Trafigura JV to start building mega copper, zinc, lead smelting complex in Saudi Arabia next year – source

A joint venture between Trafigura and a Saudi Arabian company will start building a major copper, zinc and lead smelter complex in Saudi Arabia approximately one year from now, a company source has confirmed with Fastmarkets.

The designated capacity at the complex will be 400,000 tonnes per year of copper, 200,000 tpy of zinc and 55,000 tpy of lead, the source said.

The $2.8 billion project in Ras Al-Khair Mineral City, named SmeltCo, will be jointly developed and equally owned by Trafigura and Modern Mining Holding – an affiliate of the Riyadh-based Modern Industrial Investment Holding Group.

Its copper production capacity will be similar to some of the world’s major copper smelters, including Sterlite Copper’s Tuticorin 400,000 tpy smelter in India that has been cleared to resume production, and Chinalco’s Ningde 400,000 tpy project due to commence output in August.

No timetable has been disclosed on the commencement of the project.

Trafigura declined to comment when approached by Fastmarkets.

The project was first announced in October, attracting wide market attention to Saudi Arabia’s ambition to produce base metals. Saudi Arabia is home to major copper mining assets, including Jabal Sayid mine co-owned by Barrick and Ma’aden.

The construction of the new copper smelter could mean a higher demand for copper concentrates when it begins operations. Market participants have already been anticipating tighter copper concentrate supply in 2020.

In mid-January, Fastmarkets’ copper concentrate TC/RC index dropped to $82.3 per tonne / 8.23 cents per lb, its third consecutive decline after the market began to price second-quarter tonnages at lower levels because of anticipated concentrate tightness.

What to read next
Brazil's aluminium industry is further enhancing its sustainability by boosting renewable energy use and recycling, while mitigating risk from high-carbon imports
German copper producer Aurubis is among the least likely to consider reducing capacity despite record low treatment charges (TCs), according to its chief executive officer
European copper demand, particularly for wire rod, remains strong and seems to be outpacing broader macro-economic growth in the region, the chief executive officer of German producer Aurubis has said.
The process to place the smaller and less efficient of the two processing plants at Los Bronces on care and maintenance is expected to be completed by mid-2024 and comes as the company pushes value over volume, the chief executive officer of Anglo American Chile said
The near-term prospects for Chinese copper smelting capacity amid near-zero treatment charges (TCs) will, to a certain extent, depend on plants’ exposure to spot TCs, the chief executive officer of Rio Tinto’s copper division said on Tuesday, April 16
It will be very difficult for many Chinese copper smelters to compete with treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) at record lows, according to the chairman of Chile’s state-owned copper producer Codelco