By Ulf Laessing
Railway will link the al Jalamid phosphate mine and the Az Zabirah bauxite mine.
Saudi Arabia has completed two thirds of a planned railway to transport phosphate and bauxite ore needed for a $10.8 billion project by miner Maaden and US firm Alcoa, state news agency SPA said.
The Gulf Arab state is building a railway linking a phosphate mine at al Jalamid and bauxite mine at Az Zabirah to processing facilities at the industrial hub Raz Azzour on the Gulf coast.
So far, 1,050 kilometers of the 1,486 kilometer long line has been built, SPA said on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia said in March the railway would be completed by year end.
The state-owned railway firm has signed a contract worth 278 million riyals ($74.13 million) with Indian government firm Rites to operate the railway.
State-controlled Maaden, in a joint venture with Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), is doubling capacity at its Saudi fertiliser plant to 6 million tonnes per year.
The project will use phosphate from a deposit at al Jalamid and local gas and sulphur supplies to manufacture the fertiliser diammonium phosphate (DAP).
Maaden is also building with US aluminium giant Alcoa a $10.8 billion aluminium complex at Ras Azzour which would start production in 2013.
Maaden has said both the phosphate and aluminium projects rely on the development and operation of a port to export DAP and ammonia for the phosphate project and for the import of raw materials, and export of alumina and aluminium for the aluminium project. (Reuters)