Emirates Aluminium (Emal) is due to start approaching banks to finance its $5bn second-stage expansion of its Taweelah aluminium plant in June.

The expansion is also set to benefit from the addition of a fourth export credit agency (ECA) to the financing group. Export-Import Bank of Korea (Kexim) has joined the ECA group, which already consisted of Export Import Bank of the US (US Exim), France’s Coface and Germany’s Hermes.

Sources close to the project say that negotiations with the four ECAs are now approaching a conclusion, paving the way for banks to be approached with requests for commercial funding in June. Financial close is understood to be targeted for October.

The sponsors behind the project, Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Company and Dubai Aluminium (Dubal), are also planning to issue a project bond to fund the expansion.

Banks were expected to be approached to fund the deal much earlier in the year, but ECA negotiations have taken longer to complete than first anticipated. “Talks with the ECAs are nearly completed now,” says one source close to the project.

Once in place, the financing will sit alongside the existing $4.8bn of loans arranged for the first phase of the project in 2008.

The UK’s Royal Bank of Scotland is advising Emal on the financing of the project.