MANAMA: A top Bahrain business group has formed a joint venture with an Indian industrial house to set up a $100 million company for the manufacture of aluminium fluoride. The Pearl Industrial Chemicals Company (PIC) has been established by Bahrain’s EBH Holding and India’s Archean Group of Companies.
The new company will be chaired by Shaikh Ebrahim bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
PIC will be located at South Alba Industrial Estate and will start production in two years.
The company will create about 150 jobs, of which 100 will go to Bahrainis, said chief executive officer C George John.
The environment-friendly plant will be built with the most modern technology and will provide direct employment to about 150 technical and non-technical personnel, he told a Press conference at the Regency InterContinental Bahrain.
“Bahrainis will be trained on site and at suitable locations which will enable the local manpower to absorb the most modern technology,” he noted.
“The project will also provide indirect employment to many others.
“We are grateful to the Bahrain government, especially the Industry and Commerce Ministry, which has allocated about 100,000 sq/m of land for the project, with amenities like power, gas and water including all clearances.”
The plant, when fully operational, is expected to produce 60,000 metric tonnes of aluminium fluoride, which is a critical chemical ingredient in the aluminium smelting process, said Chennai-based Archean Group executive director C G Sethuram.
“This chemical is currently being imported by Alba and other smelters in the region like Sohar Aluminium, Oman,” he added.
“Out of 30,000 tonnes to be produced by the Bahrain plant in the first phase, 18,000 tonnes will be bought by Alba.
“The GCC countries’ total requirement for aluminium fluoride is 140,000 tonnes annually.”
Financial consultant Jassim Abdulaal, of Grant Thornton, said PIC had been on the lookout throughout the world for a right technology company suitable to the region.
“The efforts met with success by locating such an organisation from India with whom a joint venture has been finalised,” he added.
“The Archean Group has multi-national operations in the field of salt, mining, shipping, construction materials and industrial chemicals covering three continents.
“The group decided to own a majority shareholding – 76pc – in the venture through one of their group companies and will manage the establishment of the project and business operations including training of personnel.”
One of the key raw materials, sulphur, is locally available and the company has been assured of uninterrupted supply of this material from Bapco, said Mr Sethuram. Other raw materials will be imported.
Aluminium fluoride when produced in Bahrain will give much needed support to the aluminium smelting industry which is flourishing in the GCC countries, said Archean chief financial officer S M Sundaram.
“Most of world’s aluminium smelting projects are either already based in GCC countries, like Bahrain, the UAE and Oman, or new smelters are underway in countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia .
Apart from aluminium fluoride the plant will produce co-products like gypsum which will be supplied to the cement industry in GCC countries, said Mr Sethuram.
“Satellite manufacturing units like gypsum board for the construction industry can be set up in the neighbourhood using this material thereby generating ancillary employment opportunities in the future,” he said.
“PIC will help smelters like Alba to replace imports totally in the coming years.