Alba moots Maaden voyage

17 March 2006

Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) is in discussions with at least four potential partners about the possibility of investing in a bauxite mine. Upstream integration is a central part of Alba's strategy, as it prepares for a possible sixth potline expansion (see Special Report, pages 38-41).

Discussions are also under way with Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) about participating in its integrated alumina refinery and aluminium smelter project. 'We are looking at various types of involvement in the Maaden project but it is also talking to other potential investors,' Alba chairman Mohamed Alghatam told MEED on 11 March.

However, the main consideration as to whether to proceed with line 6 will be availability of gas feedstock. 'We are waiting for the outcome of gas import negotiations before a decision can be made,' said Alghatam. The US' Bechtel, which carried out the fifth potline expansion, has submitted a feasibility study on both line 6 - which would have capacity of at least 310,000 tonnes a year (t/y) - and the potential doubling of capacity at Alba's coke calcination plant to 1.2 million t/y.

Plans are also being drawn up for a possible initial public offering (IPO) of Alba's shares, which are currently 77 per cent government-owned. 'I have been given until the end of 2008 to come up with a proposal,' said Alghatam.

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