Ma’aden’s head office in Riyadh

Ma’aden’s head office in Riyadh

Saudi minerals marked for growth

01 September 2014

SAUDI Arabia is fast tracking exploration of mineral resources in a bid to have a strong mining industry, industry leaders say.

Sultan bin Jamal Shawli, Deputy Minister for Mineral Resources at Saudi Arabia’s Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ministry, said: “The aim is to establish mining and its support services as the third pillar of the Saudi Arabian economy after hydrocarbons and petrochemicals.

“We have the minerals, the market and the potential to explore them. We are now turning to the private sector in the kingdom and the world outside to help us achieve our ambitious goals.”

Dr Zohair A Nawab, president of the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS), the kingdom’s globally-well respected minerals research and development agency based in Jeddah, remarked: “Mineral deposits in Saudi Arabia are widespread and of many types, ranging from metallic and non-metallic  to lightweight aggregate.” Giving a further insight, he said: “In the west, the Precambrian structure known as the Arabian Shield contains most of Saudi Arabia’s known metal deposits of gold, silver, copper, zinc, iron, and magnesium. East of the shield, the Phanerozoic zone contains oil resources and deposits of bauxite, phosphate, clay, limestone, silica sand, and lightweight aggregate that are of increasing importance to the industrial development of the kingdom. In total, these represent world-class deposits.”

Khalid S Al Mudaifer, president and CEO of the Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden), said: “There is great potential in the Arabian Shield and an enormous diversity of minerals across the kingdom.

“There is strong potential for further discoveries and these will require the application of modern techniques and a wide range of support services.”

Shawli, Nawab and Al Mudaifer will be keynote speakers at the Saudi Mining and Minerals Symposium 2014, a conference and exhibition to be held at the Al Faisaliah Hotel in Riyadh on November 10 to 13. It will be attended by up to 4,000 local and international visitors and delegates and is organised by Meed Events and Montogomery Star.

More than 100 speakers from government and business in Saudi Arabia and outside will provide the latest facts and insights about trends and opportunities in the kingdom’s minerals and mining supply chain.

The activity in Saudi Arabia’s mining industry is rising to a new crescendo this year, with the kingdom’s first bauxite mine, with capacity to produce four million tonnes a year, and the region’s first alumina refinery, a unit with capacity to process annually 1.8 million tonnes, will start operating together with a rolling mill of annual capacity of 380,000 tonnes in Ras al-Khair Minerals Industrial city on Saudi Arabia’s Gulf coast.

This will complete the kingdom’s bauxite-to-finished product integrated value-chain programme being developed by Ma’aden in partnership with Alcoa of the US. The 740,000 tonnes per year Ma’aden Aluminium Company smelter, the first of the four elements of the Ma’aden-Alcoa project, started operating in 2012. Bauxite will be delivered to the alumina smelter on the kingdom’s north-south mineral railway, which connects the Baitha bauxite mine with Ras Al Khair.

The symposium will hear how government agencies are working together to deliver radical acceleration in the exploitation of the kingdom’s minerals.

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