UAE-based Mubadala and Dubai Aluminium (Dubal) have awarded three contracts on a feasibility study to build an alumina refinery in Abu Dhabi after completing preliminary studies on the project.

A joint venture of US-based Bechtel and Petrofac Emirates – a local joint venture of UK-based Petrofac and Mubadala Petroleum Services – were appointed to carry out the feasibility study.

In addition, two agreements have been signed to secure technologies to support the study. A joint venture of Canada’s Hatch Associates and Finnish minerals processing group Outotec were awarded one contract, while Canadian aluminium firm Rio Tinto Alcan was selected for its refinery technology.

The proposed refinery will use bauxite to extract alumina (aluminium oxide), which is then used as a raw material to produce primary aluminium in a smelter. It will be located near the Emirates Aluminium (Emal) smelter in Khalifa Industrial Zone of Abu Dhabi (Kizad), located midway between the cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

A metals park has been planned by Abu Dhabi at Kizad for several years. The Emal smelter has a capacity of 750,000 tonnes a year (t/y) and is currently undergoing a phase two expansion that would double capacity.

In June it was announced Emal and Dubal will merge in a $15bn equal-ownership joint venture called Emirates Global Aluminium.