RIYADH: Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (Maaden) and Alcoa announced yesterday the commencement of work to extend the product mix of their aluminum complex currently under construction at Ras Al-Khair in Saudi Arabia. This latest milestone will enable the two companies to include capability for producing about 100,000 metric tons of a wide range of products suitable for further downstream manufacturing in the complex's product lines.
They include automotive heat-treated and non-heat-treated sheet, building and construction sheet and foil stock sheet. "Depending on demand, the line will start production at the end of 2014...this step will further place Saudi Arabia among the world's foremost aluminum producers by combining the highest standards of quality with the exceptional cost competitiveness of this world class project," said Khalid Mudaifer, Maaden's president and CEO, on this occasion.
A contract for engineering, procurement, and construction management has been awarded to Fluor, he added. An award has also been released to SMS Siemag for supply of the mill equipment and heat treatment line equipment. The contracts were signed on Monday at a ceremony in Jubail. The signing ceremony was attended by Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi and Chairman of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu Prince Saud Al-Thunayan.
This prestigious contract has been announced just a few days after the state-controlled Maaden announced ambitious plans to invest $5.6 billion in a phosphate project as part of a new industrial city in the country's north. Saudi Arabia's cabinet approved in its weekly cabinet recently the establishment of a new industrial city in the country's north Waad Al-Shimal City for Mining Industries in which the new project in Umm Wual would be located.
Referring to the Maaden and Alcoa developing new capabilities of Ras Al-Khair complex. Mudaifer said: "These new capabilities will help establish downstream industries in Saudi Arabia using aluminum that has been mined, refined, smelted and rolled in the Kingdom". It is also fully compatible with the national strategy of developing national resources to create sustainable wealth and employment for Saudis, as well as enabling the replacement of a wide range of imports with cost effective high quality domestic products, and encouraging the expansion of the national industrial base, he added.
"Many future generations of our citizens will be able to trace their long and successful career paths in business and industry to the decisions we are making here today," said the Maaden official.
Abdullah Busfar, vice president of Maaden's Aluminium Strategic Business Unit, said that the additional products reflected the commitment of the two companies to the realization of the first fully integrated aluminum industry in the Middle East. He said that "the government of Saudi Arabia has set the vision and established the infrastructure to enable the development of the world's largest, lowest cost, fully integrated aluminium industrial complex."
The Maaden Alcoa joint venture is systematically establishing both the foundation for this industry, and the capability to support local downstream sectors as they develop, he added. "Potentially, there are thousands of jobs and career opportunities awaiting in those downstream sectors and we have the ability within this complex to quickly respond with advanced expertise, proven best practices, and high quality products to support them as they emerge" Busfar said.
Referring to this new development, Ken Wisnoski, Alcoa vice president, said that the additional products further the joint venture's lead in the establishment of a world class aluminum manufacturing facility in the Kingdom.
"Throughout this complex, we are bringing in the best technologies in their class and developing the local skills and operational routines to extract the most efficient, high quality production from them," Wisnoski added. This was already the first and only facility in the Middle East capable of producing food grade can sheet. "Extending its capabilities significantly increases that advantage", he added.
The complex's smelter and rolling mill are scheduled to begin production in 2013. The mine and refinery will follow in 2014. In its initial phases, the joint venture will develop a fully integrated industrial complex which will become the world's preeminent and lowest-cost supplier of primary aluminum, alumina and aluminum products, with access to the growing markets of the Middle East and beyond. The complex comprises a bauxite mine with an initial capacity of 4,000,000 metric tons per year, an alumina refinery with an initial capacity of 1,800,000 metric tons per year, an aluminum smelter with an initial capacity of 740,000 metric tons per year and a rolling mill.
First commercial production from smelter and mill is scheduled for 2013, followed by first commercial production of alumina from the mine and refinery complex, scheduled for 2014. Alcoa will supply alumina to the smelter in the interim period. Alcoa is the world's leading producer of primary and fabricated aluminum, as well as the world's largest miner of bauxite and refiner of alumina. In addition to inventing the modern-day aluminum industry, Alcoa innovation has been behind major milestones in the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial transportation, consumer electronics and industrial markets over the past 120 years.
Among the solutions Alcoa markets are flat-rolled products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, as well as Alcoa wheels, fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building systems in addition to its expertise in other light metals such as titanium and nickel-based super alloys. Sustainability is an integral part of Alcoa's operating practices and the product design and engineering it provides to customers. Alcoa has been a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for 10 consecutive years and approximately 75 percent of all of the aluminum ever produced since 1888 is still in active use today. Alcoa employs approximately 61,000 people in 31 countries across the world.
Reproduced with permission from Arab News