With Riyadh Metro Progressing, Bechtel Eyes Mining Sector Growth as Saudi Arabia Diversifies

Bechtel, the construction company behind some of the world’s largest and most impressive megaprojects, is eyeing growth in Saudi Arabia’s mining and minerals sector, according to reports and quotes by the company’s Saudi Arabia country manager.

“Mining and metals is something that is of extreme interest to us,” said Abdulrahman Al Ghabban, who was appointed as Saudi Arabia country manager for the US-based construction company last month, as reported in The National. “We see the government is going in the right direction in terms of putting in the right framework for companies to come and invest. And we believe mining and metals is [an] untapped sector here in Saudi.”

Maaden employees at the Waad Al-Shamaal project.

Maaden employees at the Waad Al-Shamaal project.

As part of its massive Vision 2030 economic and social reform plans, Saudi Arabia’s government has said it will aim to increase the mining sector’s economic contribution to $26bn (SAR97), 18,000 times more than 2015 revenues of $140m (SAR520m).

The company has already completed several major mining and minerals projects in the Kingdom and around the world. The company delivered a $4bn aluminium refinery at Ras Al Khair Industrial City in the northern part of Saudi Arabia. Ma’aden has also called on Bechtel to oversee the engineering and construction of a new complex near Turayf, in the northern part of Saudi Arabia. In 2012, Bechtel developed the megaproject’s master plan in advance of performing front-end engineering and design. Construction began in 2013 and the value of the project is $7.5 billion.

Bechtel, which is the largest construction company based in the United States, is still privately held after decades in business. The company has worked on major projects across the world. Most recently, Bechtel has led a consortium of companies working on the Riyadh metro, which is set to change the city’s transportation infrastructure.

“The Riyadh Metro is just the kind of epic, technically mind-boggling undertaking that makes its lead contractor, Bechtel, perhaps the world’s leading builder of one-of-a-kind megaprojects,” Forbes wrote in an in-depth report on the company. “A Bechtel-led team is installing 39 miles of tunnels, viaducts, deep-underground stations, and soaring terminals, all in the heart of a city that has never seen a bit of commuter track.”

At $10.1 billion, the Riyadh job is the biggest lump-sum civil engineering project ever awarded to a single team, Forbes said. “For size and complexity, this is the biggest civil engineering job we’ve ever done,” says Amjad Bangash, the Bechtel SVP who’s overseeing the project.