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$600m GIIC expansion hits 'green' snag

Manama, April 16, 2008

Work on one of the Gulf's biggest industrial schemes underway in Bahrain has been put on hold until it complies with global environment standards, it was revealed yesterday.

The $600-million expansion of the Gulf Industrial Investment Corporation's (GIIC) plant operations in Hidd must first comply with a range of local and international standards on air quality and noise pollution, a report in Gulf Daily News, our sister  newspaper said.

Manama-based Posford Haskoning Environment Gulf was appointed to carry out an environmental impact assessment and has brought in experts from its UK-based partner company Royal Haskoning.

Managing director Halel Abdulrahman yesterday confirmed the project could not go ahead until officials obtained approval from the General Directorate of Environment and Wildlife Protection.

More than 272,000 sq m of land is needed to construct a second GIIC plant and the project will also include the expansion of a stockyard and jetty.

The development will increase the company's iron ore pelletising capacity from six million to 11 million tonnes a year and help Bahrain become the main supplier for the Gulf steel industry.

The new plant is expected to begin production in the third quarter of next year.

Abdulrahman said the study had been underway for a year and involved site assessments, consultations and secondary data collection.

It found the expansion would not adversely affect the environment, as long as GIIC follows the agreements and implements a series of measures.

These include reducing the thermal Nox (a type of nitrogen oxide) formation in both plants, the installation of an Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP) in the new plant and implementation of an energy management programme.

A commitment to promote the development of recycling materials, monitor noise levels, air emissions, septic holding tanks and mitigation measures to prevent dust becoming airborne were also recommended.

The report's findings were presented yesterday during a meeting at the General Directorate of Environment and Wildlife Protection, in Salmabad, attended by GIIC officials.

Abdulrahman said the company would also install an online monitoring system for the reporting of emissions that would be connected to the directorate.

"The assessment included a detailed air monitoring exercise, noise and ground water assessment, waste and chemical usage, material handling and dust management," she said.

"It was for the client (Kobe Steel Company) to gain environmental approval to go ahead with the project, basically to ensure that the new plant would comply with Bahrain and international standards."

Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife vice-president Professor Ismail Al Madani, who chaired the meeting, said the directorate had an environment compliance plan with every major company in Bahrain.

"We have met with the company officials several times and have identified the source of dust emissions and we have tackled each issue and proposed measures and given them the appropriate time to implement them," he said.

Prof Madani adjourned the meeting after asking the report's authors to update its air quality monitoring statistics to include Japanese standards, as the project's contractor is based in Hyogo.

GIIC officials were unavailable for comment and Vicon general manager Jurgen Franz, whose Bahrain company is consulting GIIC on the project, declined to say whether construction had been delayed.

However, he admitted the delay could be costing GIIC financially.

"When you are talking about big investments, the sooner they get the plant operating the less it is going to cost them," he said. - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Steel | GIIC |

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