The local United Arabian Mining Company (Manajem)plans to invest up to $200 million in the exploration, production and processing of zinc from its Al-Kunaiguiyah licence, 170 kilometres west of Riyadh.

‘The project will involve exploration and development of more than one site, and not just zinc, but also copper and gold,’ Manajem chief executive officer Mohammed al-Hatlani told MEED in mid-November. ‘We are speaking to specialist companies in Europe and America for the subcontract to carry out exploration work. The scheme’s scope will also include the construction of a process plant to extract and produce these minerals. All the indications suggest there is more than 50 million tonnes present.’

Discussions are under way with international consultants for the plant design. ‘We hope that in six months, design will be complete and then we can start construction,’ said Al-Hatlani. ‘Financing will come from either investors, local banks or the Saudi Industrial Investment Fund [SIDF].’

Manajem was awarded the licence from the Petroleum & Mineral Resources Ministry in August. Prior to the new mining code adopted at the beginning of the year, exploration and production could only be carried out by Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden– MEED 18:3:05).