, and increasing safety. 

Alba’s datacenter, inaugurated in 2014, is one of the latest generations Containerised Datacenter (CDC) for central data storage and networking along with accessing and managing resources. This datacenter assures efficient operations, increased energy efficiency and risk reduction.

Alba has also gone for new air compressor addition to its existing fleet in the utilities section of the company’s Power and Utilities Department in 2014. What’s more, the company, in 2015, completed the integration of an additional Line Rectiformer (R50) for smelting process that would further improve Alba’s capability to meet future creep capacity objectives and provide backup protection, as well. 

In 2016, Alba upgraded the technology for its Line 6 Expansion Project from EGA DX+ to the EGA DX+ Ultra. This upgradation will perk up Alba’s production to 540,000 metric tonnes per annum (mtpa), raising the company’s total production capacity to approximately 1,500,000 mtpa. The DX+ Ultra Technology will further improve energy efficiency leading Alba to enhance its metal production with no increase in overall energy consumption. The “first hot metal” after Line 6 Expansion is scheduled for January 1, 2019.

In 2016, Alba also successfully upgraded its Casthouse 2 to produce T-Ingot foundry alloy for the first time, which is going to boost the company’s value-added product portfolio.           

HSE

For Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C., workplace safety is of highest priority. Achieving a Zero-accident work environment in the organization is what Alba strives for. Its commitment to safety for employees becomes evident from the company’s achievement of work hours without Lost Time Injury (LTI) several times – in 2014, Alba successfully completed 3 million, 1.5 million, 4 million, and 2 million work hours without LTI; 4 million work hours in February 2015, alone without LTI; and 4 million in the first half of 2016.   

Alba strictly follows its ZERO Accident Principles which are – ownership of safety is everyone’s responsibility; working safely is a condition of employment and; all work-related injuries and illnesses are preventable. The company also believes that improvement in safety performance is directly proportional to increased employee productivity and morale.

Besides, Alba, in its mission to spread awareness in HSE, vigorously cultivates safety culture amongst its employees. The company keeps on conducting safety awareness campaigns and training programs throughout the year.  In 2017, Alba looks forward to launching its ‘Safety Tomorrowland’ initiative to further improve the health and safety of its employees.       

Alba’s major stride towards green initiative has been its inauguration of its first ‘green’ amenity building, primarily serving the employees of Power Stations 3 & 4. The single storey building implements numerous green technologies like solar panels, solar water heating facility and energy efficient appliances such as energy saving ‘LED’ light fittings that reduce building power consumption to a considerable extent – by almost 40 kW, required for approximately 23 tonnes of aluminium per annum. It is worth mentioning here that the green amenity building has set the new energy efficiency standards in Alba’s all future building projects.

Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA)

Jointly owned by Mubadala Development Company of Abu Dhabi and Investment Corporation of Dubai, EGA is one of the top five primary aluminium producers (by volume) in the world. Located in the UAE, the company’s core operating assets are Dubai Aluminium PJSC (DUBAL), located at Jebel Ali and Emirates Aluminium PJSC (EMAL), located at Al Taweelah, with a combined capacity of 2.4 mtpa (after commissioning of EMAL’s Phase II). The combined annual production of DUBAL and EMAL accounts for about 50 per cent of GCC’s total primary aluminium production. The company also owns Guinea Alumina Corporation (GAC), a strategic bauxite mine and alumina refinery development project in Guinea, West Africa.  

Products

The company produces high quality aluminium products in the form of Re-melt products, Foundry, Sheet Ingots, Billet, and Liquid Metal. EGA also produces Anode Blocks and Bus Bars. Both, DUBAL and EMAL are noted for their operational safety and eco-friendly practices. In 2016, EGA came up with a record aluminium production of 2.5 mt of hot metal, increasing from 2.4 mt in 2015.             

 Besides, the company has a total 2.8 mtpa casting capacity. About 80 per cent of the company’s production is exported to almost 70 countries around the world. Traditionally, Asia has been the largest market for EGA while the European Union (EU) is a growing one for the company. The EU’s automotive industry comprising of all the major carmakers and the aerospace industry make extensive use of EGA’s products. In fact, the EU requires importing approximately 60 per cent of its primary aluminium requirements. Along with the MENA region, the Americas too are the key markets of EGA. All these regions are set to drive the production growth further in the Middle East. EGA’s future growth focus is on value-added products. 

Technology

Ceaseless efforts by EGA have yielded multiple in-house developed technologies that have improved production processes, achieved higher production volumes, optimized raw material and energy consumption levels, enhanced operational safety and minimized environmental impact. At present, net and gross carbon consumption can be measured, anode problems can be evaluated, raw material performance can be assessed, rod assemblies can be managed, and individual/collective pot performance can be monitored.

DUBAL

Dubai Aluminium (DUBAL), an operating entity of Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), owns and operates one of the world’s largest aluminium smelters. With a capacity to produce more than one million metric tonnes of high quality aluminium products per year, DUBAL fabricates Foundry Alloy for automotive applications, Extrusion Billet for construction, industrial, forging and transportation purposes; and High Purity Aluminium for the electronics and aerospace industries. The company’s Foundry Alloy travels to the Far East for their automotive industry, while its Extrusion Billet is supplied to the construction markets, and Highly Pure Primary Aluminium for the electronics and aerospace industries. DUBAL’s products serve customers primarily in Asia, Europe, the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region, and the Americas. DUBAL’s advanced reduction cell technologies over the past 25 years have helped increase productivity with energy efficiency. This calls for the mention of DUBAL DX Technology and DX+ Technology implemented at the Company’s Jebel Ali smelter complex.

DUBAL’s products had already been declared suitable for sustainable building practices by two internationally acclaimed bodies – The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building programme launched by the US Green Building Council (USGBC); and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen e.V. (“DGNB”, which translates as the German Sustainable Building Council), which strongly promotes sustainable and economically efficient building.

DUBAL will be contributing about 1.06 million tonnes out of EGA’s target of supplying globally high quality primary aluminium with an annual primary aluminium production capacity of 2.36 million tonnes. Several world-renowned architectures such as Malaysia’s Petronas Towers, Dubai’s Burj Al Arab and Grand Hyatt Hotels owe themselves to DUBAL’s aluminium.

The DUBAL Technical Laboratory, over the years, has ranked among the five best laboratories worldwide for accuracy in both the Raw Material and Quantometer sections. The laboratory has maintained excellent standards in Round Robin testing of Anode Cores, Petroleum Coke, Coal Tar Pitch, Aluminium Metal, Alumina and Aluminium Fluoride.

EMAL

Located at KIZAD (Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi) at Al Taweelah, Abu Dhabi, Emirates Aluminium (EMAL) is an operating entity under Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) and takes much pride in being a high-tech aluminium smelter complex that produces 800,000 tonnes of aluminium annually. With the establishment of EMAL’s phase II in September 2013, the Company’s production has risen to 1.3 million tonnes by the end of 2014. What’s more, with the completion of the energization of the 444 pots making the longest potline worldwide (at 1.7 km), EMAL is one of the largest single site aluminium smelters in the world. The smelter’s production capacity has been expanded by 520,000 tpy. With the completion of Phase II, the smelter’s capacity has been augmented to 1.32 mtpy (1,200 cells in three potlines). The site at Al Taweelah also consists of a 3000 MW power plant, raw materials storage silos, a huge carbon plant and a flexible cast house, with a capacity of fabricating a wide variety of cast house products (1.5 mtpa). EMAL Phase I (756 cells in two potlines) with DX Technology was one of the world’s largest Greenfield smelter developments. Currently, the smelter operates at about 400 kA (creep to 410 kA is planned by the end of 2015). EMAL’s global supply comprises of high quality aluminium in the form of Sow (Low Profile & High Profile), Standard Ingots, Sheet Ingots, Foundry Ingots and Extrusion Billets. Sow and Standard Ingots are traded on the London Metal Exchange (LME).

EMAL’s products have been declared suitable for sustainable building practices, conforming to the criteria defined by the LEED green building program launched by the US Green Building Council (USGBC); and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen e.V.

EMAL’s technological approach is inclined towards sustainability, implementing the principles of Lean Manufacturing systems and tools ensuring effective and efficient production. Lean-6Sigma methodology is worth mentioning here. Through this methodology, EMAL’s production becomes stabilized, synergic, cost-effective and far more improved.

HSE in DUBAL & EMAL

In making itself a perfectionist corporate entity in Health, Safety and Environment, EGA’s aim is to move closer to the target of Zero Harm to people and the environment. Certain factors of operational excellence such as lowering costs, minimizing error, maximizing efficiency are well looked into.

The EMAL Phase II project maintained and even built-on the outstanding safety records achieved in the construction and operational phases of EMAL Phase I. Despite more than 20,000 employees working all the time, EMAL Phase II achieved 42 million work-hours without lost time injuries (LTIs). In fact, the site’s excellence in terms of safety performance parameters won EMAL the prestigious 2014 Gold Award for Occupational Health and Safety from the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) for the second consecutive year.

EGA’s cutting-edge in-house developed DX and DX+ cell reduction technologies use less energy in the production of aluminium, maintaining world class quality and finest levels of purity. EGA’s high amperage DX+ Technology is installed in the 444 reduction cells in EMAL Phase II (Potline 3). The enhanced energy efficiency of the aforementioned high amperage technologies also leads to the reduction of a smelter’s operational impacts on the environment by means of mitigated emission levels of CO2 and perfluorocarbon. Moreover, optimising raw material usage, effective energy-use management, minimizing air emissions, effluent discharge and waste, etc. – all of these best practices are followed at EGA. In fact, the company aims supporting the Dubai government’s Vision 2030 and the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy’s commitments to innovation and sustainability. Vigorous sustainable approaches by EGA in its operations have led to reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions to a considerable extent over the past three years. EGA, quite enthusiastically, supports the Dubai Government’s efforts to mitigate energy consumption in fulfilment of the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy (“DIES”) 2030. In its mission to save electricity and make use of renewable energy, EGA has inaugurated a mini solar field at DUBAL in December 2014. With a maximum output of 70 kW, it will generate adequate power to suffice the electricity requirements of the site’s Residential Area Office during the day, including air-conditioning. In fact, DUBAL’s various energy-conservation efforts have saved about 40,000 MWh since April 2011. In 2013, DUBAL installed UAE’s first ever absorption chiller on the rooftop of the DUBAL Desalination Plant control building. This has helped reduce the Company’s energy consumption by approximately 780,000 kWh per year, mitigating DUBAL’s overall carbon footprint. Again, EMAL is thoroughly coordinating with TRANSCO and ADWEA for optimizing gas utilization within the Emirates, under the sponsorship of the Executive Affairs Authority in Abu Dhabi. This approach would establish a more efficient grid.

DUBAL has five DX+ Ultra Technology cells operating in its pilot Eagle Section for minimizing specific energy consumption. The company also looks forward to replacing 513 pots in its Potlines 1 to 3 with D18+ Technology cells for enhancing performance and economic competitiveness.

At DUBAL, high standards set in safety, energy conservation, environmental and health management have brought in sizeable efficiency gains several times, resulting in reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions along with increased annual savings.

Sohar Aluminium

Oman’s first and foremost venture into the aluminium industry has been through the commencement of $2.4 billion venture Sohar Aluminium – a partnership between Oman Oil Company, Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC-TAQA and Rio Tinto Alcan. The company’s facilities consist of smelter, a power plant and the world’s fastest growing ports. Oman’s biggest non-hydrocarbon industrial venture proudly owns the world’s longest single potline till date, at 1.2 km long (360 pots), and the first smelter in the world to implement the most energy efficient and productive smelting technology commercially available – Rio Tinto Alcan’s benchmark AP36 smelting technology. The smelter, in fact, is powered by a 1,000 MW combined-cycle captive power generation facility designed and built by Alstom and owned by Sohar Aluminium. The company manufactures 375,000 tonnes of high quality primary aluminium per annum at purities of p1020 and above. The smelter has an onsite carbon facility. It produces and rods its own anodes ensuring maximum efficiency and availability to the smelter. The Rhodax crusher used on site that is provided by Five Solios is the world’s one of the highest capacity machines. The company’s casthouse is another feature worth mentioning which has commissioned and implemented the world’s highest capacity ingot casters at 27 mt per hour. A 25 mt per hour sow caster is yet another characteristic of the casthouse.  

Products

The smelter applies the latest technology and employs the best practices to produce Ingots, Sows and Hot Metal. Sohar Aluminium’s 60 per cent of Hot Metal output goes to the local downstream industries. The biggest downstream venture to depend on Sohar Aluminium is Oman Aluminium Rolling Company LLC (OARC).

Technology

The company plans for capacity expansion in the coming years – from 375,000 tonnes of aluminium to 400,000 tonnes by implementing advanced technology without the need to increase the number of pots.

Sohar Aluminium’s Automation Infrastructure Virtualisation Project guarantees remarkable gains in system scalability, operational efficiency, energy efficiency and security cost savings over the coming years. In fact, Sohar Aluminium is the first smelter in the GCC region to completely virtualize its automation infrastructure leading to an improved reliability of IT hardware and software systems.

HSE

The company, through its design, specification, operation and construction has worked towards ensuring environmental protection and safety of the workforce, strictly following the guidelines of Oman’s environment agency (MECA).

Keeping an aim to boost output by a momentous 28,000 tonnes annually of primary aluminium, optimizing energy efficiency and productivity at its huge smelter, Sohar Aluminium has plans for an ‘Amperage Creep’ project and a revamp of the potline. The company is also looking forward to optimizing and improving the specific energy consumption of the potline to mitigate its aluminium cost per tonne. The amperage creep project, expected to be completed by 2019, will help an operating level reach 400 kA in the coming years.

In December 2016, Sohar Aluminium was recognized for its innovative annual Heat Stress Management Campaign,
one of the aluminium industry’s most prestigious awards by the Gulf Aluminium Council (GAC), the Aluminium Industry’s coordinating body and leading professional organization. This award says everything about the Company’s incessant efforts to nurture a culture of high safety standards among its employees and contractors.

Sohar Aluminium does enormously for the local community where it operates by community services, supporting down-stream job creation, encouraging employees into community volunteering, arranging awareness campaigns for community for instance, students on safety issues and summer internship programmes, supporting local craftsmanship and local SMEs, providing life-saving equipment to fishermen in Sohar, cleaning coral reefs, etc.      

Qatalum (Qatar Aluminium)

Qatar Aluminium (Qatalum) is an equal joint venture between Qatar Petroleum and Hydro Aluminium of Norway, and produces 585,000 tonnes of premium quality primary aluminium products per annum from its twin 1.2 kilometre potline. Qatalum’s facilities consist of fully integrated primary aluminium plant, carbon plant, casthouse, port and storage facilities, and a captive power plant.

Products

The company’s main casthouse products are high-quality Extrusion Ingot Billets and Primary Foundry Alloy Ingots, apart from Primary Aluminium. Qatalum also looks forward to widening its product portfolio.

Technology

Qatar Aluminium applies the advanced HAL250 electrolytic reduction cell technology, which is used in Hydro’s project at Sunndal, Norway, along with microcomputer process control, resulting in reliability and efficiency. Qatalum has also been gifted with the HAL275 technology – an economical and environment-friendly electrolytic reduction technology. In the beginning of this year, Qatalum bagged TOP award for its outstanding innovation in IT and strategies to speed up its business growth. Virtualization Technologies like HP blades, EMC Storage and VMware need to be mentioned here. All these innovations prove the company’s efforts towards making Qatar Aluminium the best smelter in the world.      

HSE

Qatalum’s HSE safety campaigns are worth mentioning. Its campaigns aim for all employees encouraging one another to ‘SPOT’ any unsafe acts or conditions and high potential near misses to prevent injuries and accidents. Increasing the quality of HSE observations and implementing preventive and corrective actions and measures are also the campaign’s targets. Safety, for Qatalum, is paramount and everyone’s responsibility, ahead of production.

Qatalum has been honoured by Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Leader Awards several times. Moreover, the company was awarded the Certificate of Excellence from the Arab Organization for Social Responsibility for its outstanding and responsible business practices. CSR initiatives by Qatalum are physical fitness drive, organized by the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Department and promoted by the Communications Department at Qatalum, lending hands to the needy, providing health, social and psychological care to the elderly by IHSAN, etc.  

Ma’aden (Saudi Arabian Mining Company)

Ma’aden’s (Saudi Arabian Mining Company) $10.8 billion joint venture with Alcoa is the largest and the most efficient vertically integrated aluminium complex in the world. It has two integrated sites – Al Ba’itha and Ras Al Khair. The former is the company’s bauxite mine and ore crushing & handling facilities, estimated to produce at an annual mining rate of 4.0 million mtpy of bauxite. Ras Al Khair’s alumina refinery, aluminium smelter and rolling mill are worth mentioning. GCC’s first alumina refinery is capable of producing 1.8 million mtpy of alumina, which in turn is processed in the smelter to produce 740,000 mtpy of aluminium. The rolling mill with initial hot-mill capacity of 380,000 mtpy focuses on Sheet, End and Tab Stock production for the manufacture of cans and other products including auto, construction and foil applications.

Products

The first production-grade coil was produced by the rolling mill at their joint venture aluminium complex in Saudi Arabia in June 2014. The mill at Ras Al Khair is the most technologically advanced in Saudi Arabia and the first in the Middle East to produce food grade can sheet, and automotive, building & construction sheets.

Technology

Ras Al Khair’s state-of-the-art mill applies latest technology which includes fully automated coil and scrap transport and storage facilities featuring driverless guided vehicles and cranes to optimize efficiency. The mill complex also houses a high-tech recycling facility which processes every used beverage can generated within Saudi Arabia and the neighbouring Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The Ma’aden Aluminium can reclamation facility has the capacity to recycle 120,000 mtpy of primarily used beverage cans which would be promoting the beginning of a new recycling industry in Saudi Arabia.

HSE

As discussed, Ma’aden’s efforts and initiatives in recycling are noteworthy. Apart from energy efficient technologies in the facilities, Ma’aden strictly maintains workplace safety in all its facilities in its construction, operations & maintenance and decommissioning stages.

Aluminium downstream industry of Middle East

The Middle East, particularly the Gulf, is rapidly moving towards downstream industries from upstream ones, in order to create added value for aluminium products, generate jobs and encourage more inward investments. Along with the mainstream aluminium smelters, the downstream factories of the GCC are moving fast to acquire the high-tech machines and latest equipment.

GCC’s 70 per cent of entire aluminium (primary) produced is exported in various shapes and alloys while 30 per cent is used by downstream industries. Among this, half i.e. 15 per cent is re-exported to international markets, as per Gulf Aluminium Council. Extrusion, serving regional and international automotive industries, accounts for 450 kt out of Gulf’s annual secondary production of 1.5 mt. For wires and cables, the second largest consumer of Gulf aluminium, it is 400 kt annually which are distributed among Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman. Roll production, at present, stands at 200 kt per year in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman and is set to increase to 750 kt with the completion of new plants in Oman and Saudi Arabia.

The architectural, building and construction sector (ABC) of the Middle East, currently, is the key driver of the domestic aluminium downstream products demand. Apart from them, transportation, automotive, electrical, engineering and various other consumer goods industry are the major users of the metal in the region. The list of major GCC downstream players includes Gulf Extrusions and Al-Hamad Aluminium Extrusions in the UAE, Gulf Aluminium Rolling Mill (GARMCO) and Midal Cable in Bahrain, Alupco and Al-Taisser in Saudi Arabia and Oman Aluminium Rolling Company (OARC) in Oman.

Aluminium Extrusion

ABC applications in the Middle East account for about 87 per cent of the aluminium extrusion market in the region. In fact, Qatar, in preparation for the FIFA world cup in 2022, is expected to witness a surge in the construction activity. Considerable investments made in the transportation, electrical and industrial sectors across the GCC countries would increase the demand for aluminium extrusion products in the coming years.

Aluminium FRP

The packaging sector, followed by the ABC sector, is the major end user segment of aluminium FRP (Flat Rolled Products) in the Middle East region. However, the use of aluminium FRP by the transportation sector in the GCC region is small. Some of the emerging application sectors of aluminium FRP in the Middle East region are bus coach building, rail wagon manufacturing, shipbuilding & repairing. Currently, the major aluminium FRP producer in the Middle East region is Gulf Aluminium Rolling Mill Co. (GARMCO) of Bahrain.

Aluminium Foil

Aluminium foil production in the Middle East is considerably short of demand thus, leading to large imports. The key producer of aluminium foil in the region is GARMCO Foil Mill, Bahrain, a subsidiary of GARMCO.

Aluminium Wire Rods

Bahrain is the leading producer of aluminium wire rods in the Middle East. The GCC electricity grid project is the major driver of demand for aluminium cables and conductors in the region.

An optimistic future

The Middle East’s primary aluminium industry, from a bigger aspect and the Gulf’s specifically, might have to come across several major challenges, particularly in the form of duty barriers, created through the imposition of import tariffs. This is impeding trade opportunities in the region with certain countries like Brazil, India and Europe. Nevertheless, against all odds, the Middle East is strongly viewed to play the future role of the world’s powerhouse in aluminium production.

As per statistical data, the aluminium industry in the region is growing by 8.4 per cent annually, as against a global average of 3.7 per cent per annum – making the Middle East the fastest growing aluminium market globally. By 2020, the total Gulf production of aluminium has been foreseen to reach up to 70 million tonnes, making it the biggest single player worldwide. Further capacity expansions in the primary aluminium sector have been announced by major smelters of the GCC which would be collectively adding another 2.25 million tonnes to the region’s annual production capacity.           

Investments in the sector of aluminium are set to reach an overwhelming USD 55 billion by 2020, driven by expansion of smelters and upcoming new projects in the region. This has been forecast by global aluminium market analyst Harbor Intelligence. Foreign investors are increasingly focusing their attention to the Middle East for aluminium business. Moreover, a robust growth in local infrastructure development, increasing demand   in international markets and an upbeat development of aluminium clusters are leading to an expansion of the downstream aluminium industry. This further projects more job opportunities, social, economic and national development in the region.