Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) has said it is engaged with several Export Credit Agencies (ECA) and still aims to secure a $1bn ECA-backed finance deal before the end of March for its sixth potline smelter expansion.

“Alba is in touch with many ECAs around the globe depending on where the company is sourcing its equipment,” the company said in a 17 January bourse filing. “On this line, more information will be shared in due time once the ECA financing is secured,” it added.

Alba has already closed a $1.5bn commercial finance tranche in October, which is also part of the overall financing package for the $3bn smelter expansion.

MEED reported in August that Alba was considering dropping a benchmark bond as an alternative mean of financing its expansion plans.

The Bahrain-based form is being advised by US’ JPMorgan, Gulf International Bank and National Bank of Bahrain.

The US dollar commercial bank finance has a seven-year term and an amortising structure. The senior unsecured conventional term-loan facility reached $882m and the senior shariah-compliant facility $618m, with 22 local, international and regional banks participating.

Alba had awarded the main engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract for the potline smelter to the US’ Bechtel. The contract for the 1,792MW fifth captive power plant was awarded to a consortium of the US’ GE and Turkey’s Gama Power Systems.

The project will make Alba the world’s largest single-site aluminium smelter, boosting the site’s production capacity by 540,000 tonnes a year (t/y) to 1.5 million t/y.