Sohar Aluminium hot metal production soars to new record in 2019

MUSCAT, AUG 31 – Sohar Aluminium, the Sultanate’s biggest non-hydrocarbon based industrial investment when it was founded in 2004, achieved a record hot metal production of 390,516 tonnes in 2019, underscoring its ambitions to become the benchmark smelter in the Middle East. The production milestone comes on the 10th anniversary of operations of the $2.4 billion venture, which is jointly owned by the Omani government (40 per cent) represented by OQ — Oman’s integrated energy group; Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC — TAQA (40 per cent), and leading global mining group Rio Tinto (20 per cent).
Commencing production in 2010 with an annual capacity of 390,000 tonnes of high quality aluminium, hot metal output was up about 2.8 per cent from the previous year’s high of 379,775 tonnes. In contrast, output had slumped to 252,714 tonnes in 2017 when smelting operations were impacted by a technical glitch. Eng Said bin Mohammed al Masoudi, CEO — Sohar Aluminium (SA), said the production record was one of several milestones achieved by the company. “In 2019 following the improvements in place from 2018, SA hit the record of 390,449 tonnes of finished goods production with an energy consumption intensity of 13.99 MWh per tonne of aluminium. Moreover, the PFC (perfluorocarbon) emissions intensity decreased drastically by 72.7 per cent compared to 2018 due to significant Anode Effect rate improvement showing a renovated efficiency and productivity following the shut-down in 2017 and as a result of the maintenance and improvements carried in 2018 and 2019’’.
Purity levels of the finished product were also the highest in the company’s history with the lowest level of iron (Fe) per tonne of metal produced, Sohar Aluminium stated in its newly published Sustainability Report 2019.
Operating a single 1.2km long potline at its complex adjoining Sohar Industrial City, Sohar Aluminium also supports a thriving downstream aluminium processing cluster. Around 158K tonnes of hot metal from the smelter, representing about 40 per cent of total production, were supplied to three local offtakers Oman Aluminium Processing Industries (OAPIL), Oman Aluminium Rolling Company (OARC) and Oman Aluminium Cast (OAC). Local uptake of hot metal is projected to rise to around 60 per cent of total production when a new customer comes into operation at Sohar Industrial City later this year.
Sohar Aluminium’s operations are also supported by a 1000 MW gas-fired captive power plant located at Sohar Port. A dedicated berth at the port enables the handling of bulk carriers bringing alumina, which is ferried by conveyors to silos for the storage of alumina, as well as other feedstock notably petroleum coke and liquid pitch.