Jacynthe Côté Tells Delegates At ARABAL 2011 in Muscat That Middle East Well On Way To Becoming One of World’s Leading Primary Aluminium Producers

Muscat, 14 November, 2011:  The CEO of the world’s biggest aluminium company, Jacynthe Côté of Rio Tinto Alcan, has told delegates attending the ARABAL 2011 conference that the production of this flexible metal will be a key to sustainable economic growth in the Middle East.

In her keynote address to the conference, Mrs. Côté told delegates from over 30 countries that industrial diversification and job creation are areas where the aluminium industry can help make a difference. Something she said that has been demonstrated in Oman, the rest of the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.

ARABAL is the annual gathering of the aluminium smelters of the Arab World but the region’s growing strength in the industry means that global industry leaders attend to debate and discuss the challenges facing this rapidly growing industry. This year the event is hosted by Oman-based Sohar Aluminium for the first time.

“The Middle East clearly possesses an enviable platform upon which to build a world-class aluminium industry.  But going forward we must demonstrate that we also have the vision and the will to capitalise on these strengths by creating the conditions necessary to sustain growth.

“Judging by the success to date, of Sohar Aluminium and the other dynamic regional aluminium producers represented here and the determination of other stakeholders at the conference, I am confident that any challenges can be overcome and enormous long-term benefits can be realised,” said Mrs. Côté.

Earlier the conference was opened by a keynote speech from the Omani Minister of Commerce and Industry, H.E. Shaikh Saad bin Mohammad al Saadi who acknowledged the outstanding participation of the Aluminium leaders in the Arab World explaining that there is an excellent opportunity to strengthen Arab commercial and technical cooperation and further deepen knowledge of this industry.  

His Excellency said: “There are currently five aluminium smelters in the Gulf region which alone represent over US$ 30 billion in Capital and create 20,000 direct and 30,000 indirect jobs.    

“Oman’s contribution to the aluminium sector is a result of the Sultan’s foresight from which an Industrial strategy emerged aiming at diversifying the sources of national income, by focusing on essential industries that add value. It is this strategy that will improve the implementation of national resources in order to offer better job opportunities for Omani citizens.  

“Sohar Aluminium, which is located in the Sohar Industrial Estate, is one of the fundamental projects that implements this strategy and therefore has witnessed rapid development.”

|In her speech Mrs. Côté also explained that Rio Tinto Alcan is proud of its long-established presence and valued relationships in this region. Proud to be a partner to Sohar Aluminium, and of our relationships with other Middle East producers using AP smelting technology such as Alba in Bahrain and the Ma’aden-Alcoa project currently under construction in Saudi Arabia.

She added “At Rio Tinto Alcan, we are thinking globally to act locally, and leveraging our success by deploying specialised Regional Economic Development teams to help the communities and regions in which we operate.

“This model has been emulated by our partner and conference host, Sohar Aluminium, to great success. Sohar Aluminium has had a positive impact on economic diversification and job creation after only a few years of operation. The company employs over 1,000 people — more than 70% of whom are Omani citizens — and is credited with creating an additional 2,500 jobs here in the Sultanate. That’s an achievement we can all be proud of.

“Sohar Aluminium is an excellent example of an Omani-controlled enterprise harnessing Omani resources to power the establishment of a more diversified, value-added industrial base and create quality jobs for Omani citizens.”

She also discussed the proposed expansion of the state-of-the-art Sohar Aluminium smelter and explained that Rio Tinto Alcan is proud to be an equity partner and technology supplier to Sohar, which uses its benchmark AP 36 derivative – the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly reduction technology commercially available.

Rio Tinto Alcan is also exploring with Sohar Aluminium how it can increase primary aluminium production in Oman and further contribute to socio-economic development and job creation.

The theme of this year’s ARABAL conference is “Global Challenges for sustainable growth in the aluminium industry and the role of the Gulf smelters” – issues affecting regional and global manufacturers, downstream industries and suppliers – and has attracted an estimated 400 delegates from over 30 countries.

ARABAL 2011 has attracted sponsorship from leading companies who include ABB, Alstom, FATA EPC, Oman Aluminium Processing Industries LLC, Oman Aluminium Rolling Company, Rio Tinto Alcan, Five Solios Group, R & D Carbon Switzerland, Petroleium Coke Industries Company, Morten Simonsen, Rotex, SGL Group, Clauser SAS, Fusiref Wahl Refractory Solution, Steinweg, Kuwait Industry Company and Omantel.

This is in addition to the regional sponsorship that the conference has received from the Gulf and regional Arab smelters in the shape of Sohar Aluminium in Oman, ALBA from Bahrain, DUBAL and Emal from the UAE, Qatalam from Qatar, Egyptalum of Egypt and newcomer Ma’aden of Saudi Arabia.