The project’s bankable feasibility study is under way and negotiations with the Saudi Arabian government over the allocation of fuel for the smelter’s associated oil-fired power station are ongoing, according to a source close to developments.

In November 2007, the Aluminium Corporation of China (Chalco) signed an agreement with Malaysia’s MMC Corporation and the local Saudi Binladen Group to develop a 1 million tonne a year (t/y) aluminium smelter in the city. Construction of phase 1 is scheduled to begin in early 2009, and will take 30 months to complete. Work had originally been expected to start in 2008.

Phase 1 will have an annual production capacity of 335,000 tonnes of aluminium. This will be raised to 1 million tonnes a year over two further phases of construction. Alumina feedstock for the smelter will be supplied by Chalco.

The Chalco smelter is one of the first projects to be launched in JEC and one of two proposed aluminium smelters. Saudi Arabia’s Western Way for Industrial Development Company is leading the consortium investing in the second complex.