First GulfCast Conference success concludes

​A comprehensive program of events, activities and presentations were successfully concluded as organisers and guests take home a valuable transfer of knowledge.

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The first Gulf Aluminium Casthouse Conference, ‘GulfCast’, has successfully come to an end, part of a three-day event taking place from 2nd – 4th March 2015 at Sharq Village & SPA in Doha. The conference was held under the patronage of His Excellency Dr Mohammed Bin Saleh Bin Abdullah Al-Sada, the Minister of Energy and Industry and organised by Qatalum. Attending were Tim Murray, CEO of Aluminium Bahrain (ALBA), Mr. Abdulrahman Al Shaibi, Chairman of Qatalum, Tom Petter Johansen, CEO of Qatalum, Deputy CEO of Qatalum Khalid Laram, Mr. Abdul Aziz Al Ageel, Secretary General, GOIC, and Mr. Abdulrahman Ali Al Abdulla, CEO, Muntajat. GulfCast consisted of a schedule of events comprised of morning, afternoon and evening sessions, each covering keys areas of interest to the aluminium industry.

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Spearheaded by Qatalum, the intrinsic purpose of the Conference is to introduce companies, some with over 100 years of aluminium experience to Qatar. They brought to the event expertise in environmental, technological and operational strategy that can be adopted by the aluminium industry in Qatar and the region. This technology transfer is intended to further enhance the already highly efficient smelters in the region to grow in productivity and gain a larger share of the global market.

Following registration, Day One of the program opened with a welcome speech by Mr. Abdulrahman Al Shaibi, Chairman of Qatalum. That was followed by ten presentations over the course of the day, as well as an additional speech by distinguished guest speaker Mr Tom Petter Johansen, Qatalum’s Chief Executive.

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Mr. Abdulrahman Ahmed Al Shaibi, Chairman of Board of Qatalum’s Board of Directors, spoke of the highly anticipated event program on Day One, saying: “We are delighted to have a confirmed program of events which included esteemed professionals from so many countries, representing some of the best organisations globally. They are taking part in a truly world-class event”.

The opening presentation of the event, on the subject of Safety, was given by Mr Abdulla Yaqoob Senan, Senior Manager SHE, Fir & Security, Aluminium Bahrain (ALBA) Kingdom of Bahrain. The presentation highlighted Alba’s Safety Journey and the challenges the aluminium industry faces towards the sustainability of health and safety culture. It included key points on the difficulties in the aluminium industry in meeting health and safety challenges; on thinking beyond boarders – the drive through safety principles embracing health and safety projects via leadership and ownership; and employee-driven safety stimulating a positive health and safety culture.

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The second session, on the subject of Pot Room – Casthouse, was presented by Mr Christian Stette, Qatalum’s Casthouse Process Manager, highlighting the Optimized Flow of Liquid Metal to Casthouse. That was followed by a session on the subject of Liquid Metal Quality, given by Mr Pete Forakis, Middle East Regional Director at STAS Middle East. The presentation highlighted how to achieve optimal crucible skimming efficiency and focused on the best practices and recommendations concerning skimming directly in the crucible.

The next presentation was delivered on the subject of how to Reduce Melt Loss, Recover Aluminium and Reuse the By-products, by Mr Alan Peel, Managing Director of Altek Europe Ltd in the UK. Mr Peel focussed the audience’s attention on an Optimised Approach to Total Dross Management. After that came a session on Critical Equipment – the Features of Melting and Holding Furnaces Recently Installed in the Gulf Region for Primary and Secondary Casthouses, presented by Mr Chris Emes, Managing Director of Mechatherm International Ltd in the UK. The presentation contained information regarding configuration and design features of furnaces, including refractories, combustion systems, single & multi-chamber configurations, stirring, and associated ancillary equipment.

With half the sessions completed, the next presentation, at midday, was given on the subject of Aluminium Dross Treatment – Zero Waste Solution, by Mr Frank Pollmann, CEO of Taha International Corporation in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The presentation provided details about environmental and sustainable methods concerning Aluminium dross processing and treatment at plant level.

The afternoon sessions started with a speech Ms. Kathrine Fog, Senior Vice President, Head of Corporate Strategy & Analysis Hydro ASA.

Next up was a presentation on the subject of Scrap Re-melting and Recycling, focussed on Fully Integrated Re-melt Facility for Billet Production. Delivered by Franz Niedermair, Managing Director of Hertwich Engineering GmbH in Austria, it highlighted and inspected a case study: HAI, Romania and Talex, Abu Dhabi, which examines key points relating to the most advanced casthouses worldwide.

The penultimate session, on the subject of Refractories & Lining Materials, was presented by Mr Jonathan Prebble, Manager of Aluminium Process Technology at Pyrotek Euroservice in the UK. This session explored Value Creation by the use of Pyrotek Lining Materials in Aluminium Casthouses and also included a presentation on Pyrotek’s newly developed launder heating system.

The tenth and final session of the conference’s first day, on the subject of Energy and Energy Savings Potential in Aluminium Casthouses, was presented by Dr. Oliver Moos, Managing Director at Gautschi Engineering GmbH in Switzerland. Key topics examined included processes, equipment, labour and the different factors influencing energy saving potentials in Aluminium Cast Houses.

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Day one concluded with a dinner at The Culture Village (Katara). The dinner was an appropriately relaxing ending of the day’s events that set a template for the standard of performance to be expected from GulfCast and its organiser Qatalum.

The second day, March 5th, consisted of six presentations on a variety of topics central to the Aluminium Industry, and included a speech by distinguished Guest Speaker Mr Tim Murray, CEO of Aluminium Bahrain (ALBA).

The morning session opened with a session on the subject of Casting Technology – VDC Casting. Mr Helge Jansen, Managing Director of Hycast AS in Norway, gave an informative and illuminating presentation highlighting breakthroughs in Hard Alloy Billet Casting.

The second session of the day was a Safety Managers Panel Discussion. The panel presented key safety issues with a common interest, and invited the audience to thereafter participate in discussions. The panel of experts comprised of Mr Abdulla Yaqoob Senan, Senior Manager SHE, Fir & Security, Aluminium Bahrain (ALBA), Kingdom of Bahrain; Mr Mauricio Dela Cruz, QSSHE Manager, Midal Cables Ltd., Kingdom of Bahrain; Mr Deon Earle, HSE Manager, Qatalum, State of Qatar; and Dr Oliver Moos, Managing Director, Gautschi Engineering GmbH, Switzerland.

The next session encompassed a presentation on the subject of the LME & Aluminium Market, focussed upon LME Updates and Forward Prognosis, presented by Harald Ødegaard, Senior Vice President of Norsk Hydro ASA in Norway.

That was followed by a session which asked: Aluminium Downstream, Automotive Gateway in Qatar – just a Vision or Feasible? The presentation focussed upon LME Updates and Forward Prognosis, as well as drawing upon information regarding materials science, Qatar Science and Technology Park, the open air weathering of advanced materials, laboratory corrosion testing, training and education, collaboration with universities and companies, and new projects. This was delivered by Dr. Sami Labidi, Technical Manager, Material Science Center Qatar – QSTP LLC, State of Qatar. Next up was the penultimate section, on the topic of Competence and Innovation, delivered by Professor Hans Jørgen Roven, Centre for Advanced Materials, Qatar University.

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After the distinguished guest speaker Mr Tim Murray, CEO of Aluminium Bahrain, delivered an illuminating speech, Day Two concluded with its sixth and final session, shortly after midday, entitled: Choosing the Correct Approach for Casthouse Project Implementation – The Development of an EPC Solution. This presentation, delivered by Mr Lee Allen, Key Account Manager at Fives Solios Ltd in the UK, focussed upon choosing the correct approach for project implementation – a complex process. Fives Solios Ltd had coordinated its considerable resources to develop an EPC execution strategy for Aluminium cast house projects. This presentation discussed how the EPC strategy has been developed and how it can benefit project implementation for the end user.

The fundamental factor for attendees to take home was the transfer of knowledge and economic opportunity. Technology for the aluminium business in Qatar presents opportunities not only for existing concerns but also enhances buy-in opportunities for Nationals. These opportunities stem the entire knowledge based spectrum of the aluminium business, allowing for the academic segment to develop, enhance and run future developments. Additionally, existing and start-up concerns can develop technology driven services to run alongside this rapidly developing industry.