EMAL is looking towards the end of 2012 to finalise financing arrangements for a $4.5Bn expansion programme, including the construction of what it claims will be the world’s biggest smelter.

The company plans to boost annual output from 800Kt to 1.3Mt by 2014.

ALBA is spending $2.5Bn to raise its capacity 30 per cent by 2015.

Meanwhile, a joint venture between the Saudi Arabian Mining Company (MAADEN) and Alcoa Inc includes the construction of a 740Kt smelter, which will be commissioned in 2013.

Saeed al-Mazrooei, EMAL’s chief executive officer, argues that while many smelters in Europe are closing, Gulf companies are expanding their operations.

Mazrooei cites rising costs, old technology and the burden of environmental regulations as the main reasons behind smelter closures in Europe. He believes that Gulf-based companies will capture market share through the use of new technology, which makes aluminium production more competitive on the global market.

While EMAL sells 50% of its current output to Asia, Mazrooei expects US sales to rise and new markets to emerge from ‘Arab Spring’ nations, such as Egypt,?Tunisia and Libya, where, in addition to Iraq, he anticipates growth in demand for billets.