Maaden railway takes shape

05 December 2003
Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden)and Saudi Ogerhave shortlisted seven groups of international companies for the contract to prepare detailed technical designs for the estimated $1,500 million minerals railway, which will link the Al-Jalamid and Al-Zabirah mining projects to the Gulf coast. The successful bidder will also be responsible for drawing up tender documents for construction of the railway, which are expected to be issued in early 2005 (Saudi Arabia, MEED Special Report, 26:9:03, pages 59-62).

The seven shortlisted groups are: the US' Parsons International; Systraof France; the US' Parsons Brinckerhoff; Booz Allen & Hamilton, also of the US, with Gutteridge, Haskins & Daveyof Australia; Beirut-based Dar al-Handasah (Shair & Partners); Transurb Technirailof Belgium; and ObermeyerPlanen & Beraten, with Hansa Luftbild, both of Germany.

The project will involve construction of a railroad from the Al-Jalamid phosphate mines in the northwest of the kingdom via Al-Zabirah to Riyadh, where it will be connected to the existing railroad to the east coast, which will be upgraded. A new link will also be built along the coast to the industrial zone at Ras al-Zour, north of Jubail, which will house Maaden's planned $3,490 million alumina refinery and aluminium smelter, a diammonium phosphate (DAP) fertiliser complex and a captive power and desalination plant (see Power & Water).

Maaden and Saudi Oger, together with the state's Public Investment Fund (PIF), are expected to provide financing for the railway, which will be run and maintained by a foreign operator under a long-term concession. However, a final decision will only be made once the feasibility of the mining projects has been confirmed. The contract to prepare a full feasibility study for the integrated Al-Zabirah bauxite mining project, which will involve the aluminium complex in Ras al-Zour, was awarded in April to the US' Bechtel.

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