The Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden) plans to launch the financing for its new $7.5bn phosphate project in the north of Saudi Arabia in April, Ma’aden finance director Khalid al-Nowais told the MEED Middle East Project Finance conference on 29 January.

It calls for the construction of a new mine at Al-Khabra and downstream facilities in the Northern Promise Industrial City in the Waad al-Shamal area.

The project will double Ma’aden’s phosphate production capacity.

Al-Rowais said that Ma’aden plans to launch the finance to commercial banks in July 2013 and to make the first drawdown in December 2013.

He said the scale of the borrowing had not yet been fixed. The arrangements will be similar to the Ma’aden’s first phosphate facility, though a wide range of options including sukuk were being considered.

Banks say that Ma’aden might be able to borrow up to 60 per cent of the total value of the project, which suggests the loan will amount to $4.5bn.

Al-Rowais said the project is advancing rapidly. “We have the land allocated already,” he said. “We have the gas allocated. The railway extension has been approved. The Northern Promise Industrial City masterplan contract has been signed with Bechtel.”

Al-Rowais said contracts for the front-end engineering and design (FEED) for the mine and the process plants have been signed.