Aluminium Bahrain's (Alba) $3bn (BNR7.9m) Line 6 expansion, one of the largest brownfield developments in the Middle East, could be ready for its first pouring of molten metal on 1 January, 2019. 

An "intensive commissioning effort" is gathering pace as the engineering, construction, and procurement (EPC) consortium, GE-Gama, presses ahead with work on Alba's Power Station 5 to meet the first hot metal pouring deadline.

US conglomerate General Electric (GE) and Gama Holdings make up the two-strong consortium tasked with building and commissioning a 1,792 megawatt combined cycle gas turbine power plant – a crucial part of the wider Line 6 expansion.

The progress update came as a delegation of senior business leaders from the companies visited Alba's Line 6 expansion, which will help the industrial heavyweight become the world's biggest single-site smelter once operations kick into gear.

READ: Bahrain's Alba posts H1 profit hike of 46% despite global trade war

Alba's deputy chief executive officer (CEO), Ali Al Baqali, said the project hired its last batch of new workers in June. This means more than 500 new jobs have now been created through the $3bn brownfield development to date. Training and development of new staff is under way as construction nears an end.

Baqali said he was "pleased" with the consortium's progress on Power Station 5, adding: "[The contractor] will continue their intensive commissioning effort to meet the pouring of first hot metal on 1 January, 2019."

CEO and president of GE Gas Power Systems, Chuck Nugent, who joined the high-level delegation, said the project had set a "global first" by becoming the first smelter in the world to use HA-class gas turbines. 

The high availability (HA) machines are among the largest and most efficient gas turbines in the world and deployment at Alba marks the first use of the technology in the Middle East, according to Bahrain's state-run news agency

"The H-class technology will help Alba increase its power capacity to support its smelter expansion, and we will work alongside the team providing maintenance coverage, onsite support, digital remote support, and other efficiency measures," said Nugent. "We are also committed to advancing Alba’s vision to become the world’s largest single-site smelter. We are progressing Power Station 5 to support Alba’s goal of [pouring the] first hot metal by 1 January, 2019.”

Alba is already one of the world's largest aluminium produces in the world, and its Line 6 expansion will increase its production capacity to 1.5m tonnes per year.