The scale of the project has been reduced to a smelter with capacity of 326,000 tonnes a year (t/y) from the initial plan to build a world-scale 500,000-t/y facility. ADWEA will handle the plant’s captive power requirements, which have also been shrunk to around 600-700 MW from the original proposal to build a 1,100-MW plant. According to Douglas, the next stage in the project will come with the issue of a preliminary information memorandum (PIM) for the long-term supply of aluminium ore. ‘This will happen in the first half of this year. Our schedule is to reach financial close by the middle of 2005,’ said Douglas.

Bechtel of the US and SNC Lavalinand Hatch Metals, both of Canada, are understood to have expressed an interest in carrying out the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) phase of the project. SNC along with Mott MacDonaldof the UK have completed the initial studies for the plant’s smelter and power unit. Total project costs have fallen to around $1,800 million from an initial estimate of $2,200 million. Douglas said that no decision has yet been taken on whether to retain Citigroup, which carried out the initial assessment of the scheme, for the financial advisory mandate.

In a presentation given at the MEED conference, Douglas went on to outline up to $10,000 million of project spending planned in the sultanate. He said that projects with a combined value of $3,200 million would reach financial close in 2004-05. These include a 340,000-t/y polypropylene plant, a 5,000-tonne-a-day (t/d) urea and ammonia plant and a 3,000-t/d methanol venture.