Business success is created by the combined efforts of those who work for any organization. It is therefore fitting as we mark Sohar Aluminium Company LLC’s (SA) 10th anniversary that we celebrate those who have worked so diligently to deliver success during the journey.
One decade ago and blessed with a wealth of natural resources and petrochemicals, Oman embarked on a mission to create a thriving aluminium industry which would contribute to the economic development of the country. As SA has strived successfully to help diversify the Sultanate’s growing economy, we have also streamlined the import of raw products and made huge strides in the past ten years. As the journey continues, we can look forward to the future, the next chapter of our history, with genuine optimism.
Production Excellence and Incremental Improvements
As a facility, the smelter has produced 3,706,691 metric tonnes of the finished product since it started operations. By utilizing cutting-edge technology during the production process, we have maximized productivity and plant performance, increasing the volume of aluminium we produce. This has had a growing, positive impact on employment opportunities and business development.
In addition to its smelting facility, SA has a dedicated Power Plant with a total design capacity of 1,000 MW.
The company also operates a dedicated port facility at the Port of Sohar which handles vessels with a capacity of around 75,000 metric tonnes and is custom built to receive raw materials. The company is ISO 9001:2015 certified for the Casthouse, ISO 14001:2015 and OHSAS 18001:2007 certified for EHS Management Systems. Our smelter is recognised within the sector as one of the most modern smelters in the world.
By consistently enhancing and optimising processes to produce quality aluminium in the most efficient and environmentally- conscious way, we have become benchmark smelter operators. The company continues to develop plans for metal production and power generation by utilising state-of-the-art technology and by constantly upgrading the skills of its employees.
A Leader in the Aluminium Industry with a Strong Financial Positioning
Oman’s unique geo-economic location allowed us to attract some of the largest companies in the world and as a result, the last decade created a window of opportunity for SA to cement a position as a global leader within the industry. As the company responsible for the Sultanate of Oman’s first and only greenfield aluminium smelter, SA was a landmark industrial development project which has become a key contributor to Oman’s sustainable development ambitions and long-term prosperity. Our ambition has always been to have a positive impact on those around us and to create a successful business climate which inspires confidence amongst existing and future partners. From the outset, we focused heavily on bringing prosperity and sustainable growth to the Al Batinah region; to our neighbourhoods, then to our cities and for the benefit of the entire nation.
At SA, we embody a culture of productivity effectiveness while always maintaining a quality-driven mindset. We have become a benchmark smelter through consistently enhancing and optimising our processes to ensure we are producing quality aluminium in the most efficient and environmentally-conscious way possible. The aluminium industry is part of a dynamic and ever-changing market, where new challenges are constantly arising. In order to maintain our quality operations and competitive advantage, we use a systematic approach of lean manufacturing principles and capital improvement projects to significantly improve our productivity through waste minimization efforts, higher process efficiency, standardized cycle time and reduced material costs.
Commitment to Support Downstream Job Creation
Since supplying the first hot metal delivery to our first downstream customer in August 2008, the company has established successful relationships with other third-party downstream producing subsidiaries. Our partnerships with Oman Aluminium Processing Industries LLC (OAPIL), Oman Aluminium Rolling Company LLC (OARC) and Oman Aluminium Cast LLC (OAC) have formed an essential part of our overall strategy to promote and support the creation of a robust downstream aluminium industry in Oman.
We are offering them proximity to raw materials, a significant value proposition that provides our downstream customers with a distinct energy cost advantage. This initiative is also in synergy with our intent to build beneficial relationships with local suppliers as well as customers from Oman and abroad in order to deliver sustainable In-Country Value (ICV) for Oman. At SA, we realize how important these contributions are to our domestic output which reflects on the socio-economic development of the region while creating further job opportunities.
As the volume of liquid metal sold directly to the company’s downstream partners increases each year, the organization continues to stimulate the Omani economy.
In August 2018, we partnered with our latest downstream customer, Synergies Castings LLC, the leading manufacturer of aluminium alloy wheels in India, and SA will thereby meet its goal of supplying 60% of its hot metal production to its downstream customers while the rest is exported in the form of solid ingots and sows.
Synergy Castings LLC will construct a USD 100 Million high-tech alloy wheel manufacturing plant situated in the Sohar Industrial Estate adjacent to our premises. This new facility will be a further positive simulant towards Oman’s economic growth. It will also help reduce the Sultanate’s requirement for wheel imports, and simultaneously create new forms of employment for highly-skilled talent and develop more training opportunities for Omanis.
Building and Developing Local Talents
SA’s pride and most valuable asset is undoubtedly its workforce, and we consider this as a community of staff which fully embodies our core values.
Our board of directors made an early business decision to provide professional training for our entire workforce. This was essential to maintain high-quality standards across the company, particularly since we are in a sector which is extremely safety conscious. This direction created an opportunity to recruit, train and develop an increased number of Omanis to operate, maintain, supervise and manage the business.
As we are the only aluminium smelter operator in the country, the task of hiring local employees with prior exposure to the industry was extremely difficult. To overcome this, we invested in programs which provided educational options for Omanis in Engineering, Maintenance, Plant Operation and other fields of related expertise. The company also established in 2007 a training centre which was certified as a Training Institute by the Ministry of Manpower in July 2016.
As our operations matured, we developed a dedicated and highly motivated workforce which shares our commitment to efficiency and excellence and strives to create a positive impact. We are especially proud of our role as employer of choice in Oman and the Al Batinah Governorate. Our Omanisation rate of 76% in 2019 is the company’s highest ever national employment figure distributed across all levels and functions. Together with a focus on local employment, capacity building, competitive benefits and employee engagement, SA continues to aspire and develop a united and engaged community.
Contribution to Social and Economic Development in the Country
Local economic development and the creation of In-Country Value (ICV) are central aspects of our economic considerations. The company continues to make a significant contribution to the national economy and has an important national impact on job creation and social development.
Through hiring more Omanis and an intensive focus on increasing the local supply base while supporting Aluminium downstream factories by supplying hot metal, SA has had an increasing impact on the economic development of the surrounding regions by increasing income and improving lifestyles. This has not only impacted on Sohar’s economic development, but it has also improved the national GDP of the Sultanate.
Given the vital role that local vendors and Small or Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play in creating social growth and economic stimulation, SA is committed to developing partnerships with local Omani suppliers as a means of improving our supply chain and contributing to local economic development.
Although several products, such as machinery, primary raw material including alumina, is sourced internationally, SA continues to grow its partnerships with local manufacturing companies as it focuses on identifying items and services that can be procured locally. The company’s procurement of local goods and services constitutes on average 58% of our total purchases (except raw material).
Through our continued efforts to build our local supply chain, we have developed a strong network of nationally-based suppliers who provide a variety of goods and services, from administrative items to specialised manpower. Local suppliers represent a significant opportunity to enhance the Omani metals and manufacturing sector while reducing costs and product delivery time.
Committed to Build a Safety Culture and Preserve the Integrity of the Environment
The company’s approach is to maximize shareholders and social value by responsible and sustainable operation of our business, while always maintaining a safety and quality-driven mindset.
As an organization, SA adopts a policy of reliability to meet the highest customer expectations for product quality, while maintaining environment-friendly smelting operations. The organization remains fully committed to protecting the environment, preventing pollution, and the responsible care of natural resources.
Ultimately, SA is focused on playing a leading role in contributing to Oman’s development, while simultaneously minimizing our environmental footprint. Maintaining a strong integrated Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Management System is critical to our success. In line with our customer and stakeholder expectations we continuously strive for zero harm to personnel and the environment. To meet this expectation SA is an ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 compliant company. In addition, we seek to fully integrate EHS into our core business, creating a culture that is recognised throughout the industry.
To deal with the diverse and complex environmental issues associated with our operations, our comprehensive environmental management system helps facilitate the realisation of important EHS objectives and includes environmental performance standards. The Environmental Steering Committee chaired by senior management contributes to the continual improvement of our environmental performance.
SA is equally committed to fostering a healthy working environment for all its employees. Our in-house occupational health and hygiene programme continuously strives to create the safest workplaces for our employees and contractors. Coupled with our in-house programs our employee medical surveillance initiatives are a mandatory requirement whilst maintaining and delivering quality medical facilities to all who work at SA.
SA Occupational health services include medical surveillance, health promotion and health education, occupational health visits and inspections, counselling, and biological monitoring. SA also implements a comprehensive industrial hygiene programme, and it is an important part of the company’s occupational health and well-being provisions. A workplace monitoring programme based on the company’s health risks and legal obligations is implemented.
Whilst maintaining a healthy workforce SA has incorporated the highest safety standards within each of its operations. Employees are constantly engaged to seek safer means of operating whilst constantly maintaining a culture where we care and look out for each other. The injury frequency rates and first aid treatments have significantly dropped over the years and the company is proud of our current standards and adherence to the safety systems on site. The company’s non-blame culture for reporting of incidents, accidents or unsafe conditions supports employees to actively report and seek areas of improvement. We are proud of our EHS systems and culture adopted by all employees and contractors. Together we stand strong to maintain a healthy, safe and environment-friendly workplace every day.
Long Lasting Contribution to Society and All Parties of Interest
As an organization, we remain fully committed to our mission to support sustainable development in Oman, particularly in the Al Batinah region.
SA is a company rooted in community involvement; a responsible corporate organisation which is also a great place to work. We are proud of our continued growth, and we strive to fulfil our responsibility to the community. From day one, we concentrated effort on fostering the all-round development of the country. Our focus is, and always will be, on serving Oman with national pride. This is a defining feature of all our endeavours.
SA identifies issues of concern within the community in collaboration with community leaders and its members. SA also engages regularly with the community through a special hotline, social media and direct engagement events, which identify areas of concern and address these in the best possible way. SA has taken a unique and consistent approach to directly engaging with the local community by sharing knowledge of the company’s best practices. We regularly communicate important messages about the environment, health and safety, while spreading awareness in a fun, entertaining way.
SA is dedicated to contributing towards a robust Omani economy through investment and by supporting local communities. Social commitment is a key element of the company’s strategy to develop targeted sustainable programs which seek to improve the quality of life for those we come into contact with.
This is achieved through responsible business conduct and voluntary outreach programs, which bring direct and tangible benefits to communities which reside alongside where the company operates.
Our social responsibility initiatives are concentrated on strategically sustainable ventures. We follow a community-centric approach, which has had the effect of positively establishing our credentials as a people-friendly company.
The company allocates 1.5% of annual profits towards corporate social responsibility projects. Most of this is invested in Jusoor, a non-profit social responsibility organization, jointly founded by Sohar Aluminium Company LLC, Vale Oman Pelletizing Company LLC and Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company S.A.O.C. in 2011. Jusoor contributes to and supports social and economic development initiatives in Al Batinah. The organization focuses on four key pillars: Entrepreneurship, Education for Work, Health and Environment and Culture and Sport.
Growth and Innovation
We recently unveiled our new Business Strategy which incorporates a new strategic objective called Innovation and Growth. The previous interpretation of the strategy represented a strong fort and part of the Omani heritage with the principles of strength, confidence and integrity. These are all attributes that we stand by and we will continue to cherish. However, now it is time for development and growth, and it is time for us to evolve from building our strong roots into reaching for the skies and looking towards a very bright future.
We are now at a very exciting phase where we transition from ensuring stable operations towards growth and sustainability. This is all due to the trust that our shareholders have put in us, and the trust we have in our people. Through this objective, we are planning to lead by leveraging on breakthrough innovations in aluminium smelting as well as from alternative power generation aiming for long-term sustainability.
For the past ten years, our staff have been our strength, and we have always come together as one, no matter what challenges we faced. Integrity, honesty, respect, trust, empowerment and teamwork are essential components of our DNA, and we are confident these values will continue to carry us further along our journey and create even more success.
Since we were established as a company, we celebrated several significant milestones and many record-breaking achievements in all different areas. Above all, we are resilient in the face of challenge, and as a company, we always aim to be the best.
Since its inception, the company has proved to be one of the industrial pillars in Sohar, and one of the drivers of sustainable development in the Sultanate, placing Oman on the global aluminium industry map. Ten years after its opening, the company plays an important role in the future of the aluminium industry in the Gulf region, contributing to creating investment opportunities that have boosted the industry's contribution to Oman’s GDP.
We thank all our employees for their hard work, our shareholders for their trust in us, and the government agencies and our business partners for their constant support.
We are always striving to improve, develop and grow the business to ensure stable and sustainable operations for future generations to serve our beloved Oman and its loyal people under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.