CHAIN REACTION

Saudi Arabia 2017 | INDUSTRY & MINING | FOCUS: RAS AL-KHAIR MINING

Coastal, mineral-rich Ras Al-Khair will establish Saudi Arabia as a leader in the global mining sector, contributing to national diversification efforts.

Efforts to establish Saudi Arabia's mining sector on the global stage were foregrounded on November 29, 2016, with the inauguration of the world-class industrial city at Ras Al-Khair.

The USD35-billion, multi-commodity minerals hub will be central to developing one of the Kingdom's most promising emergent industries. The event marked the completion of a comprehensive mine-to-end product value chain that will help the country reduce its dependence on oil revenues, one of the central goals of the Saudi Vision 2030.

Tens of thousands of tons of phosphate, bauxite ore, and other minerals extracted from the mines in the Kingdom's northern and central regions are transported along a 1,400-km railway line constructed by the Saudi Railway Company to be processed at the complexes of mining giant Ma'aden.

These facilities include a USD5.6-billion integrated phosphate complex operated in partnership with the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), which has so far generated 1,700 jobs for Saudi citizens. It currently produces 3 million tons of phosphate fertilizer each year, and has the capacity to manufacture phosphoric acid, sulfuric acid, and ammonia. Also, a USD10.8 billion integrated aluminium complex run in cooperation with Alcoa features an alumina refinery that produces 1.8 million tons a year, a smelter with a 740,000-ton output, and a rolling mill with 380,000 tons. These have provided 3,700 new jobs, and features one of the region's largest and most advanced aluminium recycling facilities. Goods processed at these plants can then be exported internationally through a USD800-million harbor developed by the Saudi Ports Authority.

Ma'aden's phosphate operations are set to expand with the opening of an USD8-billion production complex in the northern city of Wa'ad Al Shamal in 2017. This project is expected to produce 2.9 million tons of phosphate fertilizer each year.

“We have earmarked Ras Al-Khair to be the centerpiece of our strategy to create a world-class mining industry. We are confident that the Kingdom will be a global mining leader in the future thanks to the continuous support of all our partners in the public and private sectors in establishing this critically important project,” stated Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih, whose ministry is a key stakeholder in the project's development.

The mining industry is continuing to develop and in recent years recorded an increase in licenses and significant growth in production volumes as a result of many new dedicated facilities coming online, stemming from increased investment from the private sector and a sustained focus on the development human resources. By 2020, mining activity in the Kingdom is expected to provide 90,000 direct jobs and contribute USD25.9 billion annually to Saudi Arabia's GDP.

Ras Al-Khair also features one of the world's largest desalination and power plants, along with a fully functioning village for workers. It is set to generate 12,000 jobs directly and tens of thousands of indirect opportunities for the local workforce. An estimated annual contribution of over USD9 billion toward the Kingdom's non-oil GDP is also forecast.

The various facilities at Ras Al-Khair will be formally inaugurated by HH Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, under the title: “The inauguration of Ras Al-Khair, the center of Saudi mining.”