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Saudi Arabia's Ma'aden signs deals worth $260m with US firms

The mining firm awards contracts to Fluor Corp and Bechtel to help develop an industrial city in the country's north.

The Saudi Arabian mining firm Ma'aden signed deals worth 977 million Saudi riyals ($260 million) with US firms Fluor Corp and Bechtel to help develop an industrial city in the country's north, it said.

Saudi Arabia, home to the world's largest oil reserves, is keen to develop its mining industry to diversify the economy away from relying on oil.

Under one contract, worth 745 million riyals, Fluor Arabia will provide engineering consultancy services and manage the construction of a new phosphate project for Ma'aden, called Umm Wual in Waad Al-Shimal City for Mining Industries, Ma'aden said in a bourse statement issued late on Saturday.

Ma'aden also signed two other contracts worth 232 million riyals with Bechtel Arabia to monitor and manage the project to develop the city as well as preliminary designs of the infrastructure of the Waad Al-Shimal city.

The contracts run through late 2016, when phosphate production is expected to start from the mega project estimated to cost 26 billion riyals.

The scheme will have a production capacity of 16 million tonnes per year of phosphate concentrate, sulphuric acid, phosphoric acid, as well as plants to produce calcium monophosphate and calcium diphosphate.

Saudi Arabia's cabinet approved in February the establishment of the new city.

The Umm Wual project would add nearly 1.5 million tonnes annually of phosphorus oxide to Maaden's planned phosphate capacity.

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