Canada’s SNC Lavalin and its US technology partner, MECS, have emerged as favourites for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC)contract for the sulphur, and power and utilities package at Saudi Arabian Mining Company’s (Maaden) proposed $7bn phosphates mining city.

MEED reported in August that bids for the package had been submitted and were under evaluation. Only two consortiums were left in the running, with South Korea’s GS Engineering & Construction and the Finland’s Outotec being the other interested party.  

“Nothing has been signed yet, but it is looking like SNC will be successful on this package,” says a mining industry source familiar with the project. “An award is now expected by the end of October.”

The packages for the scheme have been staggered across the summer months in order for Maaden to carry out evaluations and make awards. South Korea’s Daelim Industrial was awarded the ammonia package for the scheme in July in a deal worth $823m.

The mining city is being built at Waad al-Shamal in the north of the kingdom, so Maaden can fully utilise the phosphate rock from its Al-Khabra mine. The scope of works for the city will include a mining component, as well as eight different processing plants and a utilities and offsites package. The phosphates produced at Al-Khabra is low in heavy metal content and is ideal for use in food production, as well as fertiliser and animal feed. The measured reserves of the Al-Khabra deposit are estimated to be 236 million tonnes.

In March, Maaden announced it was joining forces with the US’ Mosaic and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) to build the phosphates city. Maaden will retain a 60 per cent stake, with Mosaic and Sabic taking 25 per cent and 15 per cent stakes respectively.