The Ras al-Khair aluminium project in Saudi Arabia stands out for being the first time a firm has built the full value-chain for aluminium production in one phase. Plans for the complex were announced in 2001. A deal was signed with US’ Alcoa in December 2009, after Alcan, also of the US, withdrew from the scheme in 2008.

The US’ Bechtel was awarded the engineering, procurement, construction and management contract for the $5bn aluminium smelter. It has two potlines and a capacity of 760,000 tonnes a year (t/y). Australia’s McConnell Dowell built the potlines; each is 1.2 kilometres in length, the longest in the world. South Korea’s Samsung Engineering built the cast house.

The complex includes a 1.8-million-t/y alumina refinery and a 380,000-t/y rolling mill. A 4-million-t/y bauxite mine was developed in Al-Baitha, northern Saudi Arabia, to feed the refinery. The bauxite is transported to Ras al-Khair on the minerals railway.

The $1.9bn alumina refinery employs Hatch technology and was developed by South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering & Construction. Work was finished in 2014. The $590m rolling mill was developed by Samsung Engineering and began operations in January 2015.