By Reem Shamseddine
KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia, July 12 (Reuters) – State-controlled mining firm Saudi Ma’aden plans to develop the Mansourah, Massarah gold mine, industry sources told Reuters.
Ma’aden operates six gold mines in the Central Arabian Gold Region, western Saudi Arabia which contains much of the Kingdom’s gold rich ore deposits. It has recently started operating the Ad Duwayhi gold mine.
The mining industry in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, has long been seen as having the potential to become one of the pillars of the Saudi economy.
The government plans to implement a new mining strategy that will help more than triple the mining industry’s contribution to national wealth as measured by GDP by 2030.
Saudi Arabia’s efforts to build an economy that does not rely on oil and state subsidies involves a shift towards mining vast untapped reserves of bauxite, the main source of aluminium, as well as phosphate, gold, copper and uranium.
The Mansourah-Massarah project, in the central region of Saudi Arabia, is expected to be completed by the end of 2020. An award of the engineering, procurement, construction contract is expected in the fourth quarter, one of the sources said.
The greenfield project will include the mine, processing plant and infrastructure. It will process 4 million tonnes per year of blended sulphide and oxide ore feed.
Ma’aden has overcome the challenge of developing gold mines in the central region by building a 430-km pipeline to bring treated wastewater from Taif to the gold mines. Ma’aden will use the water from Taif in the process.
Ma’aden said in written response to Reuters that the project is still under evaluation, declining to provide further details.
The company referred Reuters to its annual report for 2016 that mentioned that a detailed feasibility study was at an advanced stage of completion for the 5.4 million-ounce mineral resource at the Mansourah and Massarah project. (Editing by Greg Mahlich)