Saudi Arabia on Thursday began aluminium production at its first smelter built through a joint venture between the Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma'aden) and US giant Alcoa, a statement said.
"Today we see the first aluminium produced in Saudi Arabia, and the launch of a new industry," Ma'aden President and CEO Khalid al-Mudaifer said at the inauguration of production in Ras al-Khair in Eastern Province.
The Ma'aden Aluminium joint venture is 74.9 percent-owned by the Saudi group, with the rest held by Alcoa.
The smelter is part of a joint venture agreed in 2009 to construct a giant industrial complex costing $10.8 billion.
In addition to the smelter which will have an initial annual capacity of 740,000 metric tonnes, the complex includes a bauxite mine with an initial capacity of four million metric tonnes per year, and an alumina refinery with an annual initial capacity of 1.8 million metric tonnes.
The complex also comprises a rolling mill with a capacity of 380,000 metric tonnes annually.
The smelter was built by Bechtel in 29 months.