Saudi Arabia’s National industrialisation Company (Tasnee) is looking for technical and financial partners for its planned copper, lead and zinc smelter project at Yanbu on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast, a senior company official tells MEED.

Ian Hesford, mining and metallurgy business development consultant for Tasnee, says that the metals complex will produce 300,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of metals split equally between copper, lead and zinc.

“This is a challenging project and we are currently looking for partners,” Hesford says. “[The partnerships] could be of a technical or financial nature or could be for a joint venture company. The project is still in the early stages and we have not entered into any serious discussions with anyone regarding a deal.”

A banking feasibility study for the project is underway and should be completed by mid-2011, Hesford says.

“The study has to say that you have 75 per cent of the materials sourced,” Hesford says. “It is not just a case of proving you can build and operate a smelter; you have to prove you have the materials in place too.”  

Tasnee plans to fast-track construction once the study has been finalised, with a view to completing the project by mid-2013, Hesford says.

The project is seen as a move by Tasnee to diversify from its core petrochemicals businesses although the company is already an investor in Saudi Arabia’s metals industry.

“Tasnee has always been a company that has been led by investment rather than policy,” Hesford says. “The company is looking to diversify [from petrochemicals], but in a planned way.”

Tasnee is a joint stock company listed on the Saudi Arabian stock exchange. It is the second largest industrial and petrochemical company among the list of top 100 Saudi Arabian companies.