Hydro said on 23 March that construction on the project is expected to begin in mid-2007, with the first metal to be produced in late 2009 and full production set for mid-2010. ‘The schedule is based on final build decisions to be made in 2007, following a phase of ongoing concept selection and detailed engineering,’ it said.

Qatalum will procure the gas and the site from QP while Hydro will supply the alumina and potline technology. In addition, the Norwegian company will be in charge of marketing the aluminium and be involved in project managing the complex.

Tendering has recently begun on the Qatalum complex. Bids have been invited by 24 May for the contract to provide front-end engineering and design (FEED) and price services for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) package for the potroom building and services area. The prequalifiers include US-based Bechtel, the US’ Fluor Corporation with K Home Engineering of the UK, Canada’s SNC Lavalin and Paris-based Technip. In addition, prequalification is ongoing for the site preparation contract.

Qatalum may undertake a second-phase development of the Mesaieed smelter which will take capacity up to 1.2 million t/y.