Ma’aden’s headquarters in Riyadh

Ma’aden’s headquarters in Riyadh

Ma’aden driving mining growth

01 January 2015

SAUDI ARABIAN Mining Company (Ma’aden) investments have now exceeded SR85 billion ($22.6 billion) making the kingdom a major player in the phosphate and aluminium industry, according to experts, says a Reuters report

Ma’aden, they stated, was playing a key role by developing the mining sector as the third pillar of Saudi economy, beyond oil and petrochemicals. Through its investments, Ma’aden is turning the kingdom into a major player in global markets for phosphate, aluminium, gold, copper and industrial minerals.

With its partner Sabic, Ma’aden has invested SR21 billion in the Ma’aden Phosphate Company which operates in Al Jalamid in the Northern Province and the Eastern Province’s Ras Al Khair.

The mine produces 11.6 million tonnes of ore per year, and significant infrastructure investments in Al Jalamid, include a power plant, potable water and communications facilities, and transport networks that make exploration and production viable, said the industry experts.

From Al Jalamid, concentrated rock is taken by rail to Ras Al Khair for processing in its network of facilities including phosphoric acid, sulfuuric acid, ammonia, DAP granulation and desalination plants. At full capacity, MPC will produce three million tonnes of DAP (fertiliser) annually. Most of Ma’aden fertiliser production is sold to international markets, they added.

Ma’aden’s second large phosphate project is a fully integrated facility at the Wa’ad Al Shamal minerals industrial city.

With over SR27 billion investments, the new complex will include seven large world-class plants and associated facilities, making it one of the largest phosphate facilities in the world.

Total production capacity will be close to 16 million tonnes per year, including three million tonnes of finished fertiliser products, as well as 440,000 tonnes of downstream products. Complementary plants to produce ammonia and phosphate-based fertilisers will be built near the port facilities at Ras Al Khair; the twin sites will be linked by the North-South Railway.

In 2009, Ma’aden had established a joint venture with Alcoa, the world’s third-largest aluminum producer, to build the world’s most efficiently integrated aluminum project in Saudi Arabia, said the experts.

This SR40 billion project includes a bauxite mine in Baitha in the Qassim region, and a refinery, a smelter and a very advanced rolling mill all at Ras Al-Khair.

Its product, aluminum of the highest international standards will be sold to the domestic and global markets. It will also encourage the development of additional downstream industries within Saudi Arabia, they added.

Meanwhile, Barrick Gold Corporation has said it has formed a joint venture with Ma’aden to run the Jabal Sayid copper asset in the kingdom, which will jump-start output at the long-delayed mine.

Toronto-based Barrick Gold said Jabal Sayid, located some 120 km southeast of Madinah, is now expected to begin shipping low-cost concentrate in early 2016.

Ma’aden agreed in July to buy a 50 per cent stake in the project for $210 million. The company said separately it will report the impact of acquiring the stake in its fourth-quarter financial statement.

Although some analysts criticised Barrick for selling the 50 per cent interest for much less than fair value, others noted that forging a partnership with Ma’aden was a boost for Barrick as it lets the miner finally get back on track on a project that has been mired in regulatory and licensing woes.

It also fits well with the Saudi state’s efforts to create a stronger industrial base, beyond oil refining and exports.

When fully operational, the mine is expected to produce £100 million ($156 million) of copper in concentrate per year in its first full five years, with the potential to boost output to about £130 million per year.

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