The Ma’aden Alcoa aluminum joint venture has poured the first concrete in the construction of the alumina refinery at their fully integrated aluminum complex at Ras Al Khair on the east coast of Saudi Arabia. Design capacity of the refinery is 1.8 million mt/y of smelter-grade alumina. The plant will be the first alumina refinery in the Middle East and will include a technologically advanced system to treat, recycle and conserve significant volumes of water.

The $10.8-billion Ma’aden Alcoa aluminum project includes development of a bauxite mine with initial capacity of 4 million mt/y, an alumina refinery with initial capacity of 1.8 million mt/y, an aluminum smelter with initial capacity of 740,000 mt/y, and a rolling mill, with initial capacity of 380,000 mt/y. All aspects of the project are designed for significant expansion.

Construction of the smelter and rolling mill began in October 2010. First commercial production from these plants is scheduled for 2013, followed by first commercial production of alumina from the mine and alumina refinery in 2014. Alcoa will supply alumina to the smelter in the interim period.

The bauxite mine is located at Al Ba’aitha, near Quiba in northern Saudi Arabia. Bauxite will be transported by rail to the refinery site.

In addition to being the location of the Ma’aden Alcoa alumina refinery, aluminum smelter, and rolling mill, the Ras Al Khair complex is also the site of Ma’aden Phosphate’s integrated chemical and fertilizer facilities. The phosphate complex consists of a phosphoric acid plant, a sulphuric acid plant, an ammonia plant, a diammonium phosphate (DAP) granulation plant, a co-generation plant, and a desalination plant, as well as related infrastructure. The plants process phosphate concentrate brought by rail from a phosphate mine and concentrator at Al Jalamid in northern Saudi Arabia. Design capacity is about 3 million mt/y of granular DAP, plus approximately 400,000 mt/y of excess ammonia and about 200,000 mt/y of excess phosphoric acid.