The gold project is located approximately 450 km southwest of Riyadh and roughly the same distance north east of Jeddah. The location that has presented some major challenges for MGBM, for example the sourcing water required the construction of a 500 km pipeline to carry water from the nearest municipality.
Mining is by open pit methods, and the operation includes a conventional gold extraction process plant with crushing and milling facilities, gravity concentration and smelting facilities to produce gold doré on site.
For the first time MGBM has opted to engage the services of an outsourced minerals processing company to operate and maintain the plant as well as upskill the local staff. Although the concept of operations outsourcing is new to the mining industry in Saudi Arabia, it has become a well-established practice in southern Africa and Australia as the reduction in operating costs can be significant.
DRA’s operations division in Southern Africa, Minopex, has been operating and maintaining plants since 1996. Ma’aden visited several Minopex operated plants in South Africa to gain a better understanding of the concept and to gain comfort in the outsourced approach.
“The award of this contract is a major step forward for DRA in Saudi Arabia”, comments Rashid Kader, a Minopex veteran of 15 years who has been appointed MD of the newly formed DRA Saudi Arabia LLC. “Our office in Saudi Arabia will be based in Jeddah – over and above being able to service MGBM at the Ad Duwayhi mine, this new entity also gives us a crucial foothold in a region rich in minerals.”
“Right now, we’re in the process of deploying a highly experienced team of DRA specialists to Saudi Arabia. Their responsibilities will include pre-commissioning the plant and establishing the operations team on site. The operations team will be responsible for process engineering, specialist maintenance, asset management safety and training”.
“Adapting to harsh conditions and challenging environments to meet our clients’ objectives is one of our great strengths at DRA”, says Kader. “We’ve been doing it successfully in different parts of the world since our inception over 30 years ago.”