The Mozal Smelter Project

"River of Aluminum"

Constructing a 250,000-ton-per-annum primary aluminum smelter on a 1.3 million-square-meter site in Mozambique (Africa) provided the project's managers with many daunting challenges-political, physical, operational, and financial. This article discusses these challenges and the ways that award-recipient Mozal--a consortium of international stakeholders comprised of Billiton and Mitsubishi, among others--overcame these by using established project management procedures. The article examines how war-torn Mozambique--which suffers from much disease and a significant language barrier--lacked the infrastructure necessary to accommodate construction of the smelter, the support needed to ensure long-term use, and a skilled labor force capable of running a large-scale industrial project. The article also looks at Mozal's project requirements, which included a rigorous implementation plan, a secure and low-cost power source, a competent local labor force, and a final product that could meet top-level global standards for quality and safety. The article shows that the team's skillful use of project management processes enabled it to deliver the smelter six months ahead of schedule and nearly eight percent under its US$1.3 billion budget.
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