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Geosynthetics for Maaden Phosphate Tailings Pond

Case Studies | March 22, 2021 | By:

In phase 2 of this expansion project, Solmax provided 9,687,519 square feet (900,000 m2) of flawless double-sided, textured FrictionFlex geomembrane for new tailings ponds at a fertilizer plant in Saudi Arabia. The geosynthetics underwent stringent testing by the client and were found to be ideal.  

Maaden Phosphate Co., a joint venture with Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), aims to be a world-class, fully integrated phosphoric fertilizer producer. In 2014 it launched the Umm Wu’al Phosphate Project, to mine and process the phosphate deposits located there. With the project continually expanding, it needed to construct a new tailings pond. To ensure the highly toxic tailings were contained securely, a geosynthetic liner was required to line the pond.  

Solmax was selected to provide the 9,687,519 square feet (900,000 m2) of double-sided, textured FrictionFlex geomembrane for phase 2 of the project in 2020 and 2021. Solmax won this project based on its successful delivery of material during the first phase of the Umm Wu’al project in 2015–16, and stringent preselection criteria, namely 15 million square feet (1.4 million m2) of double-sided FrictionFlex geomembrane, and 5,920,151 square feet (550,000 m2) of FabriNet geocomposite. 

Key challenges Solmax is addressing in phase 2 are:  

  • Delivery of huge quantities of liner in challenging timeframes 
  • Meeting strict requirements with regards to flatness and smoothness of the liner in a very hot climate

Just as for the first phase of the project, strict protocols were put in place to ensure high quality requirements were met. The comprehensive preselection process was followed by around-the-clock in-factory production monitoring, product sampling and testing by Maaden’s engineering representatives. 

Two external inspectors were in the plant 24 hours a day, supervising material production and storage, quality monitoring and lab testing. Among other things, the inspectors witnessed spark testing of the material to ensure there were no leaks or flaws during the production process. They also oversaw sampling of the geomembrane for testing by an external laboratory. 

Solmax met all quality requirements, delivering all materials on time.

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