Operations preparation for start-up of a new alumina refinery to supply world class alumina

Author(s): B. Rasmussen, V. Visman, M. Al Suwaidi, H. Adamson
11th AQW International Conference in Gladstone, Australia in September 2018

Abstract

Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), one of the world’s largest ‘premium aluminium’ producers, is constructing the Al Taweelah alumina refinery, the company’s first and first of its kind in the UAE. The primary customer of the alumina is EGA’s neighbouring Al Taweelah smelter. The smelter produces high quality metal, and currently receives some of the world’s best quality alumina. There is a clear requirement that the refinery will need to meet these same quality standards.

Building any greenfield alumina refinery is an ambitious project. There were further challenges for the refinery, both in terms of lack of availability of inherent operational systems and local expertise in alumina refining as the first in the country. Appreciating how this enhanced the challenges associated with successfully starting-up a greenfield operation for a complex process, and the quality expectations of their downstream customer, the refinery implemented a comprehensive Operations Readiness (OR) program.

Working in partnership with Hatch, EGA has pro-actively driven an inclusive and integrated OR program focussed on effective transition through commissioning, ramp up and sustainable operation of the plant. Leveraging off strong co-operative relationships formed between the refinery, smelter, corporate services and project organisations, teams worked together self-reporting in a unique and easy to use management system that encouraged ownership and accountability to manage change and mitigate risks before they became impactful to schedule. Acknowledging how the entire value stream and related support services contribute to the successful start-up of the refinery, not just operations and maintenance, the rigorous program ensured all aspects of the business operation would be prepared.