Qatalum surpasses key QIP and HSE targets over 2013

Qatalum marks milestones in path to become one of the world’s top smelters

​Qatalum stepped into 2013 with the goal of becoming one of the world's top ten smelters, by surpassing a number of targets set out in the Qatalum Improvement Programme (QIP). The Programme aims to improve the cash cost of aluminium production over the next five years. Overall by the end of 2013 the company surpassed its improvement target by 50%. The increase in efficiency was done without compromising safety as part of its ongoing mission towards zero harm.

According to Deon Earle, Qatalum's HSE Manager, a Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR) of 0.69 per million working hours, including directly supervised contractors, was achieved for the year 2012 amounting to a considerably better performance than the year's target of 0.85. "This indicates how serious Qatalum Management is about HSE and shows their continued commitment to safety," he said.  In comparison, the TRIR figures achieved by Qatalum is the best among GCC and Hydro smelters. Total recordable injuries at Qatalum are at 12.5% of the total recordable injury rate published by the International Aluminium Institute (IAI) for 2012.

In regard to the Qatalum Improvement Plan, Tom Petter Johansen, Chief Executive Officer of Qatalum, urged employees to build upon the 2013 results and set new industry-leading standards in operational excellence, innovation and sustainability. He said that over the coming year, Qatalum expects to meet 10 strategic objectives, which include meeting shareholder expectations on financial returns, further improving its costs, fulfilling its CSR obligations, providing opportunities for Qatari employees, and enhancing the Qatalum brand.

He stressed that the Qatalum Production System is instrumental in reaching the objectives and values which represent a solid platform for leadership at Qatalum.

The Qatalum Improvement Programme (QIP) initiates quarterly management meetings to evaluate and commend progress. The last meeting held in February 2014 included the Qatalum Annual Excellence Awards to recognise individuals and dedicated teams who made significant contributions to Qatalum's performance with outstanding commitment to the Qatalum Production System. The Qatalum Annual Excellence Awards covers four categories HSE, Cost improvement, Quality and Innovation.

Khalid Laram, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Qatalum, reiterated the company's commitment to achieving its QIP targets over the next five years by increasing productivity, growing production volumes and achieving continued reductions in cash costs. Compared to 2012, Qatalum reduced its fixed costs by 11%. However, Mr. Laram remained cautious about he challenges ahead related to additional production and the ensuing negative impact it will have on the London Metal Exchange.

Global customer service levels rose by 16% reflecting very good product quality and customer relationships in comparison with other producers. On Time Delivery (OTD) was significantly improved due to impressive efforts by the Qatalum logistics team.

Qatalum also celebrated it first year as a supplier to local industries. So far domestic consumption is marginal as the Qatari aluminium downstream industry is in its infancy. Nevertheless, Qatalum's Deputy CEO remains positive and pro-active, saying, "We would like to encourage local customers to buy our premium products regardless of quantity. Qatalum has the capability of selling liquid metal as well if required."

Beginning January 2014, Qatalum will take clean process scrap retrieved from its customer's process to reclaim a casthouse product of the same quality as a conversion service initiated by Qatalum's Marketing and Sales department. The result is to establish a long-term relationship with its customers and make Qatalum the preferred provider of casthouse value added products in the GCC.

Led by a precision culture, Qatalum's Casthouse produces more than 50% of its alloys for the automotive industry. The resulting productivity gains are world class which stand as a testament to stringent manufacturing standards and robust marketing strategies.

Qatalum's quality production process was reinforced by completion of the third periodical ISO/TS 16949 audit wherein the scope was extended to include the production of primary liquid aluminium (Potlines and Logistics) and extrusion ingots production (Casthouse). The auditors, Det Norske Veritas believe, the entire production loop within Qatalum is worthy of certification.

Mr Laram added that various management and organizational changes will take place in 2014. He emphasised that these changes will herald new opportunities, in the form of new ideas, experience, competencies, energy and speed. Amidst the low metal prices, Qatalum has chosen to boost efficiency and improve performance through the use of its employee knowledge base in order to improve its business processes and efficiency rather than resort to redundancies and cuts.

Commenting on HSE improvements over the past year, Mr Laram said: "We take great pride in being a world class smelter with our current safety performance. We encourage innovative environmental approaches within our smelter and are uncompromising towards maintaining zero harm to people within our boundaries. 'Safety is the responsibility of the individual towards others and all we do at Qatalum should go a long way towards showing Qatalum as sustainable and highly modern industrial entity."

At the beginning of 2013, Qatalum signed the Mutual Aid Agreement with the Industrial Cities Directorate. This was put into practice via successful Mutual Aid Exercises held at the Carbon Paste Plant and at the Pitch Facility Area in the Port and recently at the Rectifiers. On respective evaluations by invited independent observers, positive comments were made with progressive actions underway.

Furthermore, to improved emergency response and also ensures the optimal use of personnel, supported by world-class equipment, a state of the art and unique to Qatar, Pierce fire truck was purchased by Qatalum. DCEO Khalid Mohammed Laram added, "Here at Mesaieed, we are committed to health and safety of our workers, and we recognise the immense responsibility we have, working with potentially hazardous chemicals and procedures, in sometimes extreme conditions, in the proximity of our workforce. For this reason and following the direction from H.E. Dr Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada the Minister of Energy and Industry we take the protection of people and the environment very seriously and we constantly update our safety practices and procedures to the highest possible international standards, as well as having the best possible tools. The acquisition of this fire truck is a demonstration of that and employee wellbeing remains at the forefront of Qatalum's values in maintaining a productive workforce".

An implementation of a company-wide Business Resilience System has been implemented in order to manage risks effectively and secure sustainable operations at Qatalum.

To further alleviate physical stress on employees encountered within the aluminium industry, Qatalum conducted several health programs including a Heart Awareness campaign, in which blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar checks were conducted on 174 employees and the annual Heat Stress Awareness Campaign at the beginning of the summer. Qatalum had its first Physical Fitness Campaign, involving eight teams spanning different nationalities and departments competing in a basketball league.

A Hand Injury Awareness Campaign was also launched by Qatalum's CEO, aiming to reduce incidences among employees and contractors alike. Additionally, Qatalum conducted the Qatalum Contractor HSE Forum, held on a quarterly basis. The forum's rollout led to a highly significant reduction in contractor injuries, contributing to the low benchmarked TRIR recorded at Qatalum in 2013.

Looking forward, HSE is working towards attaining two major certifications: ISO 14001, pertaining to environmental management, and OHSAS 18001, pertaining to health and safety.

Sustainable improvements are underway at Qatalum with the mission to raise its position on the global industry cost curve. However, no change is so small that they compromises on environment, health and safety. Qatalum is deeply committed to a sustainable approach in achieving its ambitions. Therefore, Qatalum is capitalising on its excellent organisational competence and leadership practices. World class performance requires world class people.