The consortium, which also includes France’s Systraand its Canadian sister company Canarail Consultants, and Saudi Consolidated Engineering Services (Khatib & Alami), was the only qualified bidder following the opening of financial proposals. Of the five shortlisted groups for the PMC contract, three are understood to have pulled out during the bidding process, while another was disqualified on technical grounds.

The contract covers the supervision of construction works on the estimated $2,800 million scheme, as well as the first year of maintenance work.

The minerals railway will transport phosphate from the Al-Jalamid deposit and bauxite from the Al-Zabirah deposit, both located hundreds of kilometres northwest of Riyadh, to an industrial complex at Ras al-Zour in the Eastern Province. PIF will finance the project and execute it in partnership with Maaden on an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis.

Maaden is also in final negotiations with PMCs for its phosphate resources and fertiliser units.