Maaden is shaping up as an integrated aluminium producer

Maaden is shaping up as an integrated aluminium producer

Maaden smelter, foil unit advance

The company’s importance lies in its status as an aluminium products manufacturer going all the way from mining to metal with the potential to be a major global supplier

February 2014

Maaden, the Saudi Mining Company, has made headway on two aluminium fronts – signing contracts to supply Asian customers with Maaden metal and beginning operations at its rolling mill.

The latest Gulf aluminium producer has sealed key contracts to supply over 300,000 tonnes of aluminium to its Asian customers through 2014 on top of some 50,000 tonnes contracted with local and Turkey customers even as it gradually ramps up production to reach its full capacity of 740,000 tonnes at its Ras Al Khair plant by the end of the year.

Commitments have been made to buyers in Japan, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and other Southeast markets, besides Turkey and the home country.

Maaden has emerged as a global primary aluminium supplier, remarked Maaden Aluminium vice president Khalid Al Luhaidan. “Together, these supply agreements not only meet a significant portion of Asian demand, but they also represent an important milestone in our journey towards becoming a world class minerals enterprise,” he stated.

Maaden Aluminium marketing and logistics director Dhari Al Shunaifi said the sales agreements with major partners would help the company expand its geographical presence and establish a global footprint. “Maaden positions itself as a strategic primary supplier to Asian markets, mainly Japan and Korea where we will be one of the biggest suppliers starting from 2014,” he added.

The smelter is part of the $10.8 Maaden-Alcoa joint venture which, when completed in late 2014, will represent the world’s largest vertically integrated aluminum project. As majority partner in this joint venture, Maaden has a 74.9 per cent share of the output with Alcoa taking the remainder.

One of the JV’s enterprises is the Maaden Rolling Company at Ras Al Khair, which has just begun operations.

Built at an investment of $590 million under an engineering procurement and construction (EPC) contract by Samsung Engineering, it is the first of its kind in the Middle East with capability to produce aluminium sheets for food cans. Initially, the rolling mill will produce up to 380,000 tonnes of sheets per year. The company is now going through qualification procedures prior to commencing normal operations.

The Maaden aluminium complex will use Saudi Arabia’s bauxite resources to profitably produce aluminium for domestic and international markets and to facilitate the development of domestic downstream industries. The aluminium project involves the development, design, construction and subsequent operation of two integrated sites: Al Baitha, in north-eastern Saudi Arabia and around 600 km northwest of Ras Al Khair, is the site of the project’s bauxite mine and ore crushing and handling facilities which are due to begin production in 2014. The mine plan has been prepared based on the estimated capacities of the project’s refinery and smelter and envisages production at an annual rate of 4.0 million tonnes per year of bauxite ore to be transported to Ras Al Khair, 90 km north of Jubail.

Ras Al Khair is the site of the alumina refinery, the aluminium smelter, and the rolling mill. Bauxite ore will be transported from the Al Baitha mine to the Ras Al Khair alumina refinery by rail to produce 1.8 million tonnes of alumina per year to be processed at the smelter to produce about 740,000 tonnes of aluminium annually. Aluminium slabs produced at the smelter’s cast house will also be used to feed the rolling mill. The alumina refinery is projected to be completed by the end of 2014, at which time the associated bauxite mine at Al Baitha will also be operational. Before the alumina refinery becomes operational, the smelter will use imported alumina for its processes.

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