The Yemen venture is the second plant planned by Balexco outside Bahrain. The company received approval last year to build a facility of a similar size near Doha. However, the $40 million project has experienced some delays due to the relocation of the proposed construction site to an industrial estate being built on the Salwa road (MEED 20:7:01).

The company expects to issue a tender for the main construction package in the first quarter of 2003. QatarIslamic Bank is Balexco’s joint venture partner on the Qatari project.

The construction of both plants will triple Balexco’s aluminium requirement to 36,000 t/y. ‘Our core business is extrusion and finishing,’ says Ali al-Abbasi, Balexco general manager. ‘We don’t want to rely solely on producing more aluminium products we also want to expand geographically.’

Aluminium feedstock for both plants will come from Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), which is in the process of increasing its capacity to more than 800,000 t/y of aluminium from about 514,000 t/y (MEED 26:7:02).

Alba supplies 50 per cent of its metal to downstream manufacturers in Bahrain. The major buyers are Midal Cables, Balexco, Aluwheel, Bahrain Alloys Manufacturing Company(Bamco)and Gulf Aluminium Rolling Mill Company (Garmco). ‘One of the main reasons behind our expansion is growing demand from our domestic customers,’ says a spokesperson for Alba.