Ma'aden's $10.8 billion joint venture with Alcoa will be the largest and most efficient vertically integrated aluminium complex in the world. It will use Saudi Arabia's bauxite resources to profitably produce aluminium for domestic and international markets as well as to facilitate the development of domestic downstream industries in the Kingdom.
The aluminium project involves the development, design, construction and subsequent operation of two integrated sites:
Al Ba'itha, near Quiba in north-eastern Saudi Arabia and around 600km north west 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 upon the estimated capacities of the project's refinery and smelter and envisages production at an annual mining rate of 4.0 million mtpy of bauxite.
The project's alumina refinery, aluminium smelter and rolling mill are under construction at Ras Al Khair, 90 km North of Jubail. Bauxite ore transported by rail to Ras Al Khair will be refined in the GCC's first alumina refinery to produce 1.8 million mtpy of alumina, which will in turn be processed in the smelter to produce 740,000 mtpy of aluminium. The rolling mill with initial hot-mill capacity of 380,000 mtpy will focus initially on the production of sheet, end and tab stock for the manufacture of cans and other products including auto, construction and foil applications. The rolling mill will be one of the world's most technically advanced and will have the capacity to re-cycle aluminium scrap.
The smelter and rolling mill will begin operations in 2013 while the alumina refinery will come on stream in 2014. Alumina will be imported to supply the smelter for the intervening period.
A key infrastructure item for the aluminium operations at Ras Al Khair is a power, steam and water facility. In October 2009 Ma'aden signed an energy conversion agreement with the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) and Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) to develop a joint power and desalination plant which will generate 2400 MW of electricity and 1.025 million cubic metres of water per day. Of that, the aluminium complex will use 1,350 MW of electricity and 25,000 cubic metres per day of water. The remaining electricity and water will be supplied to the national grid.