Yesterday, Alcoa and Ma’aden announced the start of work to extend the product mix of their aluminium complex currently under construction at Ras Al Khair, Saudi Arabia. This and other projects are extensively covered in International Mining’s article on Saudi mining projects in the April issue. This latest milestone will enable the two companies to include capability for producing about 100,000 t of a wide range of products suitable for further downstream manufacturing in the complex’s product lines. They include automotive heat-treated and non-heat-treated sheet, building and construction sheet and foil stock sheet. Depending on demand, the line will start production at the end of 2014. An EPCM contract has been awarded to Fluor. An award has also been released to SMS Siemag for supply of the mill equipment and heat treatment line equipment.“This step will place Saudi Arabia among the world’s foremost aluminium producers by combining the highest standards of quality with the exceptional cost competitiveness of this world-class project,” said Khalid Mudaifer, Ma’aden’s President and CEO. “These new capabilities will help establish downstream industries in Saudi Arabia using aluminium that has been mined, refined, smelted and rolled in the Kingdom. It is also fully compatible with the national strategy of developing national resources to create sustainable wealth and employment for Saudis, as well as enabling the replacement of a wide range of imports with cost-effective, high-quality domestic products, and encouraging the expansion of the national industrial base. Many future generations of our citizens will be able to trace their long and successful career paths in business and industry to the decisions we are making here today.”In making the announcement, Engr. Abdullah Busfar, Vice President of Ma’aden’s Aluminium Strategic Business Unit, said the additional products reflect the commitment of the two companies to the realisation of the first fully integrated aluminium industry in the Middle East.“The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has set the vision and established the infrastructure to enable the development of the world’s largest, lowest cost, fully integrated aluminium industrial complex. The Ma’aden Alcoa joint venture is systematically establishing both the foundation for this industry and the capability to support local downstream sectors as they develop. Potentially, there are thousands of jobs and career opportunities awaiting in those downstream sectors, and we have the ability within this complex to quickly respond with advanced expertise, proven best practices and high-quality products to support them as they emerge,” Busfar said.Ken Wisnoski, Alcoa Vice President and President of Alcoa’s Primary Products Growth group, added that the additional products further the joint venture’s lead in the establishment of a worldclass aluminium manufacturing facility in the Kingdom.“Throughout this complex, we are bringing in the best technologies in their class and developing the local skills and operational routines to extract the most efficient, high-quality production from them. This was already the first and only facility in the Middle East capable of producing food-grade can sheet. Extending its capabilities significantly increases that advantage,” Wisnoski said.The complex’s smelter and rolling mill are scheduled to begin production in 2013. The mine and refinery will follow in 2014.In its initial phases, the joint venture will develop a fully integrated industrial complex, which is intended to become the world’s pre-eminent and lowest-cost supplier of primary aluminium, alumina and aluminium products, with access to the growing markets of the Middle East and beyond. The complex comprises:A bauxite mine with an initial capacity of 4 Mt/yAn alumina refinery with an initial capacity of 1.8 Mt/yAn aluminium smelter with an initial capacity of 740,000 t/yA rolling mill, with initial capacity of 380,000 t/y.The mill will be the first in the Middle East and will be one of the most technically advanced mills in the world.First commercial production from smelter and mill is scheduled for 2013, followed by first commercial production of alumina from the mine and refinery complex, scheduled for 2014. Alcoa will supply alumina to the smelter in the interim period.