Big Jump Planned for Saudi Arabian Gold Production


"Lack of water resources is one of the main challenges crippling gold exploration projects."


State-controlled minerals firm Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (Maaden) plans to more than double its gold production to 400,000 ounces per year by 2015, an executive said on Tuesday.

Maaden's current gold production is around 140,000150,000 ounces per year, Hany Al-Dabbagh, the company's vice president of precious metals and exploration, told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a MEED conference.

Lack of water resources is one of the main challenges crippling the exploration of gold projects.

"We have a number of new gold projects at an advanced stage and will build a 450-km-long water pipeline from Taif to the mine site in the Central Arabian Gold Region," he said.

"Gold is there but we don't have water. Water is as precious as gold," said Al-Dabbagh.

To get around the problem, the firm managed to secure 10,000 cubic meters per day of recycled waste water from the city of Taif for the central region of the Kingdom, where a number of gold mines have been identified, he added.

"(The mines will) initially include Ad Douwaihi, Massara, Mansoura and Ar Rjum. These four mines will be served by the water facility with the potential for more," said Al-Dabbagh.

"Other projects such as As Suq are also in development although are not served by the water pipeline."

Gold had gained a lot of interest from investors seeking a safe haven during the economic crisis.

On Tuesday, spot gold recovered from a session low of $1,505.69 an ounce and was quoted 0.1% higher at $1,514.60, set for a 1.5% gain this week.

"As long as our buyers are buying gold, we are in good business," said Al-Dabbagh.

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