Saudi Arabia’s Maaden and the US’ Alcoa have still not decided on who will be responsible for buying the equipment on their joint venture $1bn aluminium rolling mill project.

A source close to the project says that while the project is starting to make progress it is still not clear on who will be given the task of purchasing the plant technology.

“Everything seems to be going through the main investor at the moment,” the source says. “What is not clear is the purchase arrangement. The question is will the equipment be purchased through the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contractor or will enquiries be made by Maaden and Alcoa direct to the technology suppliers,” he adds.  

An equipment supplier, who declines to be named, says that his company will be looking to submit a bid to whoever issues the tender.

“No-one knows if they are going to separate the equipment procurement from the EPC contract yet,” the supplier says. “It is not that transparent now, but we don’t care where the enquiry comes from, we will look to make a bid to whoever asks us to.”   

The US’ Fluor was awarded a $177m engineering, procurement and management contract (EPCM) contract for the rolling mill, which is due to be completed in 2013 and have a capacity of up to 460,00- tonnes-a-year (t/y).

The company was also awarded a contract in a joint venture with Australia’s WorleyParsons for a 1.8 million-t/y alumina refinery to be built alongside the mill at Ras Al-Zour in the kingdom. Both facilities will be built around a 740,000-t/y aluminium smelter.    

The rolling mill and alumina refinery will form the basis of a $10.8bn complex being developed by Maaden and Alcoa that also includes a 4 million-t/y bauxite mine located near Quiba in north-eastern Saudi Arabia.