The plant, to be built at Az Zabirah, is planned to have a capacity of 1 million tonnes a year (t/y) and will take 24-30 months to build. The project will be carried out in joint venture with regional primary aluminium producers and international companies. The proposed refinery will use bauxite that Maaden plans to mine at Az Zabirah.

In mid-August, Maaden announced that it was looking to develop a major new bauxite site at Az Zabirah. Work on the project is expected to be accelerated because it will share rail infrastructure with the Al-Jalamid phosphate project in the north of the kingdom (MEED 24:8:01).

Initial surveys suggest that Az Zabirah contains hundreds of millions of tonnes of ore-grading 58 per cent alumina.

‘A consultant will also identify and confirm the extent of reserves at the bauxite mine,’ Abdallah al-Dabbagh, president and chief executive of Maaden, said on 12 November in Dubai. ‘A final report will be submitted by the third quarter of 2002.’

Elsewhere in the Gulf, Kuwait Industries Company (KIC) has also announced plans to build an alumina refinery. The estimated $1,000 million plant will have a capacity of 900,000 t/y and will be located on Bubiyan island (MEED 19:10:01).