Maaden Phosphate Company (MPC) has started production at its plant in the Ras al-Zour Fertiliser Complex.

The project was developed in tandem with the North-South Railway project, due for completion in March, which will transport the feedstock from the mines at the Al-Jalamid deposit.

“In Ras al-Zour we have the largest diammonium plant in the world, producing about 3 million tonnes of diammonium phosphate (DAP). This started production this month,” Abdallah Daddagh, MPC chairman, member of the board and former chief executive officer at Maaden, told delegates at the MEED Middle East Aluminium 2011 conference in Dubai on 15 March.

MPC is a joint venture of Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden), which holds 70 per cent in the project, and Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic), which has a 30 per cent stake.

Phosphate production in the al-Jalamid mines in the north of the country began five months ago, according to Daddagh. The mines will produce about 8 million tonnes of raw phosphate a year for MPC, which will be processed at a beneficiation plant to about 4.5 million tonnes of concentrated phosphate that will be transported to Ras al-Zour each year.

The feedstock will be processed into 3 million tonnes a year of DAP.

The phosphate plants is part of an integrated fertiliser complex in the Minerals Industrial City in Ras al-Zour. This also includes a sulphuric acid plant, an ammonia plant, a DAP granulation plant, a co-generation plant and desalination plant. In addition to the DAP, the complex will also produce about 400,000 tonnes a year of ammonia and 200,000 tonnes of phosphoric acid, which will be sold domestically, according to the MPC.

The feedstock is currently transported from Al-Jalamid to Ras al-Zour in trucks. To guarantee the supply, the completion of the 1,486-kilometre North-South Minerals Railway linking the two locations is crucial, said Daddagh.

“The railway is very important for the project. It is not quite ready, but we started transporting in trucks, and the railroad will start in March,” he said.