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Saudis to start exporting phosphates in Dec

Riyadh, January 27, 2010

A Saudi port will begin exporting phosphates in December from a plant jointly owned by Saudi Arabia Mining Co (Maaden) and Saudi Basic Industries Corp (Sabic), a Saudi newspaper reported.

The Ras Al-Zour port, built at a total cost of 2.27 billion riyals ($604.1 million), will begin trial operations in August, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported quoting the Saudi Ports Authority's head Khaled Boubchit.   

'The (Ras Al-Zour) port will receive in December the first ship to export the first cargo of phosphate produced by the (Ras Al-Zour industrial) complex,' Boubchit said.

The port's first phase of development was designed to mainly export phosphate and aluminium products made at the complex, he added.   

Maaden's spokesman Agueel Al-Onaizi could not be reached for comment. Maaden was initially planning to have the $3 billion phosphate and fertilisers joint-venture fully operational in 2011.

Like potash, phosphate is essential to crop production and, as the world's population has grown and the amount of arable land has barely budged, the need to boost yields has fueled a big interest in the fertilizer sector.

The prices of phosphate and potash fertilizers more than quadrupled a few years ago as grain prices rose and fertilizer demand skyrocketed. Prices peaked in mid-2008, but have fallen sharply since then as the credit crisis and recession hurt grain prices and, subsequently, fertilizer demand.

Maaden and US aluminium giant Alcoa have agreed to build a $10.8 billion aluminium complex at Ras al-Zour which would start production in 2013. Maaden is investing about 60 billion riyals to develop the kingdom's phosphate, bauxite, gold and industrial minerals and help reduce reliance on oil. - Reuters

Tags: Saudi Arabia | sabic | Maaden | Phosphate |

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