(MENAFN - Arab News) Najran celebrated the opening of the Al-Masane mine on Tuesday in the presence Prince Mishal bin Abdullah, governor of the Najran province.
The mine, which was closed for decades due to a drop in mineral prices globally, has exported 8,000 tons of zinc to South Korea and 6,000 tons of copper to India through Jazan port this week alone.
Al-Masane is the first mine in the Kingdom to export copper and zinc. The mine began test operations six months ago. It started full operations this week.
The mine's reserves are estimated at 4.9 million tons of zinc and copper, according to the Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC). In addition to the main reserve of copper and zinc, the mine's ores contain 97g of gold and 31g of silver per ton.
Talal Al-Sha'er, chairman of Al-Masane Al-Kobra mining (AMAK), said the company will start building a SR1.5 billion smelting factory about a year from now. The mine is now producing 35,000 tons of copper and 45,000 tons of zinc annually, said Al-Sha'er.
Observers said that having such a factory would help the country stop importing copper and reduce its prices.
The company built a crude material treatment plant and started operation in the third quarter of 2011. The plant is operated by a Chinese company.
AMAK is an alliance of eight companies and factories that were formed in 2006 to start work in the abandoned mine and it is the first private sector mining company.
It was Hatem El-Khalidi, president of the Arabian Shield Development Company, who discovered the mine in 1967 during aerial and surface reconnaissance.
The investors are Arabian American Development Company (AADC), which was known before as the Arabian Shield Development Company (ASDC), Durat Almasana Est., Al Shairco Trade Industrial & Constructions, Qaser Al Ma'aden Est., Ibrahim bin Ali bin Hussein Mussalam, Majid bin Ali bin Hussein Mussalam, Thamarat Najran Company Limited and the Saudi Est.
AMAK promised to help the poor in the border city of Najran. The company has already trained 100 students and sent them on scholarships to study mining in order to employ them.