State-owned smelter Dubai Aluminium Co (Dubal) saw profits rise 16 percent on the year in 2008 despite the challenges posed by the global economic slowdown, the company said in a statement.

The company's 2008 aluminium output rose by 0.4 percent to 945,000 tonnes, below the 1 million tonne target the company set itself for 2008.

Profits reached 2.207 billion dirhams ($600.9 million) in 2008, compared to 1.906 billion dirhams a year earlier, Dubal said.

The value of sales rose to 9.115 billion dirhams in 2008 from 8.007 billion dirhams the year earlier, it added.

Aluminium producers worldwide have taken about 15 percent of global capacity offline as global demand has slumped with the slowing economy. Dubal declined to give details on what had driven its profit increase against the weak industry background.

Dubal said last month it had no plans to cut production and would keep output steady in 2009 at around 950,000 tonnes.

Dubal aims to bring the first phase of what will be the world's largest single aluminium smelter online in December. Capacity of 700,000 tonnes per year at the new Emirates Aluminium (Emal) plant would come on line then.

The plant will eventually have the capacity to produce 1.4 million tonnes per year and would come fully online between 2013-2014.

Emal is a 50-50 joint venture with Dubal and Mubadala Development Company, an investment vehicle owned by the government of the emirate of Abu Dhabi. (Reporting by Amena Bakr; Editing by Simon Webb and Keiron Henderson)

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