(MENAFN - Arab News) The Saudi Arabian Mining Company, Maaden and Alcoa Inc., the largest US aluminum producer, poured Sunday the first concrete for the Middle Easts first fully integrated aluminum smelter and a rolling mill to produce food-grade cans, at Ras Al-Zour in the Eastern Province.
Today we have begun laying the foundations of an entirely new industry for Saudi Arabia. This is an industry that will create value for the project partners and their shareholders, numerous different opportunities for Saudi and international businesses and thousands of new direct and indirect jobs. That we are able to do so just over 10 months after Maaden signed the joint venture agreement with Alcoa speaks volumes for the hard work, professionalism and dedication of the project teams, In marking the occasion Engineer Abdullah Busfar, vice president of Maaden Aluminum SBU and Project Management said.
The construction landmark came just ten months after the two companies signed agreements to establish the worlds lowest cost, fully integrated aluminum industry within the country.
First production from the smelter and rolling mill is scheduled for early 2013. Initially, the smelter will produce 740,000 metric tons of primary metal. The rolling mill will initially produce 380,000 metric tons of food-grade can sheet. Both are designed for significant expansion.
Ken Wisnoski, Alcoas president of Global Primary Products Growth described the event as an important step in fulfilling a commitment to a disciplined budget and project schedule.
We thank the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its continued support, the leadership of our respective companies and, most importantly, the people who are turning the vision of diversifying Saudi Arabia s economy into reality.
This project, and future expansion, will be the regions first, and the worlds lowest cost, fully integrated aluminum complex. It is poised to fulfill a significant share of the growth in global aluminum demand in years to come, Wisnoski said.
In addition to the smelter and rolling mill, the second phase of the joint venture will include a bauxite mine with an initial capacity of 4 million metric tons per year and an alumina refinery with an initial capacity of 1.8 million metric tons per year. First production for mine and refinery is scheduled for early 2014. Alcoa will provide alumina feedstock for the smelter in the interim.
Total capital investment in the joint venture is expected to be approximately SR 40.5 billion (10.8 billion). Maaden holds 74.9 percent of the joint venture; Alcoa 25.1 percent with provisions in place to enable an increase to 40 percent.
Maaden was established as a Saudi Arabian joint stock company in March 1997 to facilitate the development of Saudi Arabias non-petroleum mineral resources and to diversify the Kingdoms economy away from the petroleum and petrochemical sectors.
Maaden is engaged in the development, advancement and improvement of all aspects of the mineral industry, mineral products and by-products and related industries in Saudi Arabia. In July 2008 Maaden offered 50 percent of the companys shares for subscription in a successful SR9.25 billion IPO.
Maaden has progressed toward realizing its vision of building a world class mineral enterprise and its mission of being a profitable, publicly owned, international mining company, while maintaining the utmost concern for human resources, health and safety, environmental and social issues.
Ras Al-Zour is the location for Maadens minerals industry complex, a 77 square km site, 90 km north of Al Jubail on the Arabian Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia. In addition to housing the alumina refinery, aluminum smelter and rolling mill for the Maaden Alcoa joint venture aluminum industry, it is also the site for Maaden Phosphate Companys integrated chemical and fertilizer facility, due to begin operation in 2010.
By Md Rasooldeen