Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) is set to award the project management consultancy (PMC) contract for its planned $6bn phosphates mining city in Saudi Arabia to the US’ Fluor and Bechtel.

In April 2012, Maaden awarded two engineering contracts to Bechtel and the US’ Jacobs Engineering. Bechtel is responsible for the general engineering plan for the city which includes basic, downstream and support industries, as well as commercial, housing and educational facilities.

Jacobs is carrying out the front-end engineering and design (feed) for a mining component, as well as eight different processing plants and a utilities and offsites package.

The PMC will be split with Bechtel assuming responsibility for the packages it is currently carrying out the engineering for and Fluor covering the packages Jacobs is conducting the feed for.

“This is a massive project and is located in a relatively remote area in the north of the kingdom,” says a minerals industry source based in Saudi Arabia. “The Bechtel portion will cover about $2bn of the overall budget, with Fluor taking responsibility of the technical side, which is worth about $4bn.”

The phosphates city, which will be constructed at Waad al-Shamal in the north of the kingdom, is being planned so Maaden can fully utilise the phosphates from its Al-Khabra mine.

The phosphate produced at Al-Khabra is low in heavy metal content and thus is ideal for use in food production, as well as fertiliser and animal feed. The measured reserves of the Al-Khabra deposit are estimated to be 236 million tonnes.

Riyadh also plans to use the mining city as a catalyst for the economic development of the area. Waad al-Shamal will become a major phosphates hub in the kingdom, and a major downstream phosphates cluster for attracting international companies is also planned for the region.