Customer awareness of the UAE's growing primary aluminium sector in Europe has received another boost, thanks to the participation by Dubai Aluminium Company Limited ("DUBAL") — the entirely state-owned enterprise that owns and operates one of the world's largest single-site aluminium smelters — and Emirates Aluminium ("EMAL") — a high-tech greenfield aluminium smelter in ramp-up stage — at the biennial World Trade Fair and Conference ("ALUMINIUM 2010"), which took place in Messe Essen, Germany, mid-September. This year's event was the second consecutive Essen exhibition at which DUBAL and EMAL participated jointly (the first occasion being ALUMINIUM 2008), again with the aim of promoting both the companies' individual facilities and their combined product portfolio to delegates, participants and other visitors to the exhibition.
In addition, a representative of DUBAL's Marketing & Sales department delivered a presentation during the coincident conference. Entitled "The role of the Middle East aluminium industry in a global context", the presentation highlighted the growing significance of the region as a key global primary aluminium supplier. The current combined production capacity of the five smelters in the Gulf — two in the UAE plus one each in Bahrain, Oman and Qatar — is 3.7 million metric tonnes per annum (9 per cent of world production). Taking planned expansions and improved productivity initiatives into account, the total volume is expected to reach 10 million metric tonnes per annum by 2015 (about 18 per cent of world production).
Given that ALUMINIUM 2010 catered for players across the aluminium industry, DUBAL also used the forum to promote its advanced, proprietary DX Reduction Technology, which has been implemented in a dedicated 40-cell potline within DUBAL's Jebel Ali smelter operations and has also been licensed to EMAL Phase 1 (756 cells in two potlines). Operating stably at higher amperages (approximately 370 kA), DX Reduction Technology cells offer increased productivity, improved energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact compared to lower amperage technologies.
DUBAL's Sultan Al Sabri (General Manager Marketing & Sales: Europe & North America) reports that the event lived up to expectations. "Many of our existing customers visited our stand, giving us the opportunity to continue building on our long-standing relationships and to discuss business-related matters," he says. "A good many potential new customers also expressed interest in our company and products. The combination reinforced the strong presence that the UAE aluminium sector already has in Europe; and underscored the scope for growth in the market for the foreseeable future. "
Al Sabri adds that Europe has been strategically important for DUBAL since the company's first entry into the region in 1996. "The Middle East is ideally located to serve Europe. We have capitalised on this over the years by developing a comprehensive infrastructure of discharge port facilities and warehouses that enable us to deliver our products efficiently across Europe," he says. "This infrastructure will now benefit EMAL, given the contractual agreement between our two companies, in terms of which DUBAL is responsible for marketing EMAL's products. With this in mind, we leveraged ALUMINIUM 2010 as a platform to promote EMAL slab and sheet ingot to the European market."
DUBAL and EMAL's joint participation at ALUMINIUM 2010 formed part of a core strategy to position both companies to pursue the anticipated sales growth in European markets. Following the reduced demand for primary aluminium in Europe during 2009, as a result of the global economic recession, the levels of metal historically sold into the region is expected to be restored in the near-term. "This presents exciting opportunities for marketing our own products plus the additional volume of primary aluminium products produced by EMAL," says Al Sabri. "Prior to ALUMINIUM 2010, two large contracts with major players had already been secured for EMAL slab and sheet ingot, for which delivery into Europe began in the third quarter of this year. These contracts represent our first foray into the rolling industry and, we believe, herald the start of ever greater inroads into the region as a whole."