Europe’s largest alumina refinery Eurallumina on last few stages to resume production

AL Circle

Eurallumina, one of Europe’s largest alumina refineries located in the industrial area of Portovesme, South West coast of Sardinia, Italy with access to the Mediterranean Sea and two dedicated berths has its operation frozen. However, the refinery needs to overcome two hurdles in ninety days to safeguard the € 300 million investment.

Eurallumina on last few stages to resume production

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The alumina refinery’s first hurdle, to get overcome by September, concerning the signing (expected for the first days of August) on the Sardinia Dpcm that is the provision relating to the arrival of methane on the island and in particular in Portovesme, while the second, to be overcome by November, concerning the conclusion of the authorization procedure that signals the green light towards the restructuring and modernization of the refinery. These are the concluding steps of the long and troubled path that the company and workers have been going through for years amidst protests in the streets and institutional protocols.

In 2009, the Eurallumina dispute cropped up when the Portovesme refinery shut down, which according to the experts being one of the largest in Europe due to its production capacity of 1.07 million tonnes of alumina per year. The high costs of fuel oil, necessary for the production of steam, the drastic drop in the price of alumina and the increase in bauxite, decreed the stop.

Francesco Garau, Filctem Regional Secretary, recollects: "Immediately after the 2009 shutdown, all the preparatory activities for restarting the plants started and over time national projects and protocols have alternated".

Eurallumina on last few stages to resume production

“The first, for the construction of a coal-fired cogeneration plant, is set aside to make way for a steam pipeline capable of connecting the Eurallumina plants with those of the nearby power plant. In the meantime, the administrative procedure goes on.”

"The process to obtain the authorizations lasted five years - the trade unionist still remembers - and in the end, when the last approval arrived, we collided with a fact: decarbonisation and the stop to coal plants, including the one that it should have supplied steam to the bauxite refinery.”

Garau further added: "New project, this time for the construction of a floating coastal deposit and the revamping of the old fuel oil boilers that will use methane and new authorizations. This time, however, it passes through the instrument of the Paur, which is the regional measure that has a duration of 120 days".

The investment plan, in light of the latest changes, is worth around € 300 million and it involves the construction of a new gas-fired CHP, the transformation and conversion to gas of the existing calcination furnaces and the elimination of the sludge disposal area with the realization of a dry storage project.

Presently, the refinery’s employment plan, which guarantees employment to 230 employees (130 in service and a hundred on layoffs), while it provides for the employment of 363 direct people and an induced staff made up of contractors and subcontractors of 1,500 employees. The handling of 4 million cargoes in the port area of ​​Portovesme is also expected. One of the novelties concerning the project is also the reduction of emissions by 31%, accredited to the usage of gas instead of fuel oil.

The Trade unionist said: “The new project also takes into account all the changes related to decarbonisation. Now we hope that the times are respected and because it is good to remember that in recent years, the company has spent more than € 200 million to keep the refinery close down pending restart. Sixteen a year for the first three years, then 20 million a year”

Outlook for the Indian Aluminium Industry

Since 2009, the group has spent € 231 million especially on the maintenance of the complex. The majority stakeholder, Rusal’s has invested € 52 million in Eurallumina since 2007, which was lately illustrated during a meeting with Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti, in which guarantees were requested from the Government for the implementation of the gasification plan and above all, in light of the project that involves the construction of the infrastructure for the reception, storage and regasification and delivery of gas to the refinery, guarantees that gas as a fuel for power plants is not prohibited as was the case for coal.

The deadline to permit the resumption of the production is by 2022. Garau concludes by saying: “There is a risk that if the time schedule is not respected. The entire project could skip. A possibility that we cannot in any way allow. Furthermore, the meeting at MISE must be called for the signing of the new addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding.”

 

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