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EGA casts growth path for downstream.

Defying some of the challenges currently facing the global aluminium industry, the extrusion segment has emerged in recent years as a key growth area. Driven predominately by the resurgence of the construction and automotive sectors, an industry-wide focus on green initiatives has also promoted substantial growth in light-weight, fuel efficient aluminium extrusions.

As one of the world's leading producer of extrusion billets, and a major supplier to the aluminium extrusion market in the UAE, Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) is set to play a key role in fuelling this industry trend within the local market.

The business produces over 1.1 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of billets for extrusion and forging, accounting for 45 per cent of the aluminium giant's production in 2015. With a total production capacity in excess of 2.4 mtpa, EGA accounted for approximately 4.3 per cent of global production capacity in 2015, thus ranking the business among the top five aluminium producers internationally and one of the flagship industries of the UAE.

Renowned for its high quality and service standards, premium products and industry expertise, EGA's world-class product range of re-melt products, rolled products and billets includes more than 330 individual products. Value-added products, a niche focus at EGA, represented more than 76 per cent of finished product volume in 2015.


To ensure the highest product quality, EGA sources premium raw materials and employs exceptional manufacturing processes and facilities, upholding the highest possible standard at every stage of the production process. EGA's entire product portfolio undergoes a rigorous process from manufacturing to testing, providing absolute quality for end-users across a wide range of segments. Attesting to this focus on superior quality, EGA's products are used by champions of industry around the world. Indeed, EGA's billet products have been used in the construction of several famous landmarks - including Malaysia's Petronas Towers, Dubai's Burj Al Arab and Grand Hyatt Hotels.

EGA billets have been declared suitable for sustainable building practices

EGA employs the Vertical Direct Chill method known as Air Slip Casting - the latest design in billet casting technology. After degassing and filtration to remove hydrogen, inclusions and impurities, the molten aluminium is cast into billets in individual water-cooled moulds at seven casting centres. The solidified billets are then processed using six continuous and ten batch homogenisers and 100 per cent tested at 12 ultrasonic stations which include three of the best, state-of-the-art Helical systems. Finally, the billets are cut to order at 13 billet sawing stations, labelled and bundled for dispatch.

Inherently superior in quality and intrinsic purity, a large proportion of EGA's annual billet production is cast in high extrudability 6063 alloy, in addition to other specifications such as 6060, 6061, 6082, 1000 and 3000 extrusion billets. EGA billets are available in 13 different diameters - ranging from 152mm to 406mm - and can be cut to desired lengths of between 420mm and 7,500mm.

Further attesting to the quality standards to which EGA adheres, its entire smelter operations, desalination plant, power plant and engineering are certified to the ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems standard; while the casting operations at both plants are certified to the stringent ISO/TS 16949 Technical Specification (a particular requirement of ISO 9000 for automotive production and relevant service part organisations). Moreover, EGA's Metallurgical Testing Laboratories are accredited to ISO/IEC 17025 (General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories), which is one of the specifications indicated in ISO/TS 16949.


The sole manufacturer of primary aluminium products in the UAE, EGA currently supplies virtually all of the primary aluminium required by the nation's downstream industries. "Our downstream customers in the UAE have dealt with us since their inception. For the longest-standing enterprises, this equates to more than three decades," says Abdulla Kalban, managing director and CEO of EGA.

Figure 1 shows the proportional breakdown of primary aluminium products EGA supplies, by product category, based on 2015 figures. The major proportion is supplied in billet form - where it is used by aluminium extruders to manufacture construction, kitchen, industrial and automotive profiles; as well as scaffolding tubing, HVAC and automobile applications, and heat exchangers.

As shown in Figure 2, the UAE's downstream industries currently export the major proportion of their respective production across all three EGA product categories. In billet-based production, the 60 per cent export level equates to a volume of about 143,160 tpa. This equates to about 45 per cent of the UAE downstream industry's total production per year.


Figure 1: EGA's supply to UAE downstream aluminium industries (2015)

Importantly, EGA billets have been declared suitable for sustainable building practices by two internationally-acclaimed bodies: the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system and the Deutsche Gesselschaft fur Nachhaltiges Bauen (DGNB, the German Sustainable Building Council), the latter of which strongly promotes sustainable and economically efficient building.

"Given that billets account for a large proportion of our production capacity each year, the LEED and DGNB ratings of our products have been a significant development. Accreditation from these two bodies also further highlights our commitment to sustainability as a company as we continuously strive to minimise the impact of our business on the environment," says Kalban.

"The international rating of suitability for use in sustainable building practices places the products manufactured by EGA in a strong position to be specified by end-users in the building and construction industry worldwide," he adds.

LEED and DGNB sustainability ratings also represent a key differentiator in the local market, where billets account for the major proportion of annual sales. As of 2014, new laws have been enacted in the UAE, whereby the incorporation of sustainable measures is mandatory in all new construction projects. The suitability of EGA's products in this regard is therefore tangible evidence of the company's support for the UAE government's green building agenda.


Figure2: Export vs local consumption of UAE downstream aluminium industry production (2015)

EGA's billet production volume is again forecast at over 1.1 mtpa for 2016. The optimistic forecast for the extrusion segment for the coming years will not only enable the Middle East's largest aluminium provider to further strengthen its industry-leading status but will also help fuel the anticipated expansion in the UAE's downstream aluminium sector, where local infrastructure development projects and increasing demand in international markets is expected to drive a major increase in capacity from approximately 370,000 tpa to well above 650,000 tpa.

Accordingly, the proportion of EGA's production destined to the local UAE market is expected to increase from the current 11.5 per cent to about 23 per cent in the coming years.

Importantly, EGA does not own assets in the downstream sector. "Our position is to partner with and support our customers - not compete with them," says Kalban. "Our philosophy is to provide long-term stability for our downstream customers, to ensure their sustained success. We offer technical support, share best practice, develop new alloys, and offer competitive premiums. The relatively close proximity of the downstream industries, together with EGA's flexibility and short delivery time capabilities, means that EGA often acts as a stockyard for these customers. The volume guarantees effectively eliminate any supply concerns."

This collaborative model - as opposed to an integrated approach - has been extremely successful, as attested by the simultaneous growth of both the midstream and downstream sectors in the UAE over the past 35 years or so. "Our approach is fully aligned with EGA's mission to 'provide support for a broader aluminium cluster, to ensure a lasting contribution to the UAE and global economies'," adds Kalban.

"The pro-active development of aluminium clusters - such as the cluster demarcated in Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi, where our Al Taweelah Operations is the anchor tenant - will support this accelerated growth," he concludes.

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Publication:Gulf Industry
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Sep 1, 2016
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