Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) said on Thursday it had discovered multiple gold deposits south of its existing Mansourah Massarah gold mine, indicating the potential to expand gold mining in the area.
Maaden said in a statement that the finds, along a 100 kilometre (62-mile) strip, were the first from an exploration programme launched in 2022.
Samples taken indicated the presence of high grade gold deposits of 10.4 grams per tonne (g/t) gold and 20.6 g/t gold in two random drilling sites 400 meters from and under Mansourah Massarah, meaning a high density of gold was found in the ore tested from those locations, reports Reuters.
In light of these results, Maaden planned an “aggressive escalation of planned drilling activities” in 2024 around Mansourah Massarah, according to company documents.
Maaden’s CEO Robert Wilt told Reuters in October that the company planned to double its gold and phosphate production.
Mansourah Massarah had gold resources of almost seven million ounces at year-end 2023 and nameplate production capacity of 250,000 ounces a year, according to the statement.
Maaden is 67 per cent owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the kingdom’s $700 billion sovereign wealth fund, and the largest miner in the Gulf. In January 2023, it announced Manara Minerals, a joint venture with PIF to invest in mining assets abroad.
Its expansion is part of larger push to wean Saudi Arabia off of oil dependency under the auspices of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 programme.
Maaden has struggled in the past year as global prices for aluminium and phosphates dipped, posting a Q3 loss of 83.4 million riyals ($22.24 million) vs a 2.1 billion riyal profit last year.
($1 = 3.7500 riyals)