Value: $4bn

Client

Saudi Railway Company

Tel: (+966) 1 250 1111

www.sar.com.sa 

Consultant

Canarail

Tel: (+1) 514 985 0930

www.canarail.com

Developing minerals deposits is central to Saudi Arabia’s efforts to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil exports. As part of this strategy, the authorities are prioritising the development of transport infrastructure in order to move the minerals efficiently to export and refining terminals.

Saudi Railway Company’s (SAR’s) North-South minerals line, which links the phosphate and bauxite mines in Al-Jalamid and Baitha with industrial plants in Ras al-Khair, Jubail and Dammam, is one of the kingdom’s cornerstone commercial rail projects.

In July 2011, SAR invited tenders for the minerals railway construction scheme, comprising 85 kilometres of line running from Ras al-Khair to Jubail and about 125km running from Jubail to Dammam. The scope of work included earthworks, procurement of all materials and equipment, track-laying, welding of rails, and construction and installation of bridges and culverts. This covers construction of future tracks for SAR.

The aim is to construct a rail network to haul bulk phosphate minerals from Al-Jalamid and bauxite from Al-Zabirah to new refineries located at Ras al-Khair.

The network will consist of two major components. About 1,390km of main track will form a core mineral network from Ras al-Khair to Al-Jalamid. Additionally, a passenger and general freight network will comprise about 995km in three segments: from Riyadh to Al-Zabirah junction; Phosphate Junction to Al-Haditha on the Jordanian border; and the Ras al-Khair to Jubail railway alignment.

These two networks have 468km in common between Al-Zabirah Junction and Phosphate Junction, where the alignment passes Hail and crosses the Nafud desert.

SAR has nearly completed a rail link between the Al-Jalamid and Al-Zabirah mining schemes and the Gulf coast. The line will run from the Al-Jalamid phosphate mines in the northwest of the kingdom via Al-Zabirah to Riyadh, where it will be connected to the existing track to the east coast.

In May 2011, a successful trial of the line and systems was carried out when a 200-tonne load left Saudi Arabian Mining Company’s (Maaden’s) northern mines to Ras al-Khair.

Key dates

2009: Design consultants appointed comprising Canada’s Canarail, Saudi Consolidated Engineering Company and France’s Systra

2011: Railway track maintenance and related equipment awarded to the US’ Harsco Corporation

2012: Project completion pushed back to 2013

2013: Construction of track between Al-Zabirah and Riyadh’s King Khalid International airport reported to be 93 per cent complete

Source: MEED