The Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) and the US’ Alcoa looks set to award Australia’s McConnell Dowell the package to construct the potlines at its $5bn smelter project at Ras al-Zour in the kingdom.

The deal will involve McConnell Dowell carrying out the mechanical installation of two pot lines with a total of 740 pots, which gives the facility a capacity of 740,000 tonnes a year (t/y). The exact value of the contract is not known.

The total length of each line will be around 1.2 kilometres making them the largest in the world and the design accommodates the potential expansion of four extra lines that could push capacity up to 2 million-t/y.

“Even though I don’t think they have signed the contracts, I think this is going to be a win for McConnell Dowell,” says a source familiar with the Maaden/Alcoa smelter project. “They have won some major potline installation contracts in the region so most people were expecting them to win this.”  

The Australian contractor was awarded similar potline deals from the Emirates Aluminium (Emal) smelter in Abu Dhabi, as well as the Qatar Aluminium (Qatarlum) smelter in Qatar.

An official from McConnell Dowell refused to confirm or deny the contract award when contacted by MEED citing confidentiality issues.  

The 740,000 t/y smelter will be the first facility constructed as part of the Maaden/Alcoa joint venture and come on stream in early 2013. 

The engineering, procurement and construction contract is being carried out by the US’ Bechtel. Samsung Engineering was recently awarded the cast house and materials handling packages at the project (MEED 10:3:11).

As well as the smelter and rolling mill, a 1.8 million t/y alumina refinery and 4million t/y/ bauxite mine at Al-Baitha will also be developed as part of the integrated complex.

Maaden holds a 74.9 per cent stake in the aluminium complex, while Alcoa owns the remaining 25.1 per cent.