Sohar Aluminium, the largest non-hydrocarbon industrial venture in the Sultanate of Oman, achieved a new production record in 2015 - one of a slew of operational improvements logged by the company last year.
Aluminium production jumped from 363,528 tonnes in 2014 to 377,186 tonnes last year -the highest annual output in the company's history.
According to reports, this was achieved by operating at the highest amperage - 389kA at the end of the year, at targeted current efficiency and operating pots levels, and a production rate of 2,879 kg Al/pot/day - amongst the best in the world for this technology and amperage, the company said in its newly released Sustainability Report 2015.
"To achieve this feat, all departments across the smelter operated at significantly better levels than in previous years. The plant also achieved its best specific energy efficiency in the last five years at 13.7 kilowatt-hours/kilo. With the completion of the AP 39 lining, the plant is well on its way to operate at around 400kA efficiently. Metal purity levels improved significantly through the year contributing to outstanding customer satisfaction," it stated. Set up in 2004, the $2.4 billion venture is the product of a partnership between Oman Oil Company (40%), Abu Dhabi National Energy Company-TAQA (a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority) (40 per cent) and Rio Tinto Alcan, a global leader in aluminium.
The company's giant smelter located just outside Sohar Industrial Estate produces 375,000 tonnes of primary aluminium per year in the form of hot metal, ingots and sows from its world-class 1.2 km potline consisting of 360 pots. Electricity for the smelter is provided by the company's captive power plant in Port of Sohar, built with a total design capacity of 1,000 MW. SA also operates a dedicated port facility at the port, supporting vessels with a capacity of up to 75,000 metric tonnes for receiving raw materials and for exporting primary aluminium.
Significantly, an 'Amperage Creep' project designed to optimise metal production is targeted for completion by 2018 - one year ahead of schedule. Initiated in 2014, the project will enable the smelter to reach an operating level of 400 kA, thereby helping boost production of primary aluminium by around 28,000 tons per annum.
Over the last year, Sohar Aluminium also delivered a total of 82,750 tonnes of hot liquid aluminium to its downstream customers - Oman Aluminium Rolling Company (OARC) and Oman Aluminium Processing Industries Limited (OAPIL). Applauding the management and staff on the company's success in delivering on its sustainability objectives, Mulham Basheer Abdullah al Jarf, Chairman of the Board of Directors, said: "A decade since we first began our operations in Oman, I am pleased and proud to say that Sohar Aluminium has emerged as a leader in the Omani metals and industrial sector, a strong contributor to the Omani economy and a real agent of change in the North Al Batinah (Governorate)."
Said Mohamed al Masoudi, Chief Executive Officer, added: "As Sohar Aluminium moves forward with capital improvement programmes such as the amperage creep project, asset reliability and operational efficiency will gain prominence as a significant value creator. In 2015 the total Value Creation for the plant was an impressive $33.8 million."