Industry association to serve and promote interests of regional aluminium sector

Published March 16th, 2010 - 10:01 GMT

 Two years ago, in 2008, the primary aluminium producers in the Gulf region announced the formation of an organisation — known as the Gulf Aluminium Council (“GAC”) — that would represent, promote and protect the interests of the aluminium industry within the region. Since then, much work has been done to establish the various committees of the GAC and build the foundations for progress towards the association’s goals. This development work has culminated in the establishment of official GAC headquarters in Dubai, UAE; and the formal launch of the GAC to the media today.

The Board of the GAC comprises the Chief Executive Officers of the six founding member companies, five of which have established smelters in the region, namely: Aluminium Bahrain (“Alba”), Dubai Aluminium Company (“DUBAL”), Emirates Aluminium (“EMAL”), Qatar Aluminium (“Qatalum”), and Sohar Aluminium (“Sohar”), in Oman. The sixth member is Saudi Mining Company (“Ma’aden”), which has announced plans to develop a fully integrated complex in Saudi Arabia. Collectively, the operational smelters at Alba, DUBAL and Sohar produced more than 2 million metric tonnes of primary aluminium in 2009 — equating to 5.6 per cent of the global market. Following the successful start-up EMAL and Qatalum, both of which produced their first cast metal in December last year, it is expected that the total production by GAC members will exceed 3 million metric tonnes in 2010. Ultimately, the region’s production volumes could be doubled to 6 million metric tonnes per annum in the future, the exact timing being dependent the impact of market influences on the planned expansions of production capacity at the newcomer smelters (specifically Sohar and EMAL) and the commissioning date of Ma’aden (currently anticipated in 2013).

Already, the Gulf region has the acknowledged potential to become a major producer in the global aluminium industry. This potential is already being realised through the above-mentioned growth in share of annual production, with the additional capacity coming on stream being well placed to meet increased demand for the metal worldwide. Moreover, by being equipped with new-generation technologies and adhering to the most stringent environmental protection standards, the smelters in the Gulf region are considered to be among the most energy-efficient and environment-friendly smelters in the world.

The rapid infrastructural development taking place in the GCC countries is also expected to raise the level of aluminium product usage in the region to new heights, a factor that has spawned much discussion on the development of the downstream aluminium sector within the GAC member countries.

According to Abdulla J M Kalban (President & CEO of DUBAL; and Board-elected Chairman of GAC), the council’s main objectives will be to support the successful growth of the primary aluminium industry in the GCC by enhancing the working environment within the industry through the adoption of internationally-accepted and benchmarked safer work practices; reinforcing the regional industry players’ commitment to protecting the environment and safeguarding the health and well-being of communities; and developing a talent pool for the aluminium industry in the Gulf. Marketing and pricing aluminium fall outside the council’s scope. “Most importantly, the council provides a forum to develop strategies for our common issues and concerns; and to share best practises so as to improve the efficiency of the industry, thereby contributing to its sustainable development,” he says. “Through the council, the members will continually explore opportunities for synergy between our operations — such as logistics and transportation — that will further improve our international competitiveness. The continued expansion of the aluminium industry in the region will also contribute to the development of National human resources, resulting in accelerated socio-economic development.”

Naturally, the GAC will also serve as a coordinated voice for the aluminium industry in the Gulf Acting as a representative body for its member base, the council will work closely with relevant local and international associations such as the International Aluminium Institute, European Aluminium Association, Aluminium Federation and others with similar concerns.  “The GAC will complement the efforts of these industry bodies and, in doing so, will play an important role in furthering the achievement of the council’s own objectives,” Kalban explains.

Speaking on behalf of the Board, Kalban goes on to express the GAC’s gratitude to Aluminum Federation — the UK trade association for the aluminium industry — for administering the GAC and its activities during the formation and set-up period. He also announces with pride the appointment by the Board of Mahmood Daylami as General Secretary: GAC, who has developed and presented a business plan; and will gather a team to lead the council’s future activities — which may include expanding the council’s membership to embrace the full spectrum of the aluminium industry in the region (primary production and end-user product manufacture). Daylami brings more than thirty years’ experience in the aluminium industry to the position, most recently as Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Alba where he was responsible for the entire operations of the plant at executive level. “The GAC Board is extremely confident that, with its support, the General Secretary and his team will move the council towards achieving its goals,” says Kalban.

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