The Saudi Arabian Mining Company ‘Maaden’ has announced that several international companies have expressed interest in the SR12 billion Al-Zubairah bauxite project. The announcement comes after a working team led by Maaden Chairman Dr. Abdullah Al-Dabbagh held a series of talks with foreign companies on running large industrial complexes specializing in aluminum production. "The aim of the talks was to find a strategic partner for the bauxite project, which involves establishing a smelter and refinery for aluminum", a company statement said.
Maaden has already signed a financial consultancy agreement with Riyadh Bank and a joint Australian and New Zealand banking group to conduct a detailed feasibility study of the Al-Zubairah project. Preliminary studies indicate that the area between Qasim and Hail in the northern part of the country has bauxite deposits of over 126 million tons. The study is slated for completion in mid-2004. Maaden plans to extract 3.4 million tons of bauxite annually for the production of 620,000 tons of aluminum a year.
The Kingdom is also looking for investors to exploit its vast phosphate resources in the north, estimated by the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbuas around 110 million tons. Maaden has signed an agreement with ‘Saudi Oger’ to establish a joint company to develop phosphate mines and transport raw phosphate by rail, at an estimated cost of U.S. $800 million to $2 billion. Maaden, set up in March 1997, is wholly owned by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources. The government, however, has plans for its privatization.