Ma'aden is actively exploring for and evaluating new mineral resources in Saudi Arabia for the supply of local and international markets. The Company is evaluating the potential of several industrial minerals and base metals deposits with the intent to expand its mineral portfolio. Some of the industrial minerals under investigation include low-grade bauxite, phosphate , potash in near-surface, REE and iron ore. The relevant base metals under investigation include sediment-hosted copper, VMS (volcanogenic massive sulphide) lead-zinc and mafic to ultramafic hosted nickel-copper deposits.
Most of Ma'aden's precious metals exploration projects are located within the prospective Arabian Shield area, divided into three main administrative districts, namely the Central Arabian Gold, the Northern Shield and the Southern Shield Regions.
CENTRAL ARABIAN GOLD REGION (CAGR) PROSPECTS
Since the granting of the exploration license for the Ad Duwayhi prospect in 1998, Ma'aden has conducted an extensive exploration programme throughout targeted areas. Between 1999 and 2003 Ma'aden carried out a staged resource definition diamond core-drilling program with total drilling advance of 60, 000 meters in more than 550 holes. As the result of the Ma'aden drilling programs significant mineralization in a high-grade vein was outlined. The deposit is open at depth and to the southwest and there is potential to increase the high-grade.
BASE METALS EXPLORATION
Over the years Ma'aden has been producing base metals, mainly copper and zinc, as by-products for gold. The Ma'aden current base metal strategy is to select favourable mineral belts and explore for world-class base metal deposits to create sustainable base metal production in the kingdom. To this end Ma'aden is systematically evaluating the potential of all known base metals belts and is undertaking an ambitious programme consisting of extremely large airborne geophysical surveys to accelerate base metals exploration in the kingdom.
In 2015, Ma’aden completed over 300,000 meters of drilling of all types and collected over 200,000 geochemical and drilling samples. This included test drilling of copper and zinc targets identified from regional geophysical and geochemical surveys, and drill testing for metallurgical bauxite resources near the Al Baitha mine, all of which confirmed the need for further testing to confirm mineral prospects.
INDUSTRIAL MINERALS EXPLORATION
Ma'aden is exploring for phosphate, bauxite and magnesite resources to support ambitious expansion plans in its current industrial minerals value chains and to supply local and international markets.
Ma'aden is evaluating the Al Jalmid and Umm Wu'al exploration licence blocks and the overall phosphate rock potential of the Turayf-Sirhan basin in northern Saudi Arabia. The objective of the phosphate exploration program is to outline additional phosphate resources to support expansion plans for Ma'aden's phosphate interests.
At Az Zabirah Ma'aden is evaluating the potential of low grade bauxite and kaolin to establish a refractory business in the kingdom. Ma'aden is also exploring to delineate metallurgical grade bauxite outside the AMC mining lease area to support future expansion plans.
At Jabal Rokham, a magnesite deposit resource definition drilling is in progress to evaluate the the potential of the deposit to produce medium grade magnesite that can be blended with the high grade magnesite from Zarghat to feed the magnesite processing plant at Medina.
Ma'aden has completed the evaluation of the potential of producing commercial potash and other salts from near-surface brine aquifers at the Kaf and Hazawza exploration licences in the northern region of the Kingdom. Ma'aden has plans to develop the potash project on a fast-track basis to diversify its fertilizer and chemical industry.
All other industrial mineral exploration projects are at early reconnaissance stages and will be evaluated on an opportunistic basis.