Saudi mining firm plans $7bn phosphate plant

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(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) is looking to raise US$7bn to fund a phosphate project with a production capacity of 16m tonnes per year.

The cash will go towards the Umm Wual development at Waad Al-Shimmal City in the north of the country, which is being developed by Maaden and US firm Fluor Corp and Bechtel, following a SAR977m (US$260.5m) deal which was struck in December.

Connected infrastructure at Ras Al Khair will also be improved using some of the finances.

The amount of money to be raised from the market has yet to be finalized, said Khalid Al-Rowais, vice president of finance at Maaden, but government funds, international and local banks, and export credit agencies would be involved. Issuing an Islamic bond is also a possibility.

“A sukuk is an option but the most important thing is to have the right balance to suit the project,” Rowais said, adding that talks were ongoing with its financial advisor HSBC.

Saudi government funds the Public Investment Fund and the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, as well as ECAs, will be approached in April about funding the project, with invitations to commercial banks expected in July.

Production of phosphate is expected to start in late 2016, with the scheme having a production capacity of 16m tonnes per year of phosphate concentrate, sulphuric acid, phosphoric acid, calcium monophosphate and calcium diphosphate.

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