Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Ma’aden) is considering full or partial refinancing of debt it raised for the Waad al-Shamal phosphate project, which is about $5 billion in total, its chief executive said on Thursday.
The Gulf’s largest miner and world’s third-biggest phosphate producer has the necessary cash flow to pay down its existing debt but is looking to better manage its obligations at a time of low commodity prices, Ma’aden CEO Darren Davis told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.
“We are looking at different options, whether we refinance the whole thing or partially. We are still in the early stages on that one. Our goal is to do it next year,” said Davis of the planned debt refinancing.
Majority owned by Saudi Arabia’s PIF sovereign wealth fund, Ma’aden is also looking into several potential acquisitions this year and the next, Davis said.
“We are looking all the time, there are a lot of changes around the world, we think it’s a good time to buy,” he said, adding that deals would mainly involve fertilisers, copper and possibly gold assets.
Ma’aden, which mines gold and copper and has in recent years expanded into aluminium and phosphates, is key to Saudi Arabia’s plan to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbons.
The Saudi government aims to more than triple mining’s contribution to the nation’s economic output by 2030.
(By Dahlia Nehme; Editing by Davide Barbuscia and David Goodman)