The expansion will entail the construction of a new 1.2 million-t/y DRI plant and a new 400,000-t/y rod mill, as well as a 500,000-t/y expansion of the existing meltshop. For the DRI unit, Qasco is close to appointing a front-end engineering and design (FEED) contractor and expects to award the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract by mid-2003. The EPC packages have already been issued for the meltshop and rolling mill works, with bids due to be returned in the first quarter of 2003. Qasco has the option of awarding the two packages separately or together.

Banks have already submitted proposals for the financial advisory mandate. Bidders are understood to include HSBCwith Qatar National Bank, Barclays Capitaland Gulf International Bank.

In the late 1990s, Qasco drew up a 10-year investment programme worth $1,750 million. However, few of the projects were implemented (MEED 3:1:97).