Emirates Global Aluminum to develop solar-powered indigenous silicon metal

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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EGA Silicon Metal
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Emirates Global Aluminum (EGA) will develop a project to manufacture silicon metal in the UAE, securing supplies of key raw material for ‘premium aluminum’ and unlocking potential new industries in the UAE in line with the goals of Operation 300bn and Make it in the Emirates.

Silicon metal is added to aluminum during the casting process, to create high-strength alloys required particularly in the automotive industry. Roughly a quarter of EGA’s production is foundry alloys, which are used to make vehicle parts.

The UAE currently has no domestic silicon metal manufacturing capacity, and EGA is by far the largest importer of this material with an annual demand of around 60 thousand tons. Some 70 percent of the world’s silicon metal manufacturing capacity is located in China, with the electricity-intensive industry largely powered by coal.

Abdulnasser bin Kalban
Abdulnasser bin Kalban

“Developing a silicon metal manufacturing facility would secure our supply of a strategic raw material. Once we have met our own demand we could expand further, creating a new growth opportunity for our company while supporting the development of new local industries and the global energy transition. We could begin construction of a silicon metal plant as soon as next year.”

Silicon metal is also an essential raw material for other industries, including silicones which are used in everything from adhesives to contact lenses, and high-purity silicon which is used to manufacture solar photovoltaics and semiconductors.

The UAE is expected to become a significant market for solar photovoltaics with its ambitious goals to expand solar power generation capacity, including meeting EGA’s demand for cleaner energy. The domestic supply of silicon metal could create the opportunity for a local solar photovoltaics manufacturing value chain to develop.

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