Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Ma'aden) expects to start producing bauxite from a new mine in the second quarter of 2014, a company executive said.
Ma'aden and US partner Alcoa are developing a mine with the capacity to produce 4 million tons per year of raw material for their new aluminum complex in Saudi Arabia.
"We are going to get first bauxite from the mine in the second quarter of 2014," Khalid Abdullah Al-luhaidan, a senior Ma'aden aluminum executive, told a conference in Abu Dhabi.
The bauxite will be transported by rail from the Al Ba'itha mine in northeastern Saudi Arabia to the $10.8 billion complex at Ras Al Khair.
One of the two potlines at the new smelter shut due to problems during a ramp up in production in mid-October. A potline is a series of containers used to smelt aluminum.
"We are currently making a huge effort to bring it back," Luhaidan said. "We hope to bring it back in the first quarter of 2014."
The rolling mill at the complex should also start producing sheet aluminum in the first half of next year, he added.
Meanwhile, Australia's Alumina Ltd expects Saudi Arabia's 1.8 million alumina refinery to start production in the fourth quarter of 2014, manager corporate strategy and development Andrew Wood told delegates at Metal Bulletin's 3rd Asian bauxite and alumina conference.
"Our joint venture with Ma'aden – 4 million bauxite mine and 1.8-million tons alumina refinery is progressing well and is going to deliver first alumina in the fourth quarter of 2014," he said.
Alumina's strategy is to invest worldwide in bauxite mining, alumina refining and selected aluminum-smelting operations through its 40 percent ownership of Alcoa World Alumina & Chemicals (AWAC), the world's largest alumina business. Alcoa owns the remaining 60 percent stake in AWAC.
AWAC has a 25.1 percent stake in the mine and refinery JV project in Saudi Arabia with Ma'aden.
"We are watching the Indonesia situation carefully," Wood told Metal Bulletin on the sidelines of the conference, adding that the company was interested in investing in Indonesia but was looking for more clarity as to how the Indonesian ban on export of minerals from 2014 plays out.
The West Kalimantan region of Indonesia will need infrastructure including, road, ports, energy plants to be able to attract more investment from the downstream industry, he added.
The Saudi Gazette