Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) plans to hold a meeting between the sponsors of a $10.8bn aluminium smelter project and potential lenders to the project in Riyadh on 26 April, according to sources close to the project.

The meeting will include Maaden, US-based aluminium company Alcoa, which has a 40 per cent stake in the project, and Bechtel, which worked on a feasibility study for the project. Financial advisers on the scheme, Riyad Bank and the UK’s Standard Chartered, will also explain the funding strategy for the project.

Following the meeting, the invitations to finance the deal will be sent to banks in the first week of May. Responses will be due in mid-June.

A source close to the project says the meeting will serve as an introduction of Alcoa to the Saudi market, which so far has yet to the meet the company after it only joined the project in December 2009. The original partner in the scheme, UK/Australian mining group Rio Tinto Alcan pulled out in December 2008.

The total debt being raised for the project will be in the region of $3-4bn, including direct loans from Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF).

This financing will be for the development of a smelter, with a refinery and a bauxite mine also planned. The total project development cost is expected to be around $10.8bn. The smelter will be developed in Ras al-Zour, with the bauxite mine and refinery at Zubairah, in Qassim Province in the centre of Saudi Arabia.

In December 2009, Maaden also received four bids from contractors to develop the $1bn refinery. Maaden is due to make an award on the refinery element this month.. Once complete, the complex will have a refinery with capacity of 1.8 million tonnes a year (t/y), a 740,000-t/y smelter, and a 4 million-t/y bauxite mine.