Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is scheduled to open a US$35 billion minerals project in the kingdom’s Eastern Province on Tuesday. The project, in the city of Ras Al-Khair, includes an aluminium smelter, a port for the export of primary aluminium, and a facility for aluminium recycling.
The project is part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030, which is a plan to diversify its economy and make it less reliant on the ever more volatile global petroleum trade.
Ras Al-Khair has been under development for a decade. The industrial “city” contains an alumina refinery, an aluminium smelter, and an aluminum rolling mill, all of which are to be operated by Madden Aluminium, a US$10.8 billion joint venture between Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (Maaden) and United States aluminium giant Alcoa. The city also has supporting infrastructure, including an 870-mile railway to the country’s mines, one of the largest desalinization plants on Earth, a power plant, and a village in which the plants’ workers may reside.
The above-mentioned port is an US$800 million facility built by Saudi Ports Authority and is capable of exporting petrochemical, phosphate, and aluminium products.
“Ras Al Khair is the anchor of the Saudi mining sector and as such it will play a significant role in the economic diversification of the Saudi economy,” explained Maaden CEO Khalid Al Mudaifer.
He went on to say that the entire operation has provided 12,000 direct jobs and tens of thousands more indirect jobs to Saudi nationals. “Saudi Vision 2030 seeks to increase the industrial development of mineral resources in Saudi Arabia while ensuring that the entire mining value chain is captured within the kingdom so we can deliver maximum value and job growth,” said Al Mudaifer.
“Through facilities like those at Ras Al-Khair, the industry is continuing to grow production volumes, increase investment, and maintain a sustained focus on the development of skilled human resources,” he concluded.