Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (Ma’aden) announced at year-end 2015 that Ma’aden Barrick Copper Co. (MBCC) has begun producing copper concentrate at its Jabal Sayid underground mine in Saudi Arabia. The mine is scheduled to reach commercial production before the end of March.

Production will be in the range of 45,000 to 60,000 metric tons per year (mt/y) of copper in concentrates.

MBCC is a 50:50 joint venture company formed by Ma’aden and Barrick Gold in 2014. Ma’aden acquired its 50% interest from Barrick for $210 million in cash.

The Jabal Sayid mine will operate for up to 15 years. As of year-end 2013, it had 1.4 billion lb of copper in proven and probable reserves. The joint venture will carry out further exploration work within the mining license area and in exploration license areas surrounding the mine, with the goal of extending the mine life.

According to a 2009 technical report prepared by Citadel Resource Group—which was later acquired by Equinox Minerals, before that company was in turn acquired by Barrick in 2011 for $7.6 billion—Jabal Sayid is a proximal VMS (Volcanogenic Massive Sulphide) system, similar to deposits discovered at the Avoca (Ireland) and Mount Lyell mines (Tasmania). It ranks in the upper 5% of known VMS deposits worldwide, for resources exceeding 200,000 mt. Four separate mineralized lodes have been identified, confined within a northeastern, 200- to 700-m-wide corridor and traced over a 1.2-km length. Base and precious metal mineralization is hosted by felsic volcanic rocks, which are in turn crosscut by hypabyssal intrusions, associated with a local paleovolcanic centre. Structural analysis suggests that these lodes are restricted to the western flank of a southwest plunging anticline.

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