Doha: Qatar Aluminium Company, or Qatalum, a joint venture smelter between Norsk Hydro and state-owned Qatar Petroleum, will start aluminium sales to Europe and North America in three months, its deputy chief executive officer Hassan Al Rashid said.

Qatalum currently ships aluminium to Asia and the Middle East, Al Rashid said in Doha.

The smelter, with an annual capacity of 585,000 tonnes, produces about 300 tonnes of aluminium a day and will reach full output in the fourth quarter, chief executive officer Jan Arve Haugan said.


The plant started operation late last year.

Qatar, holder of the world's third-largest natural gas reserves, is investing in petrochemicals and industries to diversify away from exports of liquefied gas and oil, which account for more than 50 per cent of gross domestic product.

Aluminium demand will grow 12 per cent a year for the next 10 years in China, and 5 per cent annually over the same period in the Arabian Gulf, Al Rashid said.