Delegates at the conference in Luxor, Egypt heard that Middle East production could double to 8Mt/y by 2020.

Production will exceed regional demand so the Middle East’s role as an exporter will be increasingly important with China and possibly Europe the main markets.

The Gulf Aluminium Council’s general secretary Mahmood Daylami told the conference that Gulf production had doubled every 10 years since 1980, currently standing at about 4Mt/y.

With project expansions and the opening of new smelters this figure is likely to increase to 8Mt/y by 2020, with the Middle East then making up about 10% of world primary production.

CRU Analysis head of aluminium and primary products, Marco Georgiou, had earlier told delegates that, in terms of new smelters and project expansions, the Middle East was in a good position due to its location. It has fairly easy access to Europe, the USA, India and China to ship its products.

Metal Bulletin’s managing director Raju Daswani said Europe could have a key role to play on Middle East production.

Much of Europe’s production was idled during the recent downturn and is unlikely to restart. Demand is set to increase by 2020 so a lot of primary metal will have to be imported.

Mr Daswani said the Middle East could fill this gap, but Europe will face competition from China for the Middle East’s aluminium exports as China’s demand increases.

A comprehensive report of the 14th Arab International Aluminium Conference will be published in the January/February 2011 issue of Aluminium International Today.