Success in copper opens new frontiers for growth

We believe that strategic international investments in copper will result in significant synergies for Ma’aden, leading to higher profitability and stronger exploration and mining capabilities

Copper is one of Ma’aden’s new success stories. Our jointly controlled entity Ma’aden Barrick Copper Company (MBCC) started commercial production of copper concentrates on July 1, 2016.

Our 2025 strategy is to build on this success to develop our copper portfolio further. It acknowledges that base metals, especially copper and zinc, offer good potential in the global minerals market. Saudi Arabia has significant mineral deposits with the potential to produce base metals, but these will take time to develop fully, from exploration through to production.

While we assess that potential and maintain focus on operational excellence, we will weigh global opportunities to expand our copper production. We believe that strategic international investments in copper would result in significant synergies for Ma’aden, leading to higher profitability and stronger exploration and mining capabilities that can be used to further develop the potential copper resources in Saudi Arabia.

We established the jointly controlled entity Ma’aden Barrick Copper Company (MBCC) with Barrick Gold Corporation in 2014 to develop and complete the construction of the new copper mine at Jabal Sayid. In the six months of operations since the commercial startup of the mine (July-December 2016), we exceeded our annual production target with output of 26,898 tonnes and brought down our cash costs. 

MBCC sells the copper concentrates to smelters that produce copper cathodes and continuous cast copper rods that are used for the manufacture of diverse electrical products. Copper is also used extensively in automotive and telecommunication industries.

Aside from rolling out the operational excellence program, MBCC’s priorities include the de-bottlenecking of mine constraints and the development of adjoining resources and new underground resources to extend the mine life. In 2016, we made considerable progress in constructing a paste fill plant, which is due for completion in 2017.

Jabal Sayid, located over 300 km northeast of Jeddah, has a mine life of 17 years with proven and probable reserves of 24.8 million tonnes at 2.55 percent grade. MBCC will continue exploration work within the mining license area as part of its long-term growth strategy based on life of mine (LOM) assessment. During 2017, we will evaluate the target prospect of nearby Wadi Rafara.