Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) and the US’ Alcoa have awarded the contract to build a $2bn alumina refinery in Saudi Arabia to a joint venture comprising of the US’s Fluor Corp and Australia’s WorleyParsons.  

The award for the 1.8 million tonnes-a-year (t/y) facility, which will be built next to a $7bn smelter at Ras al-Zour in the kingdom, was awarded after a close run bidding process between the winners and the US’ Bechtel.      

“They [Maaden and Alcoa] took their time to make the decision,” a source close to the project says.  “Bechtel had won the smelter contract already so a lot of people thought they were the favourites.”  

Maaden aluminium projects
Project Capacity Budget ($ bn)
Smelter 740,000 t/y 7
Alumina refinery 1.8 million t/y 2
Rolling mill 250,000-460,00 1
Bauxite mine 2 million t/y 0.2
Source: MEED

The joint venture partners will look after the supervision, engineering and procurement for the alumina refinery and the source says that he does not envisage any trouble meeting the agreed completion date.   

“The completion date is expected to be December 2014,” he says. “That gives them more than three-and-a-half years to complete the project, so I don’t think there will be any problems.”

The source also adds that he expects engineering to start shortly and that construction packages will be put out to tender as soon as possible.

The refinery is part of a $10.8bn aluminium complex being developed by Maaden and Alcoa. As well as the refinery and smelter, a rolling mill with a capacity of up to 460,000-t/y and a 4 million-t/y bauxite mine will be constructed.

The alumina refinery was initially awarded to Fluor before the joint venture partners behind the project decided to retender in 2009.

Fluor was also awarded the contract to oversee the construction of the rolling mill and Switzerland’s ABB was awarded the contract to install power facilities at the site.  

Maaden holds a 74.9 per cent stake in the project, while Alcoa owns the remaining 25.1 per cent.