Hatch to prepare Al-Zabirah feasibility

22 February 2002

Australia's Hatch Kaiser Engineers Light Metalsis to prepare a feasibility study on the development of bauxite reserves at Al-Zabirah in the north of the kingdom. The study will examine the extraction, transport, processing and marketing of the bauxite as well as kaolin, which is also found at the site (MEED 9:11:01).

Early indications suggest that Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden)is no longer planning a smelter for the bauxite, but is focusing instead on a refinery. The bauxite could then be sold to existing regional smelters that now use imports from Australia. Maaden surveys indicate that Al-Zabirah contains extractable bauxite reserves of 100 million tonnes, grading 58 per cent alumina.

Hatch will also examine the potential of kaolin extraction from Al-Zabirah. Initial studies are understood to have shown commercial quantities of the mineral, with brightness of about 80 per cent. If that figure can be increased through refining, kaolin could become the more valuable product of the mine. Kaolin is used to make high quality paper and ceramic goods.

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