AluNews - April 2015

Rusal says may idle 200,000 tonnes of aluminium capacity

Daily Times - April 23rd, 2015

Top global aluminium producer United Company Rusal said on Wednesday it was reviewing its aluminium smelting operations and may idle a further 200,000 tonnes of capacity.

Rusal, which has cut capacity by 800,000 tonnes in the past two years, said its first quarter aluminium production came in at 900,000 tonnes, down two percent on the previous quarter, but up two percent on a year ago.

The Hong Kong-listed company said it expected calendar 2015 production to be flat on the previous year. Deputy CEO Oleg Mukhamedshin said in March that Rusal was considering shuttering some production due to the weak price outlook and a desire to shift production to cleaner energy sources. The company is looking to have almost all of its production using electricity from hydroelectric power plants.

The review follows weak global aluminium prices and a halving in premiums this year in parts of Asia as China has stepped up exports of semi-manufactured products and logjams at London Metal Exchange warehouses have unwound. Premiums are a delivery surcharge paid to obtain metal.

Oman Aluminium to double production by 2017

Trade Arabia - April 17th, 2015

Oman Aluminium Rolling (OARC) plans to double production by 2017 with exports to the US, India and Italy, said the company's chief commercial officer.

Production at the $385-million OARC plant at the Sohar Industrial Estate will reach 140,000 tonnes of aluminium parts from about 70,000 tonnes in 2014, Graham Bruce was quoted as saying in an interview at the Aluminium Middle East conference in Dubai, UAE in a Muscat Daily report.

According to Bruce, OARC is benefiting from a perception that aluminium products made in the Middle East are 10 per cent cheaper than the rest of the world because of lower electricity and natural gas costs, the report said.

"There's a lot of interest from Korea and India," he said, adding that aluminium prices will probably trade between $1,700 to $1,800 a tonne for the rest of the year.

Demand for aluminium from Saudi Arabia may increase over its plans to build 20 football stadiums and rail networks, Bruce noted.

Rio Tinto posts strong Q1 results, ramping up Pilbara output to 290Mt/y

Mining Weekly - April 15th, 2015

PERTH ( – Mining giant Rio Tinto has again set a new production benchmark at its iron-ore operations in the Pilbara, as it ramped up towards capacity of 290-million tonnes a year.

"Rio Tinto has started the year with a series of performance records as we continue to drive productivity gains across our operations," said CEO Sam Walsh on Tuesday.

"Our Pilbara iron-ore business has again set new benchmarks for production, shipments and rail volumes for the first quarter, and we are well on track to reach nameplate capacity of 290-million tonnes a year by the first half of 2014."

During the three months ended March, Rio's iron-ore production increased to 66.4-million tonnes, up 8% on the previous corresponding period. This was a record first-quarter production for the company.

Iron-ore shipments for the period was also up by 16% on the previous corresponding period to 66.7-million tonnes.

However, first-quarter iron-ore production was below fourth-quarter levels, owing to disruption caused by seasonal weather patterns. Tropical cyclone Christine closed Rio's Pilbara ports and coastal rail operations in late December. Heavy rainfall associated with the cyclone and other adverse weather conditions in January and February impacted across mine, rail and port operations.

Meanwhile, mined copper increased by 17% on the previous quarter, to 156 500 t, with the Kennecott Utah operation, in the US, delivering a 44% increase in production on the back of higher grades at the mine and improved recoveries at the concentrator.

"Our mined copper production benefitted from higher ore grades at Kennecott Utah Copper and production ramp-up at Oyu Tolgoi," Walsh said.

The Oyu Tolgoi mine, in Mongolia, produced 25 300 t of copper and 65 500 oz of gold in the first quarter of the year, with the higher grades being offset by lower throughput owing to post-commissioning issues that required the shutdown of one grinding circuit.

Full production at Oyu Tolgoi restarted in March.

Rio also reported on Tuesday that coal production for the three months to March improved, compared with the previous corresponding period, owing to a productivity improvement programme.

Hard coking coal production was up 14% on the previous corresponding period, to 1.9-million tonnes, while semi-soft and thermal coal production was up by 12%, to 6.8-million tonnes.

Bauxite production and shipments also reached record highs during the quarter under review, driven by a ramp-up in production at the Weipa mine, in South Australia, to feed the newly expanded Yarwun alumina refinery.

Bauxite production for the quarter increased to more than 10-million tonnes, while alumina production increased by 17% on the previous corresponding period to 1.8-million tonnes.

Work to start on masterplan for former Lynemouth aluminium smelter following site sale

The Journal - April 16th, 2015

'The Lynemouth site fits very well with the rest of our property portfolio in the North East,' said Owen Michaelson, CEO of Harworth Group.

The new owners of the former Lynemouth aluminium smelter are to begin work on a masterplan for the site, saying it is ripe for development.

The 320-acre site in Northumberland has been bought for an undisclosed sum by Harworth Estates, the former real estate arm of UK Coal, who have indicated its potential for commercial development.

The deal represents the firm's second major non-coalfield acquisition and adds to its large portfolio of UK regeneration sites across the north of England and the Midlands.

Land sold includes the site of the former Rio Tinto aluminium smelter, and is separate to the site of the Lynemouth power station, which was sold to a subsidiary of RWE npower, and surrounding farmland, which was sold to the Crown Estate.

Richard Anderson, environment manager at former owners Rio Tinto, said: "Our marketing of the site attracted a great deal of interest from a wide range of sectors.

"After lengthy consideration and due diligence, we decided the offer from Harworth Estates gave the best prospect of securing sustainable long-term employment on the site given their exceptional track record of successfully regenerating redundant industrial sites."

Since the sale, Rio Tinto has completed decommissioning of the Lynemouth site, which was once the base of Northumberland's biggest private sector employer.

The process involved the removal of smelting infrastructure, the demolition of some outbuildings, including the carbon plant, and some remedial work on the land.

The main potroom building remains standing, although the machinery has been removed and the building cleaned so that it can be adapted for any future use, or potentially demolished. Following cleaning the site's operating permit has been returned to industry regulator, the Environment Agency.

Owen Michaelson, chief executive of Harworth Group plc, said: "The Lynemouth site fits very well with the rest of our property portfolio in the North East, given we own a number of sites planned for regeneration at Butterwell, Ellington, Widdrington and a site adjacent to the smelter site.

"As we take the site forward to the occupier market we will be emphasising its many benefits including access via rail to the Port of Blyth.

"Our specialist team has significant experience developing large-scale brownfield sites and transforming them into places of lasting economic and social regeneration. We look forward to working closely with the local community and other partners with an interest in the prosperity of Northumberland in doing the same at Lynemouth."

A spokesman for Harworth Estates said consultation with residents, the local council, the Local Enterprise Partnership and local businesses would start later this year, in order to develop a masterplan.

The spokesman, who described Harworth Estates as a "responsible regeneration company", said engagement is crucial to the success of any future development.

Sir Alan Beith, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Berwick upon Tweed, added: "This is excellent news for Lynemouth and the surrounding area. I hope the development of the site, and the creation of new jobs, can begin quickly."

Councillor Allan Hepple, Policy Board Member for Planning, Housing and Regeneration at Northumberland County Council, said, "This is a good deal for the county and fits in with our strategic plans for economic growth. It raises the prospect of significant investment and job creation at Lynemouth.

"With its size, location and surrounding infrastructure the site has enormous potential for development and the county council will work closely with Harworth Estates to attract businesses that will create good quality, long-term jobs."

Last November Harworth bought the 162-acre site of the former Skelton Grange power station near Leeds from RWE Generation. The company already manages more than 200 sites across the North and Midlands, totalling more than 27,000 acres.

UAE has no plan to increase aluminium production capacity

Yahoo News Network - April 15th, 2015

Gulf producers to account for 10% of global output due to new smelters and expansion of existing ones

The volume of aluminium production in the Gulf region is expected to increase to five million tonnes in 2015, accounting for around 10 per cent of total global output of 55.01 million tonnes, due to new smelters and the expansion of existing ones.

In 2014, the Gulf region produced 4.83 million tonnes while 53.06 million tonnes were produced globally.

Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer, Vice-Chairman of Emirates Global Aluminium and MD and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), after inaugurating the fourth edition of Aluminium Middle East 2015 on Tuesday, told Gulf News that UAE has no plan to increase its production capacity of 2.4 million tonnes this year.

"That is the maximum production capacity and we will continue it for the time being," he said.

According to an industry expert, the UAE produced 2.3 million tonnes last year and is nearing maximum capacity.

On whether UAE plans to set up more refineries, Al Tayer said: "No comment".

He said the current production capacity is enough to meet the needs.

"We supply 300,000 tonnes to the local market and the rest is exported to 35 countries," he said.

The UAE is the world's fourth largest aluminium producer, accounting for over 50 per cent of the Gulf's aluminium production, with exports worth $3.9 billion.

Abdullah bin Kalban, CEO and Managing Director of Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), said that $15 billion has been invested between 2005 and now in improving the production capacity and has plans for $5 billion to be invested in the future to enhance capacity.

According to statistics, the Gulf industry is growing by 8.4 per cent annually, compared to an average annual global expansion of 3.5 per cent, making the Middle East the fastest growing aluminium market in the world.

The Gulf has six operating smelters — Alba, Dubal, Emal, Qatalum, Sohar and EGA.

The $3 billion alumina refinery in the capital by Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), the world's fourth biggest aluminium producer and formed from the merger between Emirates Aluminium (Emal) and Dubai Aluminium (Dubal), is expected to be operational by 2017 with a capacity to produce four million tonnes annually.

"As the Gulf sector continues to strengthen its share in the global market, it presents tremendous new opportunities for international industry players," said Daniyal Qureshi, group exhibition director at Reed Exhibitions Middle East, organisers of the event.

He said that Gulf's aluminium production is increasing by 8.4 per cent annually, compared to a global average of 3.5 per cent, making the Middle East as the fastest growing market in the world. The production capacity in Oman, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain is increasing considerably, apart from EGA and Emal.

According to a study by EC Harris, the UAE is projected to spend $329 billion on major construction projects by 2030. Big projects, which cost more than $1 billion, are due to peak in the UAE by 2016.

Datang International Produces 110,000 Tonnes of Alumina Annually Using Coal Ash

Shanghai Metals Market - April 14th, 2015

Inner Mongolia Datang International Renewable Resource Development Co. produces 110,000 tonnes of alumina each year using coal ash, a waste generated during thermal power generation, local media reported yesterday.

The company's subsidiary, Datang Tuoke Power Plant, generates over 4 million tonnes of coal ash annually, providing sufficient raw materials for alumina production.

ME aluminium production growing at impressive rates

Khaleej Times - April 13th, 2015

The UAE is the world's fourth-largest aluminium producer.

Aluminium production in the Middle East is growing at more than double the global average rate, and the trend is expected to continue, according to an industry expert.

"The region is witnessing an 8.4 per cent annual growth in aluminium production compared to the global average of 3.5 per cent," Reed Exhibitions' group exhibition director Daniyal Qureshi, told Khaleej Times ahead of the fourth edition of the Aluminium Middle East event, which starts tomorrow.

The UAE is the world's fourth-largest aluminium producer. China ranked top followed by Russia and Canada in terms of production. The UAE produces almost half of the total aluminium production of the Gulf region. Last year, the country's total production reached 2.4 million tonnes and exports worth $3.9 billion, according to Qureshi, while Gulf countries' total aluminium production recorded at nearly five million tonnes in 2014, he said. GCC countries export almost 70 per cent of the total production.

It is expected that Gulf countries will account for nearly 20 per cent of the world's total aluminium production this year, Qureshi said.

Talking about the forthcoming Aluminium Middle East, he mentioned that the industry is growing year on year and the show is also growing significantly. "This year, we expect more than 4,000 trade visitors compared to 3,523 visitors at the last edition," he said.

Organised by Reed Exhibitions Middle East, the three-day biennial show — which was launched in 2009 — will be held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre and will have a participation of over 200 exhibitors from 25 countries.

Aluminium Middle East has grown significantly since the beginning of the show in 2009 in terms of exhibitors. Providing statistics, Qureshi said that the show started with 165 exhibitors and over 3,000 professionals visited the first show.

To be held under the slogan "Forging Connections, Building Possibilities", the exhibition will help the region's aluminium industry reach a new level of extraordinary growth. It is the biggest specialised exhibition for the aluminium industry in the region. The event will highlight the Middle East's future role as the world's powerhouse in aluminium production.

Also, the Middle East Aluminium Summit, being organised by Metalworld at the sidelines of Aluminium Middle East 2015, will discuss market behavior, emerging applications and new technologies associated with this "21st-century metal".

Responding to a question, Qureshi said that there is a potential to organise the show on annual basis. "We are considering this proposal and we will speak to industry people at the event."

He added: "We have got 150 buyers from the Middle East for the show. We are looking at more 500 plus pre-scheduled meetings between buyers in the Middle East and global suppliers."

FourWinds plans $500m Abu Dhabi aluminium project and educational complex investment

The National - April 11th, 2015

The privately-held FourWinds Group of Companies plans to develop an aluminium project and an educational complex in Abu Dhabi for a total cost of about US$500 million.

The group is keen to expand its operations in Abu Dhabi's industrial sector, particularly in the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad), a free zone that houses the smelter Emirates Aluminium (Emal) and Khalifa Port.

FourWinds, which invests in property, infrastructure, industry and natural resources, is focused on the automotive parts industry in Abu Dhabi.

"We have a strategy in aluminium and we are negotiating an [aluminium] facility in the proximity of Emal to actually manufacture again for the automotive industry certain aluminium components. We are already negotiating offtake agreements with certain buyers in Europe at the moment," said Vivek Rao, the chief executive of FourWinds Capital Management and acting chief executive of FourWinds project development.

That project, to be located in Kizad, will cost between US$250 million and $300m.

The firm announced last month an agreement to build a 300,000 tonnes per year steel plant to produce automotive parts at a total cost estimated at $600m. The plant will be one of the largest single-source foundries in the world producing car parts, the company said last month.

The steel foundry, FourWinds' first investment in this country, will be built over three phases, with phase one producing 75,000 tonnes of brake disks and callipers and costing Dh514m. Exports from the foundry will be used by major marques such as BMW, VW and Mercedes-Benz and the makers of car parts, such as Germany's Continental.

"We have had a long-standing relationship with the automotive industry and as a result of which we found it very profitable and discernible to actually exploit the local energy and low labour cost to actually manufacture some of these components which are actually being manufactured by Oems [original equipment manufactures] in Europe," said Mr Rao.

"If you make the comparison price difference to the likes of Continental etc, it is pretty significantly different and that's why they find it attractive to actually look at fostering a manufacturing base in this region. So the automotive sector is still with healthy margins."

Both projects are being financed 30 per cent equity and 70 per cent by bank loans, Mr Rao said.

FourWinds is also looking at investing in education in Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with institutions from the United States and Europe. Its schools project, which will target the local Emirati population, is expected to cost as much as Dh800m.

The FourWinds investment is one of a series of initiatives in Abu Dhabi to boost the contribution of the non-oil sector to the economy, create downstream industries and jobs.

According to the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, the non-oil sector is expected to contribute 64 per cent of GDP by 2030.

Non-oil activities contributed 45 per cent to the emirate's GDP in 2013, versus 43 per cent in 2012, according to the Economic Report of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi 2014.

Investment in steel manufacturing is on the rise in the emirate. The Senaat conglomerate plans to develop a Dh1.1 billion steel plant that will create 370 jobs in Kizad.

Senaat has entered into a joint venture with two Japanese steel makers, JFE Steel and Marubeni-Itochu Steel, to build steel pipes for industrial use.

The new company, Al Gharbia Pipe, will reduce the country's reliance on steel pipe imports while exporting 40 per cent of its production, Senaat executives said last month.

Elsewhere in the region, FourWinds plans to invest in a billet and rebars manufacturing facility in Saudi Arabia at a cost of about 700m Saudi riyals (Dh685.4m). The plant will provide rollings mills with products and could also export to the region, which has a big construction industry, Mr Rao said. The firm is also eyeing real estate projects in the Saudi capital Riyadh and the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.

But FourWinds' biggest investment in the region is an $11bn project to build the world's largest single-site coal-fired power plant at a capacity of 6000 megawatts in Egypt. The project, which was announced at the investment conference Egypt the Future in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El Sheikh last month, is in partnership with FourWinds' parent company, Tharwa Investments.

The project, which will be built in phases, is expected to be financed by Tharwa, FourWinds, banks and export credit agencies (Ecas), such as the Korean and Japanese Ecas.

The firm has also announced a $1bn fund dedicated to infrastructure investments in Egypt, which is experiencing a resurgence of investor interest on the back of economic reforms and an improving political environment.

FourWinds, which has offices in Boston, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and London, is majority owned by Tharwa, which is made up of regional high net-worth individuals.

The FourWinds project development arm invests in projects in the property, infrastructure, industrial and natural resources space. Its FourWinds capital management arm invests in sectors such as commodities, energy, metals, agriculture, timber, waste and water.

New aluminium battery for smartphones can be charged in a minute

Thomson Reuters - April 7th, 2015

U.S. scientists said they have invented a cheap, long-lasting and flexible battery made of aluminium for use in smartphones that can be charged in as little as one minute.

The researchers, who detailed their discovery in the journal Nature, said the new aluminium-ion battery has the potential to replace lithium-ion batteries, used in millions of laptops and mobile phones.

Besides recharging much faster, the new aluminium battery is safer than existing lithium-ion batteries, which occasionally burst into flames, they added.

Researchers have long tried but failed to develop a battery made of aluminium, a lightweight and relatively inexpensive metal that has high charging capacity.

A team led by chemistry professor Hongjie Dai at Stanford University in California made a breakthrough by accidentally discovering that graphite made a good partner to aluminium, Stanford said in a statement.

In a prototype, aluminium was used to make the negatively-charged anode while graphite provided material for the positively charged cathode.

A prototype aluminium battery recharged in one minute, the scientists said.

"Lithium-ion batteries can be a fire hazard," said Dai. "Our new battery won't catch fire, even if you drill through it."

The new battery is also very durable and flexible, the scientists said.

While lithium-ion batteries last about 1,000 cycles, the new aluminium battery was able to continue after more than 7,500 cycles without loss of capacity. It also can be bent or folded.

Larger aluminium batteries could also be used to store renewable energy on the electrical grid, Dai said.

Malaysian Bauxite Exports to China Could Soar to Over 8 Million Tonnes in 2015

Connect To Asia - April 3rd, 2015

China's imports of Malaysian bauxite could balloon to 8-10 million tonnes in 2015, Liu Xiaolei, aluminum analyst at SMM said during the recent 2015 Shanghai Copper & Aluminum Summit. China has diversified its sources of…

The decline of aluminium production in South America

Gulf Times - April 1st, 2015

US aluminium producer Alcoa has this week announced the full shuttering of the Alumar smelter in Brazil.

Alcoa and minority partner BHP Billiton curtailed two potlines at the 440,000-tonnes-per-year plant over the course of 2013 and 2014. Now the third and last will also be mothballed.

It's the fifth, and largest, Brazilian smelter to be shuttered since 2009 – a major retreat for what was once one of the world's top producing countries.

And it's symptomatic of a broader decline in primary aluminium production in South America.

A region that was once a major exporter is now becoming increasingly dependent on imports, a tectonic change in flows with major implications for aluminium pricing.

The first, 127,000-tonnes-per-year, potline at the Alumar smelter in the Brazilian state of Maranhao was fired up in 1984.

A second line, at 156,000 tonnes per year, followed in 1986 with a third launched in 1990.

This was a period of rapid expansion of primary aluminium capacity in Brazil.

Operators were attracted by the country's seemingly abundant hydropower and the resulting cheap electricity prices, a key cost input in aluminium smelting.

True, a warning of things to come occurred when Alumar was forced to reduce output in 2001 due to compulsory power rationing. But the joint owners were still sufficiently confident in the plant's future to expand the third potline in 2006.

Now, though, the smelter is one of the highest-cost in Alcoa's portfolio, which is why the company has been incrementally trimming its output since 2013.

The final cut comes after the company said on March 6 it was placing 500,000 tonnes of annual smelting capacity under review for mothballing, closure and sale.

Alumar is the first, and by inference the most economically compelling, casualty of that review. Alumar's story is symptomatic of the broader decline in Brazil's primary aluminium sector.

Alcoa's Pocos de Caldas smelter in the state of Minas Gerais was the company's first foray into Brazil back in 1970. It has been fully shuttered since May of last year.

The Valesul smelter was closed in 2009, while Novelis closed its Aratu plant in 2010 and its Ouro Preto plant in 2014.

There are now only two primary smelters left operating in Brazil: Hydro's 460,000-tonnes-per-year Albras and CBA's 475,000-tonnes-per-year Sorocaba. National production has fallen from a peak of 1.67mn tonnes in 2007 to 962,000 tonnes in 2014.

Annualised production was running at just 828,000 tonnes in February, according to the latest figures from Brazilian aluminium association ABAL.

With the full curtailment of Alumar, it will fall even further. The sector's shrinkage is largely attributable to rising power costs. Hydropower, which seemed so plentiful back in the 1990s, has turned out to be an increasingly scarce resource after years of chronic drought.

Faced with historically low reservoir levels, Brazil will have to import power from Argentina and Uruguay this year. Even that may not be enough to avert power rationing if the rainy season fails to live up to expectations. Such constraints represent a major challenge for power-hungry smelters, particularly at a time of low prices and compressed producer margins.

Venezuela's two smelters, both owned by the government, have so far avoided closure but are doing no more than limping along. Here the prime cause of steadily dwindling production is the combination of years of underinvestment and labour unrest. Venalum has a capacity of 430,000 tonnes per year but it hasn't produced anything close to that since 2009.

A management report, quoted by local newspaper El Universal in January 2014, lamented the fact that only 262 production cells out of 905 were operating at the end of 2013 due to a lack of raw materials, supplies, equipment and spare parts.

Production last year declined further to just 110,000 tonnes and the company has warned customers it will no longer be able to meet industry-standard purity levels due to its "difficult financial situation". Some of those customers, a Japanese consortium, have been trying to negotiate the sale of their stake for years.
If anything, Venezuela's other primary smelter, the 170,000-tonnes-per-year Alcasa plant, is faring even worse with output last year running at just 17% of capacity. Production from Venezuela, like Brazil once a smelting powerhouse and a major exporter to world markets, hit a 30-year low in 2014, according to the industry ministry's annual report.

The only other primary smelter in South America is Argentina's Aluar, which seems to be still operating, having narrowly avoided a cut-off of its power supplies early last year.

Brazil Aluminium - São Luís (Alumar) Facility

noodls - March 30th, 2015

BHP Billiton today announced that South32 has agreed with Alcoa, its joint venture partner and operator of the Alumar aluminium smelter, to suspend potline I from 15 April 2015. This follows the suspensions of potlines II and III in the prior financial year due to market conditions. All three potlines have been and will continue to be subject to ongoing review, having regard to market conditions.

The temporary suspension of the smelter does not impact operations at the Alumar refinery or Mineração Rio do Norte bauxite mine.

The decision to suspend production at the Alumar smelter will not have a material financial impact for South32 or BHP Billiton.

South32 Brazil Aluminium

South32's Brazil Aluminium business comprises a 14.8 per cent interest in the Mineração Rio do Norte open-cut bauxite mine (MRN Mine), a 36 per cent interest in the Alumar alumina refinery and a 40 per cent interest in the Alumar smelter. ?