ALBA MATTERS

Almost a decade after going public with their IPO, Aluminum Bahrain (Alba) is on the verge of completing an ambitious expansion plan.

Compressed aluminium cans ready for recycling are seen at the Constellium production unit in Biesheim, eastern France, April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler


Aluminum Bahrain—more commonly known as Alba—is already one of the largest smelters of aluminum in the Middle East.
Not satisfied with this distinction, however, the company has been trying to become a global leader in the aluminum industry by undertaking an ambitious expansion plan.

In 2017 the firm registered an all-time high production of 981,000 metric tons, in the form of a mix of products including slabs, billets, and rolls, among others.

And, while almost half of the company's output is in demand by local industries, the other half makes its way to markets across the GCC, the Middle East, and beyond—often as far as the Americas and Southeast Asia.

The expansion initiative for Line 6 will bring the smelter to greater heights in terms of production, contribution to Bahraini industry, and its global brand image.

The brownfield development initiative will raise the annual production to a staggering 1.5 million metric tons—almost 50% up from the current figure.

If all goes according to plan, this will crown the company as the world's largest single-site Aluminum Smelter, while synergizing the growth of a whole host of related industrial enterprises in Bahrain.

Just like the five existing pot-lines, Line 6 is essentially a chain of hundreds of electrolytic cells: pots in which aluminum is purified by electrolysis using high voltage electricity.

The pot-line's insatiable thirst for electricity is, in part, the reason that the final bill for the Line 6 expansion program will amount to USD3 billion, with the capital expenditure covering the construction of a dedicated 1,800MW power station in addition to the sixth pot-line itself.

Commissioned in December, 2018, to Bechtel in the form of an engineering, procurement and, construction management contract (EPCM), the 424-cell pot-line hit the 50% milestone in production capacity in April 2019 and will be ready to work full steam in 3Q2019.

General Electric and GAMA Consortium, which were entrusted with the task of designing and building the combined cycle gas turbine power station, and Siemens, which was in charge of the power distribution, have all reported remarkable progress in their allocated projects.

The overall progress was estimated at around 98% for the pot-line, while the power station and the power distribution infrastructure were 96-99% completed by the end of August, 2019.

The conclusion of the Line 6 project will be one of the main talking points in the ARABAL 2019 event which will be held in Bahrain this year from November 19-21.

In addition to the prospects of Bahrain's aluminum industry after the completion of the Line 6 project, renowned industry insiders will speak about topics such as challenges faced by the aluminum industry in the Arab World and “environment, sustainability and recycling" in the 2019 edition of ARABAL.

As it happens, Alba has been praised not only for the quality of its products but also for its commitment to community values and environmental protection measures.

Local Bahrainis form just under 85% of Alba's workforce, and its track record shows that the smelter is mindful of its environmental impact, thus far investing over USD589 million in conservation programs.

The company's adherence to world-class environmental standards has earned it a number of awards, including the UN Environment Protection Award (1997), the Millennium Business Award for Environmental Achievement (2000), and the Green World Award for Environmental Best Practice (2016).