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Sun 27 Nov 2016 02:44 PM

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Saudi Arabia's $35bn minerals hub 'to launch this week'

Ras Al Khair commodities complex intended to boost Saudi mining sector

Saudi Arabia's $35bn minerals hub 'to launch this week'
Image for illustrative purpose only. (Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman is to launch a $35 billion minerals and commodities complex in the Eastern Province on Tuesday, according to local media reports.

Ras Al Khair, which has been 10 years in the making, is expected to play a central role in the development of key non-oil industries in Saudi Arabia – integral to implementation of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic diversification strategy.

The new industrial ‘city’ houses aluminium and phosphate production facilities, supported by infrastructure including a 1,400-kilometer railway connecting to the main mines in the country, a major port supporting export operations, one of the world’s largest desalination and power plants and a fully functioning village for workers, Saudi Gazette reported.

Among the facilities is an aluminium refinery, smelter and rolling mill operated Madden Aluminium, a $10.8 billion joint venture between Saudi Arabia’s Maaden and Alcoa. It also has a recycling plant for drinks cans.

Maaden also operates a phosphate fertiliser plant at Ras Al Khair, in a joint venture with the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC).

The commodities complex is situated adjacent to the $800 million port at Ras Al Khair, developed by Saudi Ports Authority and built to serve as an export hub for petrochemical, phosphate and aluminium products.

Maaden CEO Khalid Al Mudaifer told Arab News that the substantial capital invested by companies such as SABIC and Alcoa demonstrates of the potential of the kingdom’s mining sector.

“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,” he was quoted as saying.

The complex has already provided 12,000 direct jobs and tens of thousands more indirect jobs to Saudi nationals, he claimed, adding: “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.

“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.”