CEO - Sohar Aluminium

What changes do we expect to see in the future compared to past years?

Sohar Aluminium’s vision is “Passion for Excellence - Be the BEST” and I strongly believe in this vision. Our team worked on developing detailed action plan to move forward achieving our goal. Nothing is more rewarding to me and my team than high performance in Health & Safety. For this reason, we put a lot of emphasis on the shop floor interacting with our employees jobs observations and feedback. With lot of effort investigating every significant potential incident.

Through the “State of the Plant” group sessions we have met all our employees communicating our vision and the path we need to follow to make our strategy a daily focus by everyone.

Any expansion plan, or change to product mix?

During the last two years, Sohar Aluminium initiated an upgrade of the pot lining, improving current efficiency and operating amperage. The full deployment of these new state-of-the-art pots will be achieved by the end of the year. This will lead to new production levels for SA. The SA team will also optimize and improve the specific energy consumption of the potline and then reduce our aluminium cost per tonne and our environmental footprint. Meanwhile, we will continue to explore all opportunities for growth, including asset expansion scenarios. Equally important, SA shareholders in December 2013 approved a significant investment to support an amperage creep project to reach an operating level of 400kA in the coming years and boost production of primary aluminium by approximately 28,000 tonnes planned to be completed by 2019.

Over the coming years SA will increase the percentage of liquid metal it supplies to Oman Aluminium Rolling Company (OARC) as they ramp up their operations ensuring that SA contributes further to the development of downstream industries in Oman.

How is Omanization progressing?

Local employment, training and developing skills are perhaps some of SA’s greatest contributions. Of around 1,000 direct jobs created by the smelter across its various divisions, 71 per cent are held by Omanis primarily from the Al Batinah region.

Underpinning SA’s successful Omanization policy is the Sohar Aluminium Training Centre, which oversees a comprehensive program of training, from welding and technical courses through to safety, management and leadership training. Set up within the Sohar premises and established by SA, the Training Centre has won the plaudits of the Ministry of Manpower, meets international standards and offers courses for its employees from basic to more advanced levels. SA is currently in the final stages of approval of national accreditation of its Technical programs with the Ministry of Manpower. Moreover, SA is also working towards international accreditation through partnership with local and international institutions to provide routes for career development and professional recognition.

What are the key challenges Sohar Aluminium is facing?

The current global economic situation is very challenging, especially in the aluminium industry where the LME price is at its lowest level since SA started its operation in 2009. In light of the reducing LME prices. SA has implemented LEAN management across its plant to bring about cost reduction while ensuring maximum availability of plant equipment. The initiatives will also help us to predict failures and take corrective actions before they occur.

We trust that within our team, we have the right set of skills and knowledge to achieve good results and maintain a leading position in our industry.

Community initiatives are Sohar Aluminium’s strong points, what drives this keen interest?

One of SA’s main efforts is to work jointly with small enterprises to localize spending in line with the Government vision to establish and develop local businesses and creating more jobs for Nationals. As a result Sohar Aluminium managed to source 64% of its purchases from local vendors (excluding raw materials) mostly from Al Batinah region.

Part of Sohar Aluminium’s Corporate Social Responsibility framework, SA board have committed 1.5% of the shareholders’ profit towards implementing sustainable projects for the benefit of the local community; these projects cover the education systems & establishments in the Al Batinah region; safety of the environment, social awareness programs and SMEs development within the region.

Much of this funding and support are channeled through a collaborative arrangement under the name of “Jusoor” with other industries based at Sohar Port. This non-profit initiative is the first of its kind social investment foundation aiming to build sustainable social projects for the local communities and achieving value addition for Oman through social and economic development programs.

Source: GAC Newsletter May 2014