A senior official from the worlds largest aluminium manufacturer, Rio Tinto Alcan, has called on Middle East countries rich in natural gas to join forces with established aluminium producers to secure the future of the industry in the region.

Speaking at the MEED Middle East Aluminium 2010 conference being held in Dubai, Amir Michi, vice-president, business development for Rio Tinto Alcan, says the Middle East was ripe for growth.

Countries with a abundance of natural resources have much to gain by forming partnerships with primary aluminium manufacturers that have proven technology and a global reputation for performance and sustainable development, Michi says.

Natural gas rich countries such Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Libya have the potential to drive tremendous additional growth in the Middle East aluminium industry, he adds.

Rio Tinto Alcan has a number of interests in the Middle East including Oman’s Sohar Aluminium in which it has a 20% stake. In 2008, the company pulled out of a planned $10.8bn integrated aluminium project in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi Arabian Mining Company. UK/Canadian Alcoa has since replaced the company as partners in the project.