Emirates Global Aluminium, the largest industrial company in the United Arab Emirates outside oil and gas, announced the arrival of the first fully-laden Capesize vessel to call at any GCC port at its quay at Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi, inaugurating the import of bauxite for EGA’s new Al Taweelah alumina refinery using these huge bulk cargo vessels.

EGA imports bauxite ore from the Republic of Guinea to supply Al Taweelah alumina refinery, and using Capesize vessels reduces shipping costs per tonne.

Abu Dhabi Ports has modified the approaches to Khalifa Port to accommodate Capesize vessels bound for EGA, making it the first port in the Gulf able to accommodate these fully-loaded ships. The approaches have been deepened from 16.5 metres to 18.5 metres draft and widened from 250 metres to 280 metres.

With a draft of 18.2 metres fully-laden, Capesize vessels are amongst the largest bulk cargo ships in the world.

At other ports, Capesize vessels must be partially unloaded offshore before they can dock at the port safely.

The enhanced capability of Khalifa Port enables new trade opportunities, supporting other local industries and boosting Abu Dhabi as a regional maritime hub. Last month, the world’s largest container ship MV Solar berthed at Khalifa Port for the first time.

Capesize vessels are up to 300 metres long – more than the length of two football fields – and 50 metres wide. They can carry around 180,000 tonnes of bauxite ore.

Abdulla Kalban, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of EGA, said: “The arrival of Cape Taweelah is a landmark moment for EGA, but these huge ships will become a familiar sight at Khalifa Port over the years ahead. We are glad Abu Dhabi Ports addressed our need to bring Capesize vessels to our quay and decided to further develop the capabilities of Khalifa Port, also benefitting trade in Abu Dhabi and the UAE more broadly.”

Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Ports, said: “Welcoming this Capesize ship at EGA marks another first for Abu Dhabi’s maritime and trade industry, and demonstrates our commitment to ongoing innovation and expansion in response to market and tenant demands. Our investment in deepening and widening the channel has created better business opportunities for all partners, including CSP Abu Dhabi, which recently received one of the largest container vessels at Khalifa Port with a capacity of 21,000 TEU.”

EGA’s Al Taweelah alumina refinery is the first in the UAE and only the second in the Middle East. The plant converts bauxite ore into alumina, the feedstock for aluminium smelters, and is expected to meet 40 per cent of EGA’s alumina needs once fully ramped-up. EGA invested some $3.3 billion to build Al Taweelah alumina refinery, which began production in April.

Khalifa Port is located halfway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai and is one of the most efficient and technologically advanced in the world, currently serving 25 shipping lines. KIZAD, one the region’s largest industrial zones, and a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Ports, covers 410 square kilometres adjacent to Khalifa Port.

Capesize vessels are too large to transit the Panama Canal and must round the southernmost point of mainland South America (Cape Horn) to transit between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Historically they were also too large to transit the Suez Canal.

Cape Taweelah, is operated by the shipping company K-Line and UAE local agent Sharaf Shipping, and is one of several Capesize vessels built to transport EGA’s bauxite to the UAE.