Thursday, April 24, 2014

MENA Mining (xii): Jordan


MENA Mining (xii): Jordan

As most of the countries in the region, Jordan benefits of it geologic structure, and the government understands the importance of minerals to economic and social well-being. In 2008 there were 75 active mining agreements with local and international companies that contributed 10% to the Kingdom’s GDP and 20% of its exports in 2007. 


Jordan has deposits of copper, gold, iron, sulfur, titanium, bromine and manganese (in the Dead Sea).
Jordan's leading industry and export commodity is phosphate, ranking as one of the top in world output. Other are potash, fertilizers (made from phosphate rock and potash), cement production. Jordan also produces common clay, feldspar, natural gas and petroleum (for domestic consumption), gravel, gypsum, kaolin, lime, limestone, marble, crushed rock, salt, silica sand, steel, dimension stone, sulfuric acid, and zeolite tuff.


“There are quantities of Uranium oxide U3O8 ores with a reasonable concentration in Central Jordan. These ores can be exploited, where one part can be used to produce nuclear fuel for the nuclear reactors, while the rest can be exported to support the economy of Jordan. The utilization of these ores is in agreement with the principle of securing additional local energy resources” – this is statement from the Jordan Energy Resources Inc.  (JERI) websitewhich further explains the nuclear energy strategy of the Kingdom. Location of uranium deposits is represented on the following graph:

Source: Jordan’s Nuclear Programme Kamal J. Araj Jordan Atomic Energy Commission

According to some estimates, that there are about 65,000 tons of uranium reserves in central Jordan, in addition to other amounts in different areas; with expected rate of production of about 2,000 tons per annum. Limited part of it will be used in Jordan’s nuclear reactors, while the rest will be exported. There is also a potential to convert 140,000 Mt of uranium from the country's phosphates reserves (that was confirmed in 2009 by the feasibility study by SNC-Lavalin Group  of Canada). 
Al Hassa area - 250 km south of the capital – according to Jordan Energy Resources Inc.  (JERI),  exploration indicates the region may yield 15,000 tons of uranium at an average concentration of 160 parts per million (ppm), a level believed to be economically feasible for mining purposes. 

Uranium prospecting/exploration is being performed by:
·                  Jordanian-French Uranium Mining Company (JFUMC), a joint venture between JAEC and Areva (since October 2008), -- in Central Jordan: in Sqawa; Khan Azzabib, Wadi Maghar and Attarat areas. Mining of the combined estimated reserve of 64,880t is envisaged to start in 2012 at a rate of 2000tpa.
·                  China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC): at Hamra-Hausha in the North and Wadi Baheyya in the South.
·                  Rio Tinto: In April 2011 it was announced that Rio Tinto brought to an end to over a year of exploration in the Wadi Sahra Abyad area in the Southern Badia after deeming uranium deposits in the region as commercially unviable.
·                  Gippsland Ltd.: was performing some activities, but last June it was announced that the company “has withdrawn from discussions with the Jordanian Government regarding exploration opportunities in Jordan.”
·                  Alliance Resources Ltd:  was performing some activities, but last June it was announced that the company “has withdrawn from discussions with the Jordanian Government regarding exploration opportunities in Jordan.”

Copper deposits between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba remained undeveloped. Other potential for progress lay in the availability of bromine, dolomite, glass sands, iron, lead, oil shale, tin, travertine. 

Gold as a prospect has been discovered in the northern parts of the Arabo-Nubian Shield in Southern Jordan. It is located 90 km North-Northeast of Aqaba. The prospect lies 4 km East of Amman Safi Aqaba highway in Wadi Araba. The best occurrence retains gold values of up to 40 g/t.

Iron ores  occur in Jordan only in limited amounts, and the major deposits are the Warda Deposit, Ajloun (East of the Dead Sea); Amman (Abdoun), Jil’aad (30 km North-West of Amman) and Berain (10 km North of Amman). Even though the occurrence of the ore is limited, surface mining is still in progress. The ore is used in the cement industry for correction purposes and as construction material in the tile production

Some useful links:
·                   Mining Sector in Jordan, ArabJordan Investment Bank
·                  The Mineral Industry of Jordan, USGS 2011
·                  Jordan Phosphate Mines Co. (JOPH) corporate brief

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