More industry milestones as EMAL completes start-up of new potline

World’s longest potline fully commissioned three months ahead of schedule, with exceptional safety performance standards and complemented by industry-leading facilities

The renowned earned by Emirates Aluminium PJSC (“EMAL”) for setting industry benchmarks has been further entrenched this week, marked by the start-up of the last cell in the new 444-cell potline built during the EMAL Phase II project and designed to expand the smelter’s production capacity by 520,000 tonnes per year. Not only is the new potline (Potline 3) the longest in the global aluminium industry, at 1.7 km; but also the highest-ever start-up rate across the Gulf Cooperation Council (“GCC”) region was achieved with six pots per day energised for 21 days straight.

The energisation of the last cell took place on 10 June 2014, witnessed by a high level delegation including members of the Board of Directors of Emirates Global Aluminium PJSC (“EGA”) – the new UAE-based aluminium conglomerate of which EMAL has become an operating subsidiary. The milestone was reached three months ahead of schedule. As a result, the new potline is expected to produce a total of 471,000 tonnes of molten metal from start-up in 2013 to the end of 2014 – approximately 77,000 tonnes more than the original FEED studies.

Speaking at the cell start-up, Saeed Al Mazrooei (CEO of UAE Operations at EGA) said, “Following the completion of Phase II, the smelter at EMAL will have a nameplate capacity of 1.32 million tonnes per year. By energising the cells ahead of schedule, EMAL is expected to produce 1.2 million tonnes in 2014. This will catapult EGA into a leading position in the global industry. We are very proud of our Emirati-lead project team utilising Emirati smelter technology to achieve this mega smelter, which has placed EGA among the top five smelters in the world outside China, by tonnage; and ranked the UAE as the fourth largest aluminium producing country in the world.”

Al Mazrooei added that the commissioning of Potline 3 was fast-tracked from the start. “The first cell was energised on 9 September 2013 with the first hot metal being delivered to the casthouse a week later on 16 September 2013 – three months ahead of schedule,” he explains. “This allowed a return on the investment in EMAL Phase II to begin earlier, too.”

EMAL Phase II also comprised an upgrade of the 756 cells (housed in two potlines) built during EMAL Phase I, which raised the plant’s initial production capacity to 800,000 tonnes.

Importantly, the EMAL Phase II project maintained and even built-on the impressive safety records achieved in the construction and operational phases of EMAL Phase I. Despite more than 20,000 employees working around the clock to build and commission the additional potline, EMAL Phase II achieved 42 million work-hours without lost time injuries (“LTIs”). The site’s sustained excellence in terms of safety performance parameters earned EMAL the prestigious 2014 Gold Award for Occupational Health and Safety from the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (“RoSPA”). This was the second consecutive year that EMAL won the RoSPA Gold award, reaffirming the operations’ leading position in occupational health and safety across diverse industrial sectors.

EMAL Phase II incorporates DX+ Technology, the best-in-class reduction technology developed in-house and proprietary to Dubai Aluminium (“DUBAL”) – another operating subsidiary of EGA. Operating at 440 kA (the highest amperage in the GCC region), the DX+ Technology cells at EMAL are ultimately designed to operate at 460 kA, yielding greater productivity at lower specific energy consumption levels and with reduced environmental impact.

Reflecting an on-going quest to be bigger and better, the completion of Phase II has secured EMAL a long list of industry accolades. These include the world’s largest gas treatment centre; the world’s biggest anode baking furnace; the biggest single-site captive power station (3,100 MW); the highest single-line capacity green anode manufacturing plant (1.08 million tonnes per year); and the largest single-site casthouse (capacity of 1.65 million tonnes per year).

The ceremony to mark the last cell energised at EMAL Phase II also included speeches by Yousuf Bastaki (Vice President: Projects), who spearheaded the construction phase; Najeeba Al Jabri (Senior Manager: Engineering & Asset Management), who lead the energisation of Potline 3; and Abdulla Kalban (MD & CEO of EGA).