Emirates Aluminium (Emal) has awarded South Korea\'s Samsung C&T Corp a $579.3-million (Dh2.12 billion) a contract to build a thermal plant, the UAE aluminium manufacturer confirmed to Gulf News yesterday. The contract will continue until June 2014, Samsung said in a statement. It was signed on Monday. Last month, Emal awarded more than $700 million in contracts as work begins on the expansion of Phase Two of its Al Taweelah smelter. Emal\'s sales reached 491,000 metric tonnes a year to date, up from 127,000 metric tonnes in the same period last year, Emal told Gulf News. Article continues below Business to the US alone, which buys 17 per cent of Emal\'s production, is expected to exceed $350 million this year, it said in an e-mailed response. \"We have secured deals with US companies, it\'s a big market although the growth in the automotive industry is slight but there is some opportunity. Because of the quality of the product, there is also some interest from the Far East,\" Saeed Al Mazroui, CEO and president of Emal, said in an earlier interview. Negotiations The Middle East accounts for 10 per cent of Emal\'s exports. Around 90 per cent of Emal\'s production is exported to 280 companies in more than 35 countries. Emal is currently in negotiations with European importers in an attempt to secure buyers for the volumes it will produce in 2014 when Phase Two is completed. Emal shareholders are expecting to make a decision \"within a few months\" on sources of financing for Phase Two, Al Mazroui said. Emal is a 50-50 joint venture between Dubai Aluminium (Dubal) and Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.