Saudi Arabia's Ma'aden looks to refinance $5bn of debt next year

State mining firm looks to restructure loans linked to huge Waad Al Shamaal phosphate complex that opened last year

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Saudi Arabian Mining Company, also known as Ma'aden, will look to raise $5 billion (Dh18.36bn) to refinance the Waad Al Shamaal project, an industrial city with a phosphate mining complex in the country's north, according to the firm's chief executive.

The company will consider different options, including refinancing the entire scheme or a partial refinancing.

"We're looking at the Waad Al Shamal financing, which is about $5bn total," Darren Davis told reporters in Dubai.

"We're at the early stages of that one and we'll close next year," he added.

The Waad Al Shamaal project is a 440-square-kilometre city built at a cost of 85 billion riyals (Dh83.24bn) in the country's north and forms part of efforts by the Saudi state to diversify the country away from its dependence on hydrocarbons. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest exporter of crude is looking to treble the contribution of the mining sector to the country's overall economic output by 2030.

Ma'aden, which has interests in phosphate, gold, and aluminium, plans to continue paying down its debt, even as it looks to acquire more assets to grow its fertiliser and copper segments, said Mr Davis.

"We're looking at acquisitions this year and next ... it's a good time to buy," he said.

"[Acqusitions will be] mainly around fertilisers, copper and maybe gold but we're being disciplined," he added.

Ma'aden acquired 85 per cent of the Mauritian fertiliser group Meridien earlier this year at a value of $140 million. The acquisition was the first outside the country for the mining group and gives the Saudi firm access to Meridien's existing facilities in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Ma'aden is also looking to add more copper - a metal that finds wide-ranging uses in wiring - to its portfolio.

"Copper is a fantastic metal to be in and it will take off in the next few years. If we buy some existing copper exposure we can do it outside of Saudi Arabia," said Mr Davis.

Ma'aden, which is majority-owned by the kingdom's sovereign Public Investment Fund, recently appointed its governor Yasir Al Rumayyan as the chairman of the mining company.

Saudi Arabia also decoupled mineral resources from the country's energy ministry this year through a royal decree, appointing businessman Bandar Alkhorayef as the head of the new industry and mineral resources ministry. Ma'aden's profit for the first nine months of the year reached 1.9bn riyals, while revenue was 10.3bn riyals for the same period.