The Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) and the US’ Alcoa’s smelter project in Saudi Arabia is on schedule for a 2013 start-up with the first shipment of alumina already en route to the site.

About 47,000 tonnes of alumina has left Western Australia and will be used as feedstock for the commissioning of the smelter. The smelter is part of Maaden and Alcoa’s $10.8bn aluminium complex being constructed at Ras al-Khair in the kingdom’s Eastern Province.

A 380,000 tonne-a-year aluminium rolling mill is also scheduled to come on-stream in 2013 at the complex. A 1.8 million-t/y alumina refinery will be completed in Ras al-Khair in 2014 and will start operations in tandem with a 4 million-t/y bauxite mine at al-Baitha in the north of the kingdom. The bauxite will be transported to Ras al-Khair via railway.