Mining study deal stresses on environmental concerns

MD Rasooldeen | Arab News Staff

Published — Sunday 6 January 2013

Last update 6 January 2013 10:04 am

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RIYADH: King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and the Saudi Arabian Mining Company, Maaden, signed an agreement in Riyadh yesterday to conduct environmental studies and to form research teams for the transfer of technological information.
The accord was inked between the President of KACST Mohammed Al-Suwaiyel and Maaden President and Chief Executive Officer Khalid S. Al-Mudaifer, in the presence of KACST’s Vice President for Research and Development, Turki bin Saud bin Mohammad Al-Saud at the KACST headquarters. 
Under the agreement, KACST will address the environmental concerns in Maaden’s mining and processing sites, and suggest means to improve safety procedures. The agreement will also explore means of developing human resources to provide specialized technical assistance for the mining factory workers. 
Speaking after the signing ceremony, Al-Suwaiyel said the agreement would serve for five years and aims to achieve a constructive form of cooperation for both parties that serves the best interests of the public.
He added that under this agreement KACST would support, encourage and implement scientific research in metal mining in Maaden, which would eventually contribute to the development of the mining and mineral industries in the Kingdom.
Al-Suwaiyel explained that KACST will form research teams specialized in technical areas of mutual interests to share expertise and technology transfers to the Kingdom in the mining and mineral industries.  
Other environmental concerns such as safety procedures and the evaluation of radiation safety, as well as strengthening human resources, and participating in international conferences, seminars and global gatherings, will also be established within the agreement. 
Al-Mudaifer said that the agreement meets the environmental needs of the company with regards to improving the working conditions and environmental conservation.  “We have prioritized scientific research as a criteria for future development,” he added. 
The agreement will also ensure the safety of all employees, their families and the surrounding vicinity of the company. 
As a national company, he said, Maaden aims to improve its projects to ensure sustainable development, which would ultimately benefit the nation and its citizens. 
Maaden was formed by a royal decree in 1997 to facilitate the development of Saudi Arabia’s mineral resources and was originally wholly owned by the Saudi Government before 50 percent of its shares were floated on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) in 2008.
Initially Maaden’s activities focused on expanding its active gold business, which now includes five mines and over 11 million ounces of Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC)-compliant gold resources at operational and exploration sites. 
Maaden has also developed its activities beyond gold with the development of Maaden’s Phosphate Company, which started production in 2011. In addition Maaden has a number of projects in the pipeline including an aluminum company, which is currently under construction. 
Maaden’s exploration teams are working on expanding available resources in existing business areas, as well as broadening the company’s mineral portfolio.
According to Al-Mudaifer, Maaden projects and exploration programs are building value for its shareholders and proving the wisdom of the Saudi government’s actions in prioritizing the development of the Kingdom’s mining and minerals industries. 
“Our gold business now has five active operations and over 11 million ounces of gold resources. Maaden Phosphate Company is exporting Saudi made diammonium phosphate and our aluminum project is currently under construction. In addition, we have several projects in the process of construction, including a mine, refinery, smelter and rolling mill. We have more than doubled the number of our employees over the last two and a half years, begun a new stream of export revenue and continue to develop operations in regions across Saudi Arabia.”
Furthermore, he said: “We are building this progress on genuinely sustainable foundations. Maaden works diligently to ensure that its projects are developed and executed to the highest international standards, especially in terms of safety and environmental stewardship. We also work hard to develop our human resources and bring on new talents in our fields, ensuring that future generations are given every opportunity to benefit from employment in our industry.”  

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