Dubai Aluminium Celebrates Major Production Milestone
The Jebel Ali primary aluminium complex owned and operated by Dubai Aluminium Company Limited (“DUBAL”) produced 1,009,772 metric tonnes of cast aluminium products in 2009. Ranked as the world’s largest modern smelter with a captive power station and widely regarded as the industrial flagship of the UAE, the entirely state-owned enterprise attributes the achievement of this major production milestone to a strategic focus on optimising capacity utilisation, maximising operating efficiencies, continuous innovation and pro-actively meeting market needs.
“Exceeding one million tonnes in finished products in a single year is a tremendous feat for DUBAL — especially as an annual production volume of 1,009,772 metric tonnes makes DUBAL the largest single-site aluminium producer of value-added products in the world, by far,” says Abdulla Kalban (President & CEO). “What’s more, the record not only fulfilled a corporate objective in our 30th anniversary year, but it was also achieved in the midst of the global economic recession, which forced many other primary aluminium producers into a partial close-down of production capacity. As I have stated on several occasions previously, DUBAL has continued to operate at full capacity throughout the downturn and, as in prior years, we pre-sold our entire production. We did this by establishing new markets for our metal, changing our product mix to meet the needs of our customers, enhancing process efficiencies and improving our productivity levels — a strategic combination that enabled a 6.5 per cent year-on-year increase in cast metal production compared to the 947,751 metric tonnes cast in 2008.”
In general, DUBAL manufactures high quality aluminium products in three broad categories at Jebel Ali: foundry alloy for automotive applications; extrusion billet for construction, industrial and transportation purposes; and high purity aluminium for the electronics and aerospace industries. The product portfolio also includes bus bars for the primary aluminium industry (used in-house and sold to other smelter complexes). More than 112 different products are manufactured, the majority of which are customized to customer specifications.
Kalban adds that the 2009 production milestone, set by DUBAL’s Casting operations, marks the fruition of the successive expansion projects undertaken at the Jebel Ali site between 1990 and 2008. “DUBAL’s smelting capacity has grown from 135,000 metric tonnes per annum at commissioning in 1979, to a current one million metric tonnes per annum — in other words, a seven-fold increase. The capacity of our Casting operations has expanded in parallel: from an initial 490 metric tonnes per annum it has grown 159.39 per cent to a current 1,271,000 metric tonnes per annum — which makes it the largest in the world.”
Since inception, DUBAL’s Casting operations have repeatedly notched up world-class performance achievements. “The first one million tonnes of finished products was produced in 1987, with the five millionth cumulative metric tonne production milestone being reached in 2001. Just six years later, in October 2007, we manufactured the ten millionth cumulative metric tonne of finished products,” explains Kalban. “What’s more, DUBAL has been the world’s biggest single-plant producer of aluminium extrusion billets for several years.”
In 2009 alone, several new records were set:
• The order for 40,000 metric tones worth of Anode/Bus bars for the Emirates Aluminium (“EMAL”) pot lines, was completed (execution of the order began in 2008).
• A record of 29,891 metric tonnes of sow ingots was produced — which annualized to 359,000 metric tonnes.
• The world record in billet casting (in terms of maximum number of casts per day) was achieved in April 2009, giving an annualized casting capability of approximately 735,000 metric tonnes.
• A record of 14,816 metric tonnes was achieved in standard ingot production in November 2009, which gives an annualized figure of 221,000 metric tonnes.
Ever-ambitious, DUBAL has set its sights on an even higher cast metal production volume of 1,024,000 metric tonnes in 2010 — which will mean utilising 80.56 per cent of the Casthouse production capacity (compared to 79.4 per cent in 2009). Says Kalban, “Our company has a proven track record over the past 30 years. Going forward, we are confident that our business model will continue to deliver further sustainable growth.”