State mining agency Etibank has received some 40 expressions of interest in an estimated $315 million project to set up a joint venture to upgrade the Seydisehir aluminium smelter. The project will expand the plant’s capacity to 100,000 tonnes a year (t/y) from 60,000 t/y.

Etibank says the next stage will be the sale of bidding documents. The tender closing date is expected to be 26 August. The agency is expected eventually to have a share of between 15 and 49 per cent in the venture. The private sector stake, whether foreign or local, will be limited to 85 per cent.

The expansion project calls for the conversion of the plant’s 248 pots to a pre-baked anode method instead of the present Sonderberg anode system. Nearby bauxite mines producing about 310,000 tonnes a year will also be leased to the joint venture.

Etibank recently revived the project for the plant, about 350 kilometres south of Ankara. It was first proposed in 1992, but subsequently postponed by the government due to financial difficulties.