Al Taweelah alumina refinery is a greenfield refinery with an annual capacity of some 2 million metric tonnes located in the United Arab Emirates’ Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD). Owned by Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), the approximately $3.3 billion project is the UAE’s first alumina refinery and only the second in the Middle East.
The Al Taweelah alumina refinery development was part of EGA’s strategic expansion upstream in the aluminum value chain. Also, it created additional economic opportunities for other industries in the supply chain, including shipping and trade.
Credit: Emirates Global Aluminium
The diverse and multicultural construction team included 44 nationalities, spoke 24 languages, and worked towards a common goal. The construction of Al Taweelah alumina refinery was led by the Bechtel Petrofac Joint Venture (BPJV) with process design support and technology licensing from Rio Tinto Alcan. A Hatch - Outotec JV provided digestion and associated design and technology licensing. EGA, the UAE’s largest industrial company outside oil and gas, issued the Full Notice to Proceed in May 2015. The first alumina was produced in April 2019.
The construction workforce peaked at 11,542 from 20 countries. Construction took 72 million hours of work, equivalent to one person working for over 25,000 years.
The new plant contains approximately 9,500 instruments, 222 tanks, enough piping to stretch from Abu Dhabi to Muscat, and cabling that would reach from Abu Dhabi to Cairo. It covers an area equivalent to 200 football fields and contains enough steel to build seven Eiffel Towers.
World class ramp-up and safety
EGA announced in early 2021 that Al Taweelah alumina refinery had delivered sustained monthly production at or above nameplate capacity for the past three consecutive months.
The milestone marked the completion of a world-class ramp-up that was achieved within 21 months of the start of production, despite the global pandemic. This achievement compares to other refineries commissioned in the past decade that have taken three years or more to reach this level.
The ramp-up at Al Taweelah alumina refinery has been delivered with an excellent safety performance, with zero injuries leading to time off work.
BPJV carried out more than 277,000 hours of safety training and over 280 safety professionals managed onsite safety processes and systems during refinery construction. The rate of recordable safety incidents was far lower than international benchmarks and there were zero fatalities.
Innovation for safe operations
BPJV partnered with Sitech Gulf, a distributor of Trimble surveying equipment, to develop an innovative tool to maintain dozer operators’ safety, creating a software ‘model’ of the stockpile with specific exclusion zones. This helped operators remain in the safe areas.