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76 www. bus- ex. com July 09 John O'Hanlon speaks to Dutco McConnell Dowell operations manager Jim Connor about its services to the emerging Middle East aluminium smelting industry theEmirates wingsin Spreading

Dutco McConnell Dowell T he partnership that is Dutco McConnell Dowell ( DMD) is an equal joint venture between Dutco, one of the oldest businesses in the United Arab Emirates, and McConnell Dowell Corporation of Australia. Dutco is a highly diverse group with interests in leisure, manufacturing, construction and, naturally enough, the oil and gas industries. McConnell Dowell employs approximately 5,000 people and, with headquarters in Melbourne, is a world- class engineering, construction and services company operating throughout Australia, Asia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and the Middle East. Collaboration between these two groups started in 1978. Since then, DMD has established a strong reputation as a mechanical and pipeline contractor operating in the Arabian Peninsula and the former CIS states. The company has extensive mechanical and fabrication facilities at Jebel Ali and a large plant holding that enables it to undertake significant major projects. Now it has started to re- engineer its processes, says operations manager Jim Connor. " Our aim is to reduce overheads and focus on our core business." This means making the most of its outstanding fabrication workshops by taking on civil and marine work as well as plant installation in these resource- rich economies. While much of the work it has carried out in the past has been related directly to oil and gas, DMD is now heavily involved in an opportunity many won't have seen coming. As aluminium smelters in North America and Europe close down capacity, hit by metal prices that are less than half what they were a year ago, Middle East producers are actually building new plants to leverage their cheap energy. Dubai's Dubal is the oldest, marking 30 years of aluminium production this year. From a relatively small smelter operation utilising three potlines which produced 136,000 tonnes of aluminium per annum in 1979, Dubal has expanded its operations to encompass nine potlines with the capacity to produce more than 960,000 tonnes of primary aluminium each year for clients in more than 48 different countries. Volumes are expected to approximate one million tonnes by 2011. DMD has worked on potline expansion, upgrades and electrical and mechanical fabrication at Dubal's 1,180- acre site since the late 1990s. But the current flagship projects for the company are at greenfield developments in Qatar and Abu Dhabi that are expected to bring 1.5 million tonnes in new smelter capacity online over the next two years. The first of these is Qatalum, a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum and Norsk Hydro, which is building a 600,000- tonne smelter north- east of Mesaieed Industrial City, approximately 40 kilometres south of the capital, Doha; it will start production before the end of 2009. The second, at Taweelah in the July 09 www. bus- ex. com 77