Qatalum marked the beginning of primary aluminium production in Qatar on Sunday, as the company’s first electrolysis cell started the production of liquid aluminium metal.

The project, worth $3 billion, is a joint venture between Qatar petroleum and Norwegian based company Hydro.

Jan Arve Haugan, CEO of Qatalum said that the plant is initially expected to produce 585,000 tonnes of primary aluminium every year in its first phase.

Located at Mesaieed Industrial City, the complex includes a primary aluminium plant, which consists of a smelter, a cast house and a carbon plant.

A 1350mW gas power plant is onsite to ensure the supply of continuous electricity.

Qatalum’s chairman, Abdulla Salatt, said: “This is a very important step in the beginning of continuous aluminium production in the country.”

Salatt termed the plant as environment friendly and cost effective due to the presence of one of the world’s largest Greenfield smelters in it.

He added that the energy intensive smelter currently being built would be active by mid 2010, and that by the second phase of the project, production would increase to 1.4 million tonnes per year.

Haugan said that the production of aluminium would only reach its peak when all 704 cells of the complex began working. He said that this would only be in the second half of 2010.

He added: “The construction work will continue as testing and training give way to operations. New cells will be started consecutively from now on.”

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