Ma’aden, the Saudi Arabian mining company, and Alcoa have poured the first concrete for the Middle East’s first fully integrated aluminum smelter and food-grade can-sheet rolling mill at Ras az Zawr in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The construction landmark came in late October 2010, 10 months after the two companies signed agreements to establish the project.

First production from the smelter and rolling mill is scheduled for early 2013. Initially, the smelter will produce 740,000 mt/y of primary metal. The rolling mill will produce 380,000 mt/y of food-grade can sheet. Both are designed for significant expansion.

The smelter and rolling mill are the first phase of a two-phase project. The second phase will include a bauxite mine at Al Ba’aitha, near Quiba in northern Saudi Arabia, with an initial capacity of 4 million mt/y, and an alumina refinery at Ras az Zawr, with an initial capacity of 1.8 million mt/y. Bauxite will be transported by rail from the mine to the refinery site. First production from the mine and refinery is scheduled for early 2014. Alcoa will provide alumina feedstock for the smelter in the interim.

Total capital investment in the Ma’aden-Alcoa joint venture is expected to reach approximately $10.8 billion. Ma’aden holds 74.9% of the joint venture. Alcoa holds 25.1%, with provisions in place to enable an increase to 40%.

Ras az Zawr is a 77-km2 site on the Arabian Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia and is the location of Ma’aden’s minerals industry complex. In addition to being the location of the Ma’aden-Alcoa joint venture’s alumina refinery, aluminum smelter and rolling mill, Ras az Zawr is also the site for Ma’aden Phosphate’s integrated chemical and fertilizer facility, which is nearing completion.

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