The Council of Ministers is expected to make a final decision before the end of the year on the estimated $1,500 million minerals railway project, which is being handled by the Finance Ministry's Public Investment Fund (PIF). Once approved, sources close to the project expect other elements of the mining programme - under study by Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) - to gather momentum (MEED 29:10:04).
A detailed study on the railway project, which will link the Al-Jalamid and Al-Zabirah mining projects to the Gulf coast, is being drawn up and will be completed in the second half of 2005 by Canada's Canrail, Systraof France and Saudi Consolidated Engineering Services (Khatib & Alami). However, only the Council of Ministers' approval, to be based on the evaluation of preliminary studies, will ensure that the project moves on. Internal evaluation of a full feasibility study carried out by the US' Bechtel for Maaden andcovering the Al-Zabirah bauxite mine and smelter project will soon be completed too. The Jubail-based smelter will receive bauxite from the Al-Zabirah mine via the new railway but could also rely on bauxite imports, if necessary. Maaden in late October appointed a consortium comprising Canada's SNC Lavalinand the US' Jacobs Engineering Groupto carry out advanced engineering services on the $1,500 million Al-Jalamid phosphate project. The US/Canadian team is also working on a full feasibility study for the Al-Jalamid scheme, which is set to produce 11 million tonnes a year (t/y) of phosphate, also to be transported via the railway to a di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) plant at Jubail (MEED 2:1:04). Maaden has already selected a site for a new port to be located 90 kilometres north of Jubail at Ras al-Zour. The facility will handle the exports of aluminium and DAP and also serve as a hub for industrial imports. Maaden also plans to build a 1,500-MW power plant to fire the smelter but has still to release the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) tender.
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