AluNews - February 2015


4-Traders - February 25th, 2015

Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C. (Alba), a leading aluminium smelter in the world, successfully completed the integration of an additional Line 5 Rectiformer (R50).

The Rectiformer is a critical piece of power equipment used in the smelting process. The addition of R50 will further enhance Alba's ability to meet future creep capacity objectives as well as provide added backup protection.

The entire project - managed by Alba Power Department -- was achieved with a remarkable 223,000 man-hours of work without a single LTI, thus strengthening Alba's reputation one of the leaders of workplace safety. The project was successful executed in 22 months without impacting metal production.

Speaking on this achievement, Alba's Director for Power, Amin Sultan said:

"Alba is committed to remain a globally competitive smelter, and continually focusses on lean management and operational efficiency. Completion of this project is a very good example of coordinated efforts of interdepartmental teams and I applaud their efforts for the emphasis placed on safety."

Pro Fin Capital Services Ltd's subsidiary to commence bauxite mining from 1st week of March

Equity Bulls - February 25th, 2015

Pro Fin Capital Services Ltd's subsidiary, Tera Natural Resources and Pellets Private Limited ("Tera") has already obtained the lease for bauxite mining in Kolhapur District, Maharashtra. Tera would begin commercial operations in the first week of March 2015 as all other necessary approvals are obtained from the authorities.

Shares of PRO FIN CAPITAL SERVICES LTD. was last trading in BSE at Rs.247 as compared to the previous close of Rs. 242.2. The total number of shares traded during the day was 31360 in over 463 trades.

The stock hit an intraday high of Rs. 290 and intraday low of 223.4. The net turnover during the day was Rs. 7733139.

Russian millionaire acquires aluminium plant in Croatia

DTT-NET.COM - February 25th, 2015

The Russian millionaire and owner of the United Pilsen S.A. in Czech Republic Igor Shamis has acquired Croatian aluminium rolled products company, TLM, in Sibenik.

US$2.4bn aluminium production facility coming to Louisiana

Automotive World Ltd - February 25th, 2015

Stringent emissions standards requiring reductions in vehicular emissions and improved fuel mileage have seen vehicle manufacturers look towards alternative materials for lightweight solutions. While the cost of carbon fibre composites has restricted the material to the low-volume segment, steel manufacturers have come back strongly with innovative lightweight solutions, taking on aluminium….

Metro Mining to release pre-feasibility study for Queensland bauxite project

Proactive Investors Australia Pty Ltd - February 17th, 2015

Metro Mining (ASX:MMI) has been granted an ASX trading halt in relation to the release of a Pre-Feasibility Study and Reserve statement for its Bauxite Hills Project in Queensland.

Yesterday, the company estimated a JORC2012 Indicated Resource of 30.3 million tonnes of direct shipping ore (48.4% total AI2O3, 15.5% SiO2) for the BH6 deposit at the project.

Total DSO resource (Indicated and Inferred) at the Bauxite Hills project is now 61.5 million tonnes at a grade of 49.9% total Al2O3, 12.2% total SiO2.

In addition, bauxite quality results confirm the DSO product is suitable for export.

The halt will last until the earlier of the announcement being made or the start of trading on Thursday, 19th February 2015.

GCC upbeat on boosting aluminium production to meet global demand

The Gulf Time - February 16th, 2015

Recent industry reports have shown that the GCC region's aluminium industry continues to remain vibrant and rapidly growing. In fact, the growing global demand for aluminium, which is estimated to reach 70 million metric tonnes per year by 2020, has prompted GCC countries into action by boosting their aluminium production by 40 per cent.

The move to meet this international demand is set to see an influx of more than USA$ 55 billion worth of investments in the region by 2020; USA$ 22 billion in the UAE, USA$ 7 billion in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and USA$ 5.7 billion in Qatar . Analysts have also pointed out that production for the region alone next year is expected to increase by five million tonnes—accounting for 17.5 per cent of the total global output as compared to the 3.7 million tonnes or 11 per cent of the total world production in 2012 .

According to the Gulf Aluminium Council (GAC), around 80 per cent of the aluminium produced in the Gulf is widely exported to different parts of the world , which strongly reflects the region's move to meet local, regional and global demand. Key factors like globalization, market dynamics, environment and energy prices have played a key role in redrawing the global aluminium industry map—positioning the region as a winner of this paradigm shift.

Alufer close to sealing deal to start Guinea bauxite production - February 13th, 2015

Guinea bauxite junior Alufer is in advanced stages of negotiating funding for construction of the mine with interested private investors, including a trading company, according to ceo Danny…

Danny Keating Guinea bauxite junior Alufer is in advanced stages of negotiating funding for construction of the mine with interested private investors, including a trading company, according to ceo Danny Keating. The company has completed its feasibility studies and is poised to start construction of the 10-million-tpy Bel Aire mine in Guinea when it has secured $120 million of funding. "Construction of the mine will take about 12 months," Keating said. "Hopefully our funding will be finalised within the next eight weeks or so, which would... All…

Insurers Warn on Malaysian Bauxite Liquefaction

The Maritime Executive LLC - February 11th 2015

Marine insurers have issued warnings about the risk of shipping bauxite in case excess moisture liquefies the cargo and makes it unstable after a ship carrying a Malaysian shipment of the ore sank last month.

The capsize and sinking of the Bulk Jupiter off Vietnam in January, with only one survivor, has raised concerns among some shipowners about a systematic risk in bauxite processing from the region's mines.

Industry sources said so far this had caused only minor disruptions to Malaysian shipments from Kuantan port and was unlikely to derail a ramp-up in exports.

"At this moment, there's no issue at all. The vessels are lining up at the ports (in Kuantan), awaiting to load bauxite," said Johnny Wong, a director at Kuantan-based bauxite miner Ideal Mineral Resources Sdn Bhd.

Since Indonesia, formerly China's top supplier, banned raw material exports a year ago, Malaysia has plugged part of the gap, with shipments last year up 2,000 percent to 3.3 million tons, a trend analysts expect to continue.

Marine insurers have issued advisories to shipowners warning of the risk of liquefaction - where a solid material turns to liquid - even though bauxite is not normally supposed to liquefy.

Marine insurer Skuld said it "has been alerted to the risk of possible liquefaction of cargoes of bauxite that may originate from Malaysia and Indonesia. Members are advised to urgently consider this issue if they are fixed or are planning to fix a vessel for such a voyage," in an advisory to members.

Heavy rains and flooding in Kuantan, on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, had been partly blamed for wet cargo.

So far the impact appears to be limited at the port, which is estimated to have the capacity to ship out about 1 million tons of bauxite a month.

At least one bauxite cargo had to be unloaded at Kuantan port due to safety concerns it was liquefying, according to industry sources.

And the port is preparing new regulations on cargo testing, which could make tests more difficult and extend the time they take from a week currently, shipping experts said.

China's aluminum smelting industry is monitoring the issue, but Wan Ling of consultancy CRU said Malaysian bauxite exports to China were still expected to be 10 million tons this year.

"We spoke to the bauxite procurement people in China. They said the impact was very limited and they will continue to import bauxite, from Malaysia and other countries," said Ling.

Norsk Hydro to invest $514 mln in pilot aluminium plant

Reuters - February 11th 2015

Norsk Hydro, one of the world's largest aluminium producers, will invest 3.9 billion Norwegian crowns ($514.5 mln) in a pilot plant in Norway, the company said on Wednesday.

The plant is for full-scale industrial testing of its so-called HAL4e technology and is expected to have an annual production capacity of 75,000 tonnes and to cost around 3.9 billion Norwegian crowns ($514.51 mln), it said in a statement on Wednesday.

The project is supported by a contribution of 1.5 billion crowns from Enova, a Norwegian public enterprise which supports new energy and climate related technology. ($1 = 7.5800 Norwegian krones) (Reporting by Stine Jacobsen, editing by Terje Solsvik)

VIETNAM PRESS-Alumina output to jump in 2015 on new plant - Thanh Nien

The Daily Mail - February 10th 2015

Vietnam's alumina output will jump this year as a processing plant will become operational later in the year while the Tan Rai complex, the country's only operational facility, will raise output by 11 percent, the Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper reported, citing the investor of the projects.

The Tan Rai complex will raise production this year to 540,000 tonnes, while the Nhan Co complex in the country's central highland province of Dak Nong will deliver its first alumina in the fourth quarter, it reported, citing state-run Vinacomin, the country's top mining firm.

Alumina is made from bauxite ore and used for processing aluminium. Most of Vietnam's alumina output is for export.

Queensland Bauxite signs agreement for Port of Mourilyan capacity

Proactive Investors - February 10th 2015

Queensland Bauxite (ASX:QBL) has signed an agreement with Far North Queensland Ports Corporation Limited for a confirmed allocation of 800,000 tonnes per annum of bauxite through the Port of Mourilyan.

The Heads of Agreement was signed with Ports North. There could be scope for additional tonnage over time.

The Port of Mourilyan is located within 16-25 kilometres by road of the South Johnstone Bauxite Project.

A scoping study and an initial Indicated JORC Mineral resource demonstrated that development of an export mining operation at South Johnstone would enjoy highly favourable profits from export of bauxite to Asian markets.

Under the HOA the parties will work together to finalise a commercial agreement for the utilisation of port infrastructure and the development of the designated Stock Pile Facility.

In addition, a Port Operations and Access Agreement Lease Agreement will be finalised for development of the Facility and prior to commencement of operations at the port.

Queensland Bauxite Executive Chairperson, Pnina Feldman said:

"Logistics and in particular port capacity are key to our commercialisation strategy, especially to markets in Asia.

This HOA is an important and necessary step in confirming our commercial path to market and gives us further confidence in our ability to execute on our strategy of exporting product to our key seaborne bauxite markets.

The Port of Mourilyan is close to our site and provides an excellent logistics solution to develop a profitable mining and export operation in 2015. A second larger operating mining and export scenario will also be evaluated."

The Holy Grail of Welding: Steel + Aluminum

Wall Street Journal - February 9th 2015

Linz, AUSTRIA—Austrian welder Alois Leitner fuses strips of steel and aluminum alloys in what could be part of a historic breakthrough.

"They taught us in engineering school this was impossible," said Mr. Leitner, who works for Linz-based Voestalpine AG , Europe's third-biggest steelmaker.

Mr. Leitner's work in a small lab on the outskirts of this industrial town near the Czech border seems simple enough—but these two basic metals are famously incompatible. Solving the riddle of how to combine them has long been considered a Holy Grail for big metals and auto companies.

Voestalpine's process is neither easy nor cheap. The company uses a special solder and torches just hot enough to melt aluminum but not steel. The process, called cold metal transfer, employs an argon gas to avoid oxidation. Finally, the steel is coated with zinc to bind the steel, solder and aluminum.

"You need to hit all the parameters in the right way to achieve the right properties," said Voestalpine spokesman Peter Felsbach. The company said its technique is two to three times as expensive as the riveting and gluing techniques now used. It hopes to shave costs by a third to make the process suitable for high-end autos.

To make it commercially feasible, the company said it would need more customers, which would help pay for the tinkering necessary to refine the process and make it less expensive.

The payoff is potentially huge.

For decades, steel and aluminum makers have competed for car parts—from hoods to engine blocks—touting their metal as stronger, cheaper and lighter, and the other as inferior. Being able to readily combine the two would increase auto makers' portfolio of parts, adding a palette that benefits from steel's strength and aluminum's lightness.

Luxury-car maker Audi AG first contacted Voestalpine to help it join "materials like steel and aluminum or fiber-reinforced plastics," according to the auto maker. "Welding aluminum and steel is a very promising technology development," it said.

"We had always said it can't be done," said Dick Evans, chairman of Constellium NV, a major producer of aluminum sheet for the auto industry that doesn't currently have a hybrid product on the market.

The interest is rising as mass-market auto makers, led by Ford Motor Co. with its 2015 F-150 pickup truck, embrace lighter but more expensive aluminum to meet new fuel standards. Honda Motor Co. uses another technique to fuse steel and aluminum, but its application so far has been limited. A handful of other top metal and auto firms have explored how to make hybrid parts.

Steelmakers are fighting back by developing lighter, harder steels that can lessen the weight difference with aluminum. They even can weld together steel pieces of different weight and thickness, to piece together a part that is only as thick as it needs to be throughout its surface.

Under Chief Executive Wolfgang Eder, Voestalpine has developed an automotive niche market with BMW AG , Daimler AG 's Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen AG , which owns Audi. "We are not competitive in commodity steel in a high-cost country like Austria," Mr. Eder said in an interview. "We need to focus on high tech."

The quest to weld the two metals is important enough for the U.S. government to be involved in research. Its scientists say success could make cars lighter and streamline car making. Zhili Feng, who researches how cars are made at the Department of Energy's laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., said a compact car can have as many as 6,000 spot welds.

"Every extra weld adds cost," he said. "If you could have a hybrid part, the welds have to be made with high quality and cost-effectively." Hybrid steel-aluminum parts "are something everybody is working on," said Mr. Feng. "Nobody has really figured out what is the best technology to weld aluminum to steel. Right now, it is a wide open field."

Combinations "aren't new, they're just expanding in importance," said Todd Summe, director of automotive technology for Novelis Inc., the largest global producer of automotive sheet aluminum.

Novelis said its researchers are testing new technologies for mixed-material solutions, such as aluminum-steel hybrids. The company has no commercial products specifically designed for hybrid aluminum-steel structures, but Mr. Summe said its products have been successfully paired with steel using adhesives and mechanical fasteners for quite some time.

On a recent day, Mr. Leitner, whose services also are used by a welding company called Fronius International GmbH, a partner in the development, applies a special solder to two car parts—one zinc-coated steel and one aluminum—and fires up his torch. Slowly running down the joint, the 1,000 degree Fahrenheit flames melted the two pieces together.

What resulted was a part so cohesive it can be stamped as if it were once piece. "We could use this for exposed, outside parts of the car," said Voestalpine's Mr. Eder.

Audi and other customers say they are interested if costs can be brought down, according to Voestalpine. It is working on doing that by, for example, trying to make the welding process faster and tinkering with the alloy of the film between the two metals.

Indonesia's First Chemical Grade Alumina (CGA) Plant Commences Commercial Operations

PT ANTAM - February 9th 2015

PT ANTAM (Persero) Tbk (ASX - ATM; IDX - ANTM; ANTAM) is pleased to announce Indonesia's first Chemical Grade Alumina (CGA) plant, located in Tayan, West Kalimantan, has commenced commercial operations. The commercial operations of the Tayan CGA plant mark ANTAM's significant milestone in product diversification as well as the company's strategic initiative to deliver higher returns to mitigate the impact from the government's ore export ban policy.

ANTAM's President Director, Tato Miraza, said, "The commercial operations of the Tayan CGA plant enlarge our portfolio of downstream products consisting of nickel, gold, silver, coal and alumina. The operations also reflect our commitment to deliver added value projects to our stakeholders. As well, the commencement of the plant's operations will ensure the creation of multiplier effects, both directly and indirectly, and benefiting the local economy of Tayan and nearby areas."

Construction of the Tayan CGA plant started on April 11, 2011 with commissioning phase commenced on October 28, 2013. Following the commencement of the commercial operations, the utilization of the plant will be gradually increased to ensure safety and operations stability. The Tayan CGA plant is operated by PT Indonesia Chemical Alumina, a jointly controlled entity between ANTAM and Showa Denko K.K. (SDK) of Japan. ANTAM owns 80% shares of PT ICA and SDK holds the remaining 20%.

The CGA products will be exported as well as sold to the Indonesian domestic market. The chemical grade alumina produced by PT ICA will be widely applied in the production of functional materials and electronic materials such as refractories, abrasives, building materials, IC packaging, and materials for LCD glass.

Press Metal sees up to 15% higher aluminium production by year-end

The Star Online - February 4th 2015

Press Metal Bhd is looking at a 10-12% increase in aluminium production by year-end as phase two of its smelting facility in Samalaju Industrial Park, Sarawak, is running at full capacity.

Group chief executive officer Datuk Paul Koon Poh Keong said the higher production was due to the expansion of its Samalaju smelter plant which was currently producing about 320,000 tonnes of aluminium.

"Higher production was boosted by Samalaju's plant which is now operating at full capacity and we are also in the middle of expanding into phase three, which is expected to be operational by the last quarter of 2015," Koon told reporters after the company's extraordinary general meeting on Wednesday.

He said a capital expenditure (capex) of RM2bil has been allocated for phase three and two-thirds of the amount has already been utilised.

"Another one-third of the capex is allocated for the final stage of phase three," Koon said.

The third phase of the expansion plan is divided into two stages, whereby the first stage will have an additional capacity of 210,000 tonnes of aluminium capacity while the second stage, when completed in two years, would add another 100,000 tonnes. - Bernama

Tajikistan to increase aluminum production

The Times Of Central Asia - January 30th 2015

Tajikistan plans to produce around 190 thousand tons of aluminum this year, compared to 121 thousand tons in 2014, Avesta news agency reported citing Tajikistan's Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Sharif Rakhimzoda.

Last year the average price of aluminum was $1,870 per ton.

According to the minister, early in 2014 the ministry forecasted aluminum production at 150 thousand tons, but last year's decline in the output was caused by lowering aluminum prices in the international market. "Tajikistan Aluminum Company (TALCO) is currently cooperating with the Norwegian company Hydro, and this cooperation will help increase TALCO's production and sales of aluminum," he said.

TALCO is the largest state-owned enterprise in Tajikistan with the designed capacity of 500,000 tons of aluminum per year. The company accounts for 45 percent of Tajikistan's GDP and 90 percent of the foreign exchange earnings. It is one of the largest taxpayers and plays a pivotal role in the national economy.

In 2014, Tajikistan exported 125 thousand tons of aluminum for a total of $234 million.

On January 14, the Tajik parliament ratified the agreement between the Tajik Government and the Export-Import Bank of China on a concessional loan for construction of a cryolite plant, an aluminum fluoride plant, and a sulphuric acid plant as part of reconstruction and modernization of TALCO.

The total cost of the project is $125.5 million, $38 million of which will be provided by TALCO and the remaining amount will be provided by China's Eximbank.

Press Metal in RM2b smelter expansion plan

The Star Online - January 29th 2015

Press Metal Bhd will invest RM2bil in the Phase 3 expansion of its aluminium smelter project to raise production capacity, said group chief executive officer Datuk Paul Koon Poh Keong.

He said the additional capital injection would bring the company's total investment in aluminium smelting facilities in Sarawak to RM5.5bil.

The Phase 3 expansion will be located next to the company's existing smelter in Bintulu's Samalaju Industrial Park within the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). Press Metal also owns an aluminium smelter in Mukah. Both smelters are currently in full operations.

"Every year, we (Press Metal) generate more than US$1bil in aluminium exports for the country," said Koon in a presentation at a SCORE forum. The forum was part of the three-day International Energy Week 2015 hosted by the Sarawak Government.

Regional Corridor Development Authority CEO Tan Sri Wilson Daya Dandot chaired the session, which featured two other panel speakers – Sarawak Planning Unit director Datuk Ismawi Ismuni and Sakura Ferro Alloys general manager Chris Rowe.

Stage one of the phase III project is expected to be operational by the last quarter of 2015 and stage two by the first quarter of 2018. Upon completion of the expansion project, Press Metal will raise its total smelting capacity to 766,000 tonnes from 440,000 tonnes per annum to become the largest smelter in South-East Asia.

The existing Samalaju smelter has an installed capacity of 320,000 tonnes per annum, while the Mukah smelter has a designed capacity of 120,000 tonnes per annum.

Last month, Press Metal signed a power purchase agreement with Syarikat Sesco Bhd (owned by Sarawak Energy Bhd) for an additional 500MW of power for a 25-year period for the proposed new smelter.

Koon said Press Metal currently produced aluminium ingots and billets, which are exported to various countries, including Mexico and North America.

According to him, aluminium is today more widely used, including in the automotive industry in the United States and in window buildings due to its energy-saving advantage.

He said as the aluminium smelting industry could generate many spin-off activities, "we are aggressively looking at getting downstream industries to be players in Sarawak".

Koon said if aluminium downstream industries currently operating in Peninsular Malaysia could build plants next to Press Metal's smelter, they would be able to buy molten aluminium instead of having to purchase aluminium ingots first and then melt them down for processing activities, thereby saving costs.

Earlier, Ismawi sought the help of Press Metal and other energy-intensive industries which are operational in Samalaju Industrial Park to attract downstream industries to set up manufacturing facilities in SCORE.

Other pioneer investors in Samalaju are Japan's Tokuyama, which owns a polycrystalline silicon plant, and OM Materials Sarawak Sdn Bhd, which is ramping up its production of ferro alloys.

"With these trigger industries (in operation), hopefully we can build the clusters and bring in the small and medium industries in downstream activities," he added.

He said with the production of polycrystalline silicons for solar cells, Sarawak could develop the whole supply chain of the solar industry.