Almatis recently announced a major investment in a fully integrated tabular alumina facility at its existing Qingdao plant in the Shangdong province of China. The $18 million investment will expand existing tabular capability, supporting the installation of two shaft kilns for tabular alumina sintering and more than doubling the existing crushing and screening capacity. Under the terms of Almatis' long-term supply agreement with Alcoa, the Qingdao plant will be supplied with calcined alumina feedstock from Alcoa, Australia. The Chinese refractory and ceramic markets' demand for Almatis tabular alumina has steadily increased over the past four years, since Qingdao initiated operation in 2000. The Qingdao plant is currently sourced with tabular alumina from Almatis' primary tabular production facilities in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and Bauxite, Ark.