Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Ma’aden) and U.S.-based Alcoa started commercial operations at huge aluminium plant, Reuters reported. The $10.8bn aluminium plant at Ras al-Khair, on the Gulf coast of the kingdom, had experienced issues during the initial start-up phase last year when it had to shut one of its two smelting lines in October due to problems encountered during ramp-up. The smelter has a production capacity of 740,000 tonnes a year of aluminium, with commercial operations to begin impacting Ma’aden ‘s financials from the third quarter onwards, it said in a bourse filing. The Saudi project is important to Alcoa, both because of its size and the fact it should be the facility with the lowest production costs in the world – important at a time when the industry pushes to cut expenses. Alcoa owns 25% of the joint venture, with Ma’aden holding the balance.