Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) has seconded 10 young UAE National engineers abroad as part of its preparations for the start-up of its AED 11 billion Al Taweelah alumina refinery next year.

EGA’s young engineers have been seconded for five months to Ma’aden in Saudi Arabia, the only operating alumina refinery in the region, to gain experience of a new industrial process for the UAE.

In total 27 UAE Nationals are set to be seconded to Ma’aden over the course of this year as part of their training.

EGA’s Al Taweelah alumina refinery is the first to be built in the UAE and is currently the largest construction project in the country’s aluminium industry.

Once it is in production in 2018, the Al Taweelah alumina refinery will directly employ 600 people. EGA is targeting 25 per cent Emiratisation at supervisory level from day one.

The secondees will take up positions at the new plant in production, maintenance and process engineering, as well as in the alumina refinery’s laboratory.

Zaher Ghanem, EGA’s Senior Vice President of Al Taweelah alumina refinery said: “EGA has developed deep local engineering experience in aluminium smelting since the 1970s. At the Al Taweelah alumina refinery we need to develop that local experience from scratch, and we are grateful to our friends at Ma’aden for their support.”

EGA is also recruiting experienced alumina refining experts from countries as diverse as Jamaica and Australia.

The Al Taweelah alumina refinery will help reduce the UAE’s dependence on imported alumina, the main feedstock for aluminium smelters. The refinery will be capable of producing two million tonnes per year of alumina, three-quarters of the alumina needs of EGA’s Al Taweelah smelter and 40 per cent of EGA’s total requirement.

EGA’s aluminium is the largest made-in-the-UAE export after oil and gas.

EGA also provides about 12 per cent of its production to downstream companies in the UAE which make products from its metal. The aluminium industry as a whole employs around 30,000 people, making it the largest employer amongst the UAE’s energy intensive industries.

The Al Taweelah alumina refinery itself is expected to contribute AED 1 billion per year to the UAE’s gross domestic product once it is in production.