Oman firm fires up with first shipment

Oman-based Sohar Aluminium's first export since its new smelter began operating is en route to Hong Kong.

NEWS, Projects

Oman-based Sohar Aluminium's first export since its new smelter began operating is en route to Hong Kong.

The 21-tonne shipment has been produced by a young, local workforce at the aluminium plant, which began production with its new smelter last week.

The first export marks a milestone for the company within the thriving global aluminium trade, which is the second most prevalent metal in production behind iron.

"This first export is right on schedule," said operations general manager Michael Huot. "Our smelter is destined for a smooth and successful start up over the next six months."

The first hot metal was produced on June 11, the culmination of three years of construction and planning.

Sohar Aluminium has seen steady growth over the past two years during construction of the new smelter, which occupies a greenfield site.

"We currently employ around 1000 staff," head of communications Prue Drever, told Construction Week.

"We have a predominantly local workforce. Our Omanisation at present is around 60%."

Sohar Aluminium has an agreement with Canadian-based Rio Tinto Alcan to market its product to the firm's international customers. "Sohar Aluminium metal will be exported from Sohar across the world," Huot said.

The firm expects to achieve full production levels of 350,000 tonnes a year by December.

One hundred and forty thousand tonnes is intended for export, while the remaining 210,000 tonnes will be sold to domestic companies in a bid to create a healthy domestic market.

"We have commitments for 68,000 tonnes per year from two downstream partners," said chief executive Tony Kinsman. "These are SAG and Oman Aluminium Processing Industries.

"Many people have worked very hard over the past two years to set this industry up and to welcome [domestic] companies on board is extremely satisfying."

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