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Alcoa to Acquire Stake in Aluminium Bahrain Smelter
Sep 15, 2003
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The government of the Kingdom of Bahrain and Alcoa, a leading producer of primary aluminium, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which paves the way for Alcoa to acquire up to a 26 percent equity stake in Alba, a Bahrain company that owns and operates a 512,000 metric tons per year (mtpy) aluminium smelter, and covers a long-term alumina supply arrangement for the Alba smelter.

The MOU provides growth opportunities both for Alcoa and Alba and ensures the continuous supply of high quality alumina, the main raw material used in the production of aluminium.

The four-potline Alba smelter is said to be one of the world's lowest cost facilities, serving markets in the Mid-East and Asia. Alba is currently adding a fifth line which, when completed in 2005, will bring its overall capacity to 819,000 mtpy, reportedly making it the largest aluminium smelter in the world outside Eastern Europe. The MOU is designed to accelerate plans for an additional expansion, a sixth line with 307,000 mtpy of additional capacity.

Alba also owns and operates a dedicated carbon department, a marine terminal, a 1,500 MW power plant, a 450,000 tonnes per annum coke calcining plant, and a desalination plant to support the smelter. The entire plant operates to the Environmental Management System standard ISO14001 and the Casthouses are also operating to the ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management System.

The company was officially established in 1971 and its shareholders today are the Government of Bahrain (77 percent), SABIC Industrial Investments (20 percent), and Breton Investments (3 percent).

Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals (AWAC), a worldwide alliance between Alcoa Inc. and Alumina Ltd., is currently the primary supplier of alumina to Alba. AWAC has been one of Alba's major alumina suppliers since the smelter was commissioned in 1971.

Under the MOU, alumina for the expanded Alba smelter -- which will require as much as 2.2 million mtpy upon completion of the sixth line -- will continue to be sourced from AWAC refineries.

Final agreements on the equity stake in the smelter and the alumina supply arrangements are expected to be concluded by mid-2004. The agreements will become effective upon completion of the fifth pot-line in March of 2005. Alcoa and Alumina Ltd. are conducting separate discussions on AWAC's possible participation in the Alba equity transaction.

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