Saudi Arabia minerals review

By
Published: Friday, 22 May 2009

Seeking Saudi mineral potential: A shift in national policy to diversify into non-oil resources has prompted domestic development and overseas interest in Saudi Arabia’s considerable wealth of untapped industrial minerals

Saudi Arabia is undergoing a major transformation in its development of natural resources. Diversification of its economic base has been an important objective for the oil-rich nation towards achieving its goal of sustainable development. Saudi Arabia has recognised the importance of the minerals and mining sector, with special emphasis on industrial minerals.

There are enormous tapped and untapped industrial minerals resources in the country which could contribute to the country’s revenue and provide a strong base for diversification.

Domestic and overseas interest in the mineral potential of Saudi Arabia is growing, as evidenced by a recent workshop attracting the likes of Imerys, Carmeuse, Dorfner, Hosokawa, and Outotec (see later).

In essence, the Saudi government foresaw the consequences of depending on finite oil resources which can be influenced by the world’s geopolitical issues and unstable international energy markets. Thus diversification became a major part of the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Development Plans (the 8th over the period 2005-2009).

The target for growth of the mining sector during the 8th Development Plan is 7.9%, with $11,900m. forecast for mining expenditure to 2020. A new Mining Code introduced in 2004 also facilitated a more attractive climate to foreign investment in the minerals sector.

 
 Sameer Mousa Idres, Assistant Project Manager, UMIC, demonstrates a sample of Farasan marble finished product for local FGD application.


Industry status

Saudi Arabia’s industrial minerals industry is composed of many small and medium sized operations producing construction materials (eg. marble, granite, limestone, basalt), including raw material for cement and red bricks, and dimension stone. Other operations produce minerals for ceramics and glass, salt is also produced and sulphur as a by-product of oil refining (see table).

There are several large scale producers, such as: Adwan Chemical Industries Co. Ltd (200,000 tpa silica sand), Saudi Carbonate Co. Ltd (200,000 tpa GCC), Saudi Sand Lime Bricks & Building M.Co. (215,000 tpa lime, 40,000 tpa hydrated lime, 120,000 tpa GCC and dolomite), and, more recently, UMIC (480,000 tpa marble, see panel).

There are also captive producers of minerals. Saudi Ceramic Co., for example, owns mines and plants producing kaolin, feldspar, and silica. Omar Yassin Sheik Al-Deen, raw materials manager, Saudi Ceramic Co. told IM: “We soon plan to start exporting milled silica.”

Construction, glass, and ceramics remain established and important markets for the country’s minerals. Driven by strong demand, the cement industry had an installed capacity of 38m. tonnes in 2007, up 46% over 2006, and the industry plans to nearly double capacity to 70m. tonnes by 2013. Mineral wool is also produced in Saudi Arabia, about 39,000 tonnes in 2005, which consumes basalt and limestone.

While these established suppliers and markets remain important to the domestic industry, it is clear that Saudi Arabia is aiming to develop key industrial mineral deposits for domestic and export markets, and in particular, targeting added value grades for more sophisticated mineral consuming markets.

With regard to filler minerals, for example, Gulf Cooperation Council countries have seen a massive growth in polymer production in recent years which is expected to continue. Polyethylene production in the region is expected to grow by more than 150% to 2011, while polypropylene (PP) capacity is forecast to increase >400% over the same period. Saudi Arabia is the region’s dominant player, with a new 175,000 tpa plastic compounding facility, and two PP plants (700,000 tpa combined) being constructed at Rabigh.

Rich potential

While there appears to be no definitive list of potential industrial mineral resources identified as being commercially viable, a variety of sources point towards a veritable treasure trove of hot prospects, including: barytes, bauxite, bentonite, dolomite, feldspar, fluorspar, garnet, graphite, gypsum, kaolin, limestone, magnesite, mica, nepheline syenite, olivine, phosphate, rare earths, refractory clays, silica sand, sillimanite, and zeolites.

In 1997, the Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (Ma’aden) was established to drive private investment in the mining sector, and in 2008 50% of the company was privatised. Two primary ongoing projects under Ma’aden include its Phosphate Project at Al Jalamid (a j-v with SABIC aiming at 5m. tpa phosrock concentrate and 200,000 tpa phosphoric acid) and Aluminium Project at Az Zabirah (4m. tpa bauxite targeted) and Ras Az Zawr (1.8m. tpa alumina plant at Jubail planned).

Infrastructure development is key to boosting the mining sector in Saudi Arabia, and is critical to Ma’aden’s two main projects. Plans have been implemented for a new 1,408km northeastern railway line to link Riyadh with the mineral rich northern region including Al Jalamid, Qassim, Hail, and Al Jawf. The main line will be connected with branch lines to join Az Zabirah and Jubail. A new port is also to be constructed at Ras Az Zawr, 80km north-east of Jubail.

Other Ma’aden projects include the Zarghat magnesite deposit, and kaolin (50,000 tpa) and “low grade bauxite” (250,000 tpa cement grade) at Az Zabirah. However, Ma’aden has been unable to comment on the status of these developments, which are understood to remain at early stages of development. Ma’aden interests also include refractory clays, sillimanite, graphite, bentonite, attapulgite, diatomite, silica, garnet, wollastonite, and mineral brines.

Elsewhere, United Mining Investments Co. (UMIC) is actively pursuing GCC, PCC, feldspar, and quartz projects (see p.37). Tertiary Minerals Plc is evaluating the Ghurayyah rare minerals deposit, containing tantalum, niobium, rare earths, zirconium, and yttrium. The project is being funded jointly by Tertiary (Middle East) Ltd together with a consortium of Saudi investors (AH Algosaibi Bros. Co. and Al Nahla Trading & Contracting Co.).

Earlier this year, US fused minerals producer, Washington Mills Electro Minerals Corp. started sounding out the potential of a 24,000 tpa silicon carbide plant at Jubail, as part of a joint venture with local investor Ahmad H. Algosaibi & Brothers Co. and Japan’s Sumitomo Corp. Inc.

Potential areas highlighted by the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS) for “large scale enterprises” investing in Saudi Arabia’s minerals sector include the manufacturing of silica based products such as resin-coated sand (foundry sand), frac sand (oil and gas drilling), fumed silica, and fused silica.

Other key investment targets include micronising limestone/marble/dolomite for filler applications, and processing feldspar and kaolin for value added markets. Certain high alumina clays are also being looked at as a possible alternative feedstock for brown fused alumina production.

Strategically, new sources of rare earths, frac sand, barytes, bauxite, phosphate, and magnesite, would be welcomed by world, as well as regional Middle East markets.

Workshop report

As part of the drive to highlight Saudi Arabia’s minerals development and potential, the SGS, in collaboration with the Deputy Ministry of Mineral Resources (DMMR) and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) organised a special workshop in Jeddah on 9 March 2009: Workshop – Investment Opportunities in Saudi Industrial Minerals.

The workshop took place on the eve of the 8th Meeting of the Saudi Society for Geosciences, also in Jeddah, 9-12 March and was attended by around 80 delegates, of which 30 were from overseas.

Opening the workshop at the lecture hall of the SGS Jeddah office, Dr Zohair Nawab, president of the SGS, welcomed delegates and reinforced the importance of industrial minerals development as part of the country’s policy to diversify its natural resource programme.

The day progressed with eleven presentations from leading experts covering Saudi industrial minerals investment, exploitation, and potential, limestone, processing of silica sand, co-operation with Malaysia, innovations in comminution, Egyptian minerals, and the outlook for silica.

A vibrant and informative discussion period followed most papers, which continued among delegates during the coffee breaks in the limited exhibition outside the auditorium.

Breaking ground

The workshop keynote address by Mike O’Driscoll, Editor IM, UK, was entitled “Global trends in the industrial minerals industry: opportunities and challenges.” The presentation set the scene by outlining the fundamentals of the business and some of the main issues facing the industry, these include: regulation, globalisation, China, strategic focusing, environment, economic recession, and emerging markets. The author then highlighted how these trends could lead to market opportunities, and in particular, how they could benefit the development Saudi industrial minerals.

Mohammad Al Muallem, Assistant Deputy Minister Mining Investments, DMMR and Nabeel Ekram, Director of Mining Investments, DMMR, Saudi Arabia, presented “Status and development of mining investment and its role in the national economy.” The paper detailed the role of the DMMR and its implementation of the new Mining Investment Law over the past five years: “[the new law] gave investors more transparency in terms of exploration and exploitation rights and also gave local and foreign investors streamlined procedures and financial incentives.”

During 1995-2007, the number of mining licences were claimed to have increased by 100%, and by the end of 2007, the number of active mining licenses amounted to 1,314 covering an area of 141,000km2.

Another role of the DMMR is the reservation of mining areas for mining rights for investors. This was covered in the paper by Hamza Badawi, senior geologist, director of Concessions Department, and Ahmed Fagih, engineer, director of Technical Projects Unit, DMMR, Saudi Arabia, in their paper “The role of reserving mineral deposits for mining investment in the development of the mineral resource sector.”

The presentation focused on how mining areas were identified, based on criteria such as raw material availability, proximity to urban and agricultural areas, and the environment. These included prospects for magnesite, limestone, silica sand, granite, marble, pozzolans, and aggregates.

Chris Spencer, independent minerals consultant, UK, provided an interesting review of industrial minerals exploration in Saudi Arabia in his paper “A brief history of industrial minerals exploration in Saudi Arabia”. Exploration began in the mid-1960s, and was low key, focusing on construction materials near Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dharhran. It stepped up during the mid-1970s-mid-1980s, targeting “big” deposits at Zarghat, Zabirah, and Turayf. By 2002, with the departure of the BRGM of France, and the USGS, the SGS was created.

The National Mineral Policy 2, recently launched in Malaysia, and how lessons learned from its implementation could assist Saudi Arabia, was just one of the topics of “Collaboration between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia in mineral resource development” by Dr Mohammed Ajib Anuar, president, and Muhamad Nor Muhamad, executive director of the Malaysian Chamber of Mines, Malaysia.

Similarities between the two countries’ development of limestone and dimension was discussed, and how in Malaysia the success of rehabilitation of former mining areas into other forms of economic activities might also benefit Saudi Arabia.

Limestone

Limestone as aggregate, FGD material, or GCC for plastics is an important resource of Saudi Arabia. The subject of high purity limestone was the theme for Clive Mitchell, industrial minerals specialist, British Geological Survey, UK, in his paper “High purity limestone assessment: from mine to market.”

Mitchell started by defining high purity limestone and its key markets before going on to describe exploration methodology, using the BGS’s practice as an example. BGS reconnaissance surveys employ screening criteria for quality definition, the chief criterion in this case being CaCO3 content: >98.5% very high purity; 97-98.5%, high purity; 93.5-97.0% medium purity; 85.0-93.5% low purity; and <85%, impure.

The BGS has recently added magnesia, silica, and iron oxide compositions as further quality criteria as well as the use of portable XRF analysers. Mitchell also provided a re-assessment of Saudi limestone deposits based on the BGS purity criteria.

Silica

There is much interest in evaluating and developing the region’s silica deposits, so much so that there is a Silica Arabia 09 Workshop on 26 October 2009, as part of the MENA Mining Congress 2009. Not surprisingly, the Jeddah workshop had two papers dedicated to silica.

Dietmar Alber, general manager, Mineral and Metal Division, Hosokawa Alpine AG, Germany, reviewed recent innovations in silica sand processing in his paper “Dry and wet micronisation of silica sand down to the nano range.” Dry processing of silica sand was described using a ball mill in combination with screening and a two stage classification. The requirements of the ceramic market include very steep particle size distributions which include for coarse sizes a D97=45-75μ (eg. for ceramic bodies) , and the fine sizes with a top cut of D97=10-20μ (eg. for glazes).

However, although dry processing can achieve powders down to D50=1μ, only wet processing can achieve the finer sizes of D50=200-400 nanometres (eg. for IT applications).

Mian Habib, advisor, industrial minerals, Saudi Geological Survey, Saudi Arabia, switched the silica theme from processing to market applications with this paper “Silica: today’s raw material for tomorrow’s high tech industrial products.” Habib described how conventional exploitation of silica sand in Saudi Arabia had been for only the glass and construction industries. But with the implementation of improved processing, silica and quartz deposits could be mined for a range of market applications.

Habib said: “Relatively high purity quartz combined with the favourable infrastructural conditions is viable for commercial production and attracting investments in the country.” Examples included “relatively pure quartz” of (98.5-99.0% SiO2) potential for silicon metal production, and the manufacture of photovoltaic and semiconductor wafers. Quartz could also be further purified for use in high quality optical applications, halogen lamps, and in optical fibres.

Mineral processing

Rubén Segovia, business developer, selFrag AG, Switzerland, presented “Application of pulsed high voltage discharges in comminution: new horizons in mineral processing.” Segovia outlined several advantages of this method of grinding, including: selective fragmentation, complete liberation of minerals, reduction of work index of treated rocks, minimal production of fines, low contamination, and minimal maintenance. Segovia described the two selFrag lines of such systems, one for batch processes and one for continuous processes.

In their paper “Recent advancements in mineral processing”, by Jim Sadowski, director Technical Services, and Peter Dunn, business development director, Minerals Processing, Physical Separation, Outotec (USA) Inc., USA, developments in processing quartz and feldspar were examined.

Advancements in dry tribelectrostatic separation were shown to have allowed for a more stable and effective separation of quartz and feldspar using only a fraction of the amount of hydrofluoric acid used in the conventional froth flotation method with an amine collector, and in a very controlled environment. The paper also discussed test work conducted on a sample of quartz/feldspar from Saudi Arabia.

Egypt upgrades

Some interesting light was shed on work being conducted on some Egyptian minerals. Prof. Dr Nagui Abdel-Khalek, chairman of the Minerals Technology Dept., Central Metallurgical Research & Development Institute (CMRDI), Egypt, reviewed how Egyptian ores of kaolin, feldspar, albite, and nepheline syenite were of such low grade that they required beneficiation in order to meet ceramic market requirements. Dr Abdel-Khalek described the efforts of the CMRDI to produce such added value minerals in Egypt.

Continuing the Egyptian theme, Mohammed Naiem, geology and research manager, ASCOM, Egypt, highlighted the activities and business of ASEC Co. for Mining (ASCOM). ASCOM historically specialised in offering geological and mining solutions to the cement industry, but has since expanded into building materials, and manufacturing operations for ground calcium carbonate, and mineral and glass wool.

Acknowledgements

Our gratitude is expressed to Mian Habib and colleagues at the SGS for their kind invitation to the author to attend and present at the workshop, and also in arranging the field trip to UMIC’s limestone operation at Rabigh. Special thanks to Sameer Mousa Idreas and colleagues at UMIC for their time and hospitality in hosting the author at Rabigh.

Saudi geology & industrial minerals

Saudi Arabia occupies an area of more than 2m.km2 and its rocks range in age from the Precambrian to the present day. The country is divided geologically into four distinct and extensive terrains:

1. The Proterozoic Arabian Shield, comprising metamorphosed volcano sedimentary successions intruded by granite and gabbros.

2. The Phanerozoic Arabian platform of clastic, calcareous, and evaporitic successions dipping gently eastward away from the Shield.

3. The Tertiary ‘harrats’ (extensive basalt plateaus) mainly overlying the Shield.

4. The narrow Red Sea coastal plain of Tertiary and Quaternary sedimentary rocks and coral reefs.

Precious and industrial metals have been mined in Saudi Arabia for at least 5,000 years. The Precambrian rocks contain most of Saudi Arabia’s known metallic deposits of gold, silver, copper, zinc, iron, and magnesium. The Phanerozoic cover contains the oil resources and deposits of bauxite, phosphate, clay, limestone, silica sand, and lightweight aggregate that are becoming of increasing importance to the industrial development of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia industrial minerals production, trade & consumption (tonnes)

Mineral Production1 Import2 Exports2 Consumption
Barytes 31,121 231,481 - 1,600,003
Basalt 64,132 na - 81,8003; 35,000 for mineral wool1
Bentonite - 124,618 - >100,0003
Dolomite 23-Nov - 3,976
Feldspar Jan-32 67,911 - 80,5003; 64% ceramics, 28% glass1
Gypsum 879,423 70,317 49,311 1.5m.3
Kaolin 2,138 74,882
Limestone 615,400 223,435 27,893 1m.3; 93% glass, 4% ceramics1
Salt 1.6m. - 97,025
Silica Sand 646,000 41,875 349,908 6,595,003
 1 2006 estimates; 2 2007 data; 3 2009 estimate

Source: SGS; DMMR

Pursuing silica markets

One of the primary minerals being pushed for development in Saudi Arabia is silica sand and quartz. There are a number of important deposits which are attracting interest (see “Saudi silica scene”, IM December ’08, p.61). Established producers, which have largely focused on supplying the traditional construction and glass markets, are now investing in plant and equipment to produce more sophisticated grades. One of these is Al-Doghom General Contracting Co., at Riyadh.

For 30 years, Al-Doghom General Contracting Co. has been one of the leading suppliers of silica sand to glass plants in Riyadh, Jubail, and Jeddah. Other markets include ready mixed cement, ceramic tiles, and adhesives. The company also exports to Oman, Kuwait, and Abu Dhabi.

Powder development

However, it has only been in the last two years that Al-Doghom has been producing silica powder from its new plant in Riyadh, utilising grinding equipment supplied by Hosokawa Alpine AG, Germany.

The plant uses eight units of grizzly screens (1,500mm x 6,000mm) at three different levels, producing 750 tpd of the coarser 3mm grade, and 750-1,500 tpd of 1mm grade material.

Ariel Julve, plant production manager, at Al-Doghom told IM: “We are now producing various sizes of silica sand, such as: 0.0mm-1mm, 0.0mm-1.5mm, 0.0mm-2mm, 0.0mm-3mm, and our coarser grade is from 0.0mm-4mm. We are also producing selected sizes of silica sand for water treatment and for special applications.

Since silica sand is its major raw material, Al-Doghom has expanded its efforts to produce silica powder which is in demand for special applications such as in paints and adhesives. “We can produce silica powder from 25-180 microns.” said Julve.

The grinding mill is 4,000mm x 2,700mm and can produce 7 tph 98% 100 micron grades and 2 tph 96% 63 micron grades. “Our silica powder product is iron free, because our grinding mill has coated grinding bricks made from 92% alumina, and we use ceramic grinding media also made from 92% alumina. The classifier is the most important machine ever installed in this plant for programming desired sizes.” said Julve.

Changing requirements

At present, like other producers, Al-Doghom is suffering the effects of the economic slowdown, and competition in Saudi Arabia’s silica market is fierce. Julve commented: “At some [consumer] factories they are managing to change their raw material requirements in order to have a lower cost of materials. For some glass plants they are looking for 99.4% SiO2, with lower than 0.03% for Fe2O3. But in my own experience, the average % of silica is in the 98.8-99.00% range. It depends on the location and dip of your quarry.”

Julve is assessing the potential of pursuing other product options including magnesium silicate and silica for sand paper. Above all, he is clearly keen to exploit the industrial mineral wealth of his country. “My view is to keep producing silica sand no matter how many competitors you have at your side. But not only silica sand, but also all kinds of minerals that what we have in Saudi Arabia. The main challenge is to keep producing a good quality product made from minerals not only for Saudi Arabia but also for GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] capitals.” Julve explained.


United Mining Investments Co.

The timing and strategy of one of Saudi Arabia’s newcomers to the minerals sector appears most apposite. United Mining Investments Co. (UMIC) is a Saudi Arabian private company founded in 2004 by a group of “distinguished businessmen and technocrats” to pursue opportunities in the non-oil natural resources sector.

The company’s goal is: “To develop cost-effective import substitutes for its Saudi Arabian customers and to supply customers in neighbouring countries”.

Based in Jeddah, UMIC operates several industrial mineral mining and processing projects, including the mining of limestone and marble. UMIC supplies customers in Saudi Arabia and plans to supply customers in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Italy, and Spain.

Mining Licences have been awarded for feldspar, quartz, and andesite deposits. UMIC plans to commence mining operations in these areas in the near future.

UMIC has identified several added value industrial mineral products required by the market, many of which are currently imported.

The product range that UMIC is planning to supply to the market includes: crushed lime, marble and feldspar; ground calcium carbonate (GCC); precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC); finely ground (micronised) feldspar; and quartz.

 
 Dr Zohair Nawab, president of the Saudi Geological Survey, opens the Workshop – Investment Opportunities in Saudi Industrial Minerals, 9 March 2009, in Jeddah. Courtesy SGS.


Marble – Farasan Project

The Farasan Project is located close to King Abdullah Economic City, about 120km north of Jeddah, some 40km from the Red Sea coast, in Makkah province. The Jeddah-Yanbu Highway is about 20km from the Project.

After preliminary geological studies, which included sampling and laboratory analysis, UMIC successfully applied for several Mining Licences in the area. UMIC is now mining marble from two of its Mining Licence areas.

The marble is selectively mined by conventional open pit methods, using drilling and blasting. The crude ore is processed in a crusher complex to aggregate, to <22mm, at a rate of about 40,000 tpm.

The chief customer of Farasan marble is Rabigh Arabian Water & Electricity Co. (RAWEC) which uses the marble aggregate for flue gas desulphurisation (FGD). The marble is used in the FGD unit at RAWEC’s oil-fired cogeneration and desalination plant at the PetroRabigh Complex, one of the world’s largest integrated petrochemicals complexes, operated by RAWEC on behalf of ARAMCO. The total output of the RAWEC plant, which is about 40km from Farasan, is 600MW and 8,000 tph of desalinated water. RAWEC consumes about 200,000 tpa marble for FGD, although this may increase to 500,000 tpa.

UMIC has a strict quality control system, using a mine site laboratory for daily testing of CaCO3, MgO, and SiO2 content to ensure meeting specifications set by ARAMCO.

One of the challenges for UMIC is to be able to supply a low silica marble to RAWEC, since high silica (eg. >4% SiO2) is found to be too abrasive for the $1m. pumps used at the FGD plant. These would typically last for about four years using a low silica calcium carbonate material, but some high silica grades from Farasan have resulted in a mere six month lifetime for some of the pumps, and both supplier and consumer wish to improve on this. Therefore UMIC is seeking to open up another part of its deposit to exploit lower silica content marble.

Farasan marble aggregate is also used in the production of terrazzo tiles by local tile manufacturers, and laboratory testing of the finer aggregate material indicates that it is suitable for use in paint.

Feldspar Project

UMIC’s Feldspar Project is located in the southern part of Saudi Arabia, about 550km south-east of Jeddah and 200km north-west of Abha, in Asir province. The project area is accessible via the Jeddah-Jizan Highway.

UMIC holds an exploration license that covers an area of about 80km2. Over a period of about two years, UMIC has undertaken extensive and detailed evaluation studies which have concluded that the licence contains a numbers of ore bodies with good potential for commercial exploitation.

The feldspar ore is in the form of pegmatite veins, which were formed from a residual solution of granitic magma that contained large, euhedral feldspar crystals. The pegmatite will be mined by conventional open pit method and then removed and transported to feedstocks for the on-site processing plant.

The mine site facility is able to produce basic crushed feldspar of varying mineralogical characteristics and particle sizes. UMIC will adhere to strict selective mining methods in order to meet the demands of the glass, ceramic, and porcelain industries.

The processing plant includes the separate collection of agglomerates, to minimise the free silica and iron in the material that is processed to produce the finished product. Magnetic pulleys are incorporated in the design, to eradicate metallic iron. Additional magnetic separation will be used in all product streams, to further beneficiate the product. The processing plant crushing units are titanium carbide lined, in order to minimise iron contamination. A comprehensive dust collection system will protect the local and working environments and also ensure mica and fines free products.

 
 Clive Mitchell, BGS, discussing the quality of some core samples at Farasan.


Quartz Projects

UMIC’s Quartz Projects are located in Asir province, in the south-west part of Saudi Arabia, where two hydrothermal quartz deposits are licensed for mining by UMIC. One is about 510km south-east of Jeddah and 360km north-east of Jazan. The second is about 150km from Abha, and 350km from Jazan.

Preliminary exploration work and laboratory in collaboration with the SGS indicated that the deposits are of a hydrothermal origin, of a rip type, with fluids rich in silica. The deposits have significant reserves of quartz with >99% SiO2.

A detailed exploration program, including core drilling, will be undertaken to accurately determine the geometry of the deposits and to confirm the consistency of the quality of the contained quartz. The results of the exploration program will allow the calculation of the minable reserves and to develop a plan for the optimum mining of the deposits.

UMIC is undertaking a feasibility study on the mining and ore processing operations for producing basic crushed quartz. Owing to its high quality, the basic crushed quartz is suitable for further processing. When market demand is confirmed, UMIC will install the additional equipment required for high-density attrition scrubbing of the basic crushed material.

The further processed product is high grade raw SiO2, which can be used for the manufacturing of high value intermediate and final industrial products for high-tech industries such as: high purity (99.99% silica) for producing metallurgical, chemical and electronic grade silicon, polycrystalline quartz for semiconductors (silicon chip), and photovoltaic cells(solar cells).

 
 The crude marble at Farasan is processed in a crusher complex to aggregate, to <22mm, at a rate of about 40,000 tpm. The chief customer of Farasan marble is Rabigh Arabian Water & Electricity Co. (RAWEC) which uses the marble aggregate for flue gas desulphurisation (FGD).


Calcium Carbonate Project

The Calcium Carbonate Project is a planned processing plant, to be located in the Yanbu Industrial City, Madinah province. Yanbu is in the west of Saudi Arabia, on the Red Sea Coast, about 400km north of Jeddah.

The plant will process marble and limestone mined and initially processed by UMIC from several different deposits. Preliminary field exploration work, mapping, sampling and drilling have been undertaken on the deposits. The results were utilised to prepare a feasibility study, which included mine planning, plant design and recommended output products. The plant is aiming to produce ground calcium carbonate (GCC) and precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC).