Construction started on Ma'aden's magnesite project comprising the magnesite mine at Zargat and the processing plant at Madinah Industrial City in July 2009. Magnesite ore is mined, crushed and screened at Zargat and the different grades produced are transported to the processing plant at Madinah Industrial City. The plant has the following separate processing lines:
- A processing line with a Multiple Hearth Furnace (MHF) to produce Caustic Calcined Magnesia (CCM)
- A processing line with a vertical shaft kiln (VSK ) to produce Dead Burned Magnesia (DBM).
- A processing line for the production of monolithic refractories which will use DBM from VSK.
The MHF Line has a design capacity of 39,000 tonnes per year of CCM and the product is primary used in the metallurgical industry and for animal feed, fertilizer and waste water treatment.
The mine and MHF line are currently in trial operation and commercial production is expected end of 2011.
Low Grade Bauxite and Kaolin
Az Zabirah kaolin and low grade bauxite mine is located in vicinity of Hail District, which is 65 Kilometers North of Al-Baitha and 80 Kilometers North from Turbah. It consists of an open pit mine, in the central zone of the Az-Zabirah bauxite deposit and a processing facility. The mine started operation in 2008 supplying low-grade bauxite to local cement companies Demand from the domestic cement industry is expected to increase as imports are replaced. Supply of kaolin to the phosphates industry for the production of phosphoric acid started in 2011.
Caustic Soda and Dichloride Ethylene Project
Ma'aden and Sahara Petrochemical Company concluded an agreement on March 2011 to produce caustic soda and dichloride ethylene through Sahara & Ma'aden Petrochemical Company, which is owned by Sahara and Ma'aden with 50% each. The project will be completed by the end of 2012.
The production capacity of the project would amount to 250,000 tonnes per annum of concentrated caustic soda and 300,000 tonnes per annum of ethylene dichloride. German technology of UHDE will be used in this project. The plant is located in Jubail Industrial City to allow ethylene to be delivered by pipeline.
Caustic soda is an essential feedstock needed for the refining of bauxite to alumina. It is produced from the electrolysis of brine, along with chlorine which is later used in the manufacture of ethylene di-chloride (EDC).