Alba targets KSA, Bahrain shipping back to normal

CEO of aluminium giant talks expansion plans and Saudi Arabia

Alba Alba was the region's first aluminium smelter
Alba Alba was the region's first aluminium smelter

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Laurent Schmitt, the CEO at Alba (Aluminium Bahrain), has said that the world’s fourth largest smelter has been operating at full capacity, despite disruption to its workforce and freight facilities, during the recent unrest in the country.

In an interview with The National newspaper, Schmitt said that sales volumes in Q1 increased to 217,000 tonnes, up from 201,000 tonnes in comparison to 2010, with output rising to 217,000, an increase of 7,000 tonnes in 2010.

He also revealed that 300 workers went on strike in support of Bahrain’s largest trade union, General Federation.

“There has been no logistical disruption in the supply of raw material or in the production of aluminium,” he said. “We made adjustments because we did not have 100% attendance. Only one contingency measure was taken up by Alba, and it was in the adjustment of the workforce shifts. There were some difficulties for a limited time in shipping finished goods [but this was] due to restrictions in freight facilities. Those issues have now been resolved [and] shipping has been back to normal since March 20.”

Looking ahead he told the newspaper that the company will be focusing on the Saudi Arabia market as Alba benefits from indirect demand for aluminium-based products. However, he suggested that the company is looking to reduce its overall exposure to the Middle East and added that Alba will look to strengthen its position in the Asia-Pacific and European markets.

“Construction in Saudi Arabia will boost sales across all our main 'value-added' products,” he said. “The kingdom's spending plan is going to boost the amount of building work and we expect indirect demand from this. We are also planning to increase our presence in Asia-Pacific and Europe where we export 18 per cent and 14 per cent of our products. We have limited capacities and you have to optimise target regions but increasing output to one means you have to reduce output to the other.”

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