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Al Jalamid, Umm Wu al, Al Khabra
Saudi Arabia
Main commodities: P

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The Al-Jalamid, Umm Wu'al and Al Khabra phosphorite phosphate deposits are located ~130, ~225 and 230 km NW to WNW of the city of Ar'ar respectively, in the Northern Borders Province of Saudi Arabia, within the Sirhan-Turayf region which extends into Jordan, southwestern Iraq and Syria.
(#Location: Al-Jalamid - 31° 29' 57"N, 39° 55' 16"E); (#Location: Umm Wu'al - 31° 47' 27"N, 38° 54' 4"E);
(#Location: Al Khabra - 31° 58' 22"N, 38° 58' 44"E)

  Sedimentary phosphorite was first outlined in commercial quantities in the Sirhan-Turayf Basin in 1965, within the northwestern corner of Saudi Arabia. This basin covers an area of >100 000 km2. At least six phosphorite localities have been recognised within this basin, namely the Al-Jalamid, Umm Wu'al, Thaniyat Turayf, Al-Amud, Al-Quraymiz and Al-Sanam areas. These deposits are part of the Upper Cretaceous to Lower Tertiary string of deposits that extend from Mauritania and Morroco in the west, to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iraq in the east, and constitute the Middle East-North Africa phosphate belt (e.g. Klemme, 1958; Sheldon, 1981).

Geological Setting

  These deposits are hosted within the Paleocene to mid-Eocene Turayf Group which includes a phosphorite package that is several hundred metres thick, and is part of a predominantly carbonate-chert succession deposited on a marine-shelf overlying the Neoproterozoic Arabian Shield. The Sirhan-Turayf shelf/basin is flanked to the NE and SE by Cretaceous beds, and to the southwest by Devonian sequences, and extends into Jordan and Iraq to the northwest and north. Major faults follow a NW structural trend, forming the large Sirhan Graben and the smaller Umm Wu'al Graben within this shelf, both of which are filled by Miocene strata that do not contain phosphorites. Extensive, thick, late Tertiary and Quaternary basaltic lava flows of the Harrat volcanic field occupy much of the centre of the Sirhan-Turayf basin/shelf, burying the underlying phosphorite of the Turayf Group and precluding their exploitation.

  The Turayf Group comprises the following three main formations, each of which has a phosphorite member at its base, namely the:
Paleocene Jalamid Formation, the basal phosphorite of which is the up to 40 m thick Thaniyat Member, the lowermost significant phosphate horizon within the Sirhan-Turayf basin, which is most likely of Paleocene (Danian) age. This member is exposed to the SW, around the Thaniyat escarpment. It's contact with the underlying Upper Cretaceous sandstone is generally sharp, although locally, there is a transition via interbedded hard to semi-friable phosphatic sandstone, calcareous to partially silicified phosphate rock containing shell, bone fragments and shark teeth and slightly fissile, shaly, and porous micrites (Riddler et al., 1989). As many as seven phosphate rock beds have been recognised in the Thaniyat Member, ranging from 0.1 to 4.5 m in thickness. Two phosphatic chert beds and a hard to semi-friable calcareous phosphorite mark the top of the member. Outcrops of the Thaniyat Phosphorite Member have been traced for ~100 km to the SW in the Sirhan-Turayf region, whilst phosphate rocks of the Jalamid Formation are not exposed to the east and north until close to the Al-Jalamid phosphate mine site, where sub-cropping calcareous, semi-friable and friable phosphate rock can be seen overlying the Upper Cretaceous Aruma Formation.
Lower Eocene Mira Formation, with a basal phosphorite known as the Ghinnah Member which conformably overlies the upper Jalamid Formation. This formation can be traced in outcrop from the southwestern Thaniyat area, and then north and east to the Iraqi border. The Ghinnah Member varies from 5 up to ~27 m in thickness, and is best exposed on both sides of the Wadi al Ghinnah in the west-central part of the Sirhan-Turayf region. The phosphorite of the member is composed of interbedded micrites, claystones and chert with up to four beds of hard calcareous semi-friable phosphatic rocks ranging from 20 to 80 cm in thickness. The uppermost phosphate bed is slightly sandy and conglomeritic with coarse, poorly sorted phosphate pellets. The Ghinnah phosphorite Member is not considered to be economic due its generally low grade and the limited thickness of the phosphate beds. It is overlain by the 10 to 80 m thick Hawsa Member, composed of recrystallised sparry micrite and chert, and sometimes fissile claystones. The succeeding Mindassah Member is interbedded with, and/or commonly overlies the Hawsa Member and is up to 49 m thick. It is composed of a nummulitic biomcrite containing up to 10 mm diameter Lower Eocene nummulites (Riddler et al., 1989). The uppermost unit of the Mira Formation is the 80 to 165 m thick Sib Member, which is composed of a sequence of coarsely crystalline limestone to bioclastic limestone and chert. It contains three phosphatic beds ranging from calcareous to siliceous in character, and represents the lowermost exploitable phosphate zone in the Umm Wu'al deposit.
Mid to Upper Eocene Umm Wu'al Formation, and it's basal Arqah Phosphorite Member. The Umm Wu'al Formation is the uppermost phosphorite-bearing formation of the Turayf Group, and can be mapped south from Umm Wu'al near the Jordanian border, through inliers, to the southern edge of the Al Harrah flood basalts. To the SW, across the Sirhan graben, the Umm Wu'al Formation is represented by the Lutetian age phosphatic black shales known as the Hidrij Member. The basal Arqah Phosphorite Member, which unconformably overlies the Sib Member of the Mira Formation, represents the most significant phosphate development within the Umm Wu'al Formation. It is generally poorly exposed, ranging from 2 to 27 m in thickness, and is of Middle Eocene age (Riddler et al., 1989). The top of the Arqah Member is composed of variably silicified, phosphatic, bedded limestones and cherts, that are underlain by upward fining carbonate-cemented and semi-friable phosphorite beds varying from 0.1 to 8.5 m in thickness with some barren chert and limestone interbeds. The Arqah Member is overlain by the 5 to 32 m thick Al Amud Member, that is composed of various lithologic facies. In the north, it comprises an extensive bank of finely fragmented bivalve debris that is recrystallised, calcified, and phosphatic towards the base. In the south, the same member is dominated by porous, thinly-bedded argillaceous limestone known as the Rushayda Claystone Bed containing lenses and beds of chert and thin interbeds of pelletal phosphorite. The Al Amud Member is conformably overlain by the 20 to 80 m thick Hamad Member, composed of well-bedded, finely crystalline limestone and thin, discontinuous, beds of chert. This latter member becomes leached and its basal section become somewhat more phosphatic towards the top of the Al Amud Member. However, its economic potential is diminished by its low grade. To the west of the Umm Wu'al Graben, two members represent the upper part of the Umm Wu'al Formation, the 2 to 11 m thick Tarbah and 11 to 75 m thick Shiihiyah Members, which are mainly composed of bioclastic limestone and well-bedded finely crystalline limestone (Riddler et al., 1989). The Umm Wu'al Formation is capped by white chalky limestone beds, the ~6 m thick Jirani Member.


  The Al-Jalamid deposit is located in the northern Sirhan-Turayf Basin, ~25 km north along the Trans-Arabian pipeline from the Al-Jalamid township, on an elevated featureless plateau, ~800 m above sea level. It is close to the Iraqi border, and ~130 NW Ar'ar, the capital of Northern Borders Province of Saudi Arabia. The phosphorite deposits occur within the Upper Cretaceous to Lower Paleocene Thaniyat Phosphorite Member at base of the Jalamid Formation (El-Naggar et al., 1982; Riddler et al., 1989). The Jalamid Formation ranges in thickness from 45 to 120 m, thickening toward the northwest from the Thaniyat escarpment toward Wadi Al-Ghinnah. The Jalamid Formation apparently extends northward and eastward in the central escarpment area to where it is covered by the Harrat basalt flows of Al-Harrah. The total cumulative thickness of phosphorite beds within the Thaniyat phosphorite Member ranges from 3 to 5 m, sometimes comprising up to seven discrete beds (Riddler et al., 1989; Khater et al., 2016). At Al-Jalamid, the Thaniyat Phosphorite Member changes laterally to the west and east into a more cherty bioclastic limestone facies that is poorly- or non-phosphatic. It dips gently to the west, becomes more shaly down-dip and comprises two, extensive, friable, semi-friable to hard carbonate-cemented phosphorite beds. These beds are enclosed in micritic, bioclastic limestones, which become dolomitic towards the base. A weakly lateritised, basal contact with the Ar'ar chalk has been observed in drill core (Riddler et al., 1986). To the east, erosional remnants of silicified algal domes are found above plunging anticlines, overlying an up to 5 m thick unit containing strong accumulations of well-packed, sorted, friable and semi-friable phosphorite.

  The phosphorite beds at Al-Jalamid range from friable, sandy calcareous, to hard phosphorite varieties, locally separated by thin bands of chert or shale. Thaniyat Phosphorite Member comprises two main phosphorite horizons, separated by lesser intercalations of low-grade phosphatic cherty and dolomitic limestone layers that are up to 5 m thick. They are the:
i).  Lower Phosphorite Zone - 3 to 4 m thick, mainly calcareous, i.e., dolomitic, compact to friable sand-sized high-grade white phosphorite beds. The LPZ is commonly bioclastic fragment-rich, occurring as bone fragments and fish teeth, which are evident in the hand specimens.
ii). Upper Phosphorite Zone, which is 4 to 7 m thick, and also calcareous, composed of compact to friable phosphorite beds. These phosphorite layers are mainly high-grade semi-friable sand-sized phosphorite, with lenses of sparry calcite and argillaceous cement, which is vuggy and strongly bioturbated, with an average thickness of about 6 m. The sparry calcite is readily recognized in the hand specimens of the sandy white phosphorite. The Upper Phosphorite Zone is covered by overburden of sand, clay and limestone with an average thickness of 12 m. Between the Lower and Upper Phosphorite zones at Al-Jalamid, there is an intermediate horizon of low-grade, compact phosphatic to dolomitic limestone with quartz geodes and chert nodules, which ranges from 0.5 to 5 m thickness.
  The resource at Al-Jalamid covers an area of ~50 km
2. Mining commenced at Al-Jalamid in 2009, and involves the movement of 36 Mt of overburden and phosphate ore per annum.
  The Al-Jalamid phosphate mine (as of 2023) is operated by the Ma'aden Phosphate Company, owned by Ma'aden Mining Company (70%) and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (30%). Ma’aden’s phosphate mine produces close to 11.6 million tonnes of ore per annum, while the on site Beneficiation Plant produces up to 5 million tonnes of phosphate rock concentrate per year. These phosphate rock concentrates from Al Jalamid is transported 1200 km by rail to Ras Al Khair Industrial City in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, where Ma'aden’s Integrated Fertilizer Production Complex is located,

Umm Wu'al

  The Umm Wu'al deposit and surrounds covers Mount Umm Wu'al, which ranges from ~700 to >900 m above sea level. The nearest town is the Turayf, located close to the border with Jordan in the Northern Borders Province of Saudi Arabia. Umm Wu'al is the second largest major phosphate resource in Saudi Arabia, after Al-Jalamid. It is divided into Umm Wu'al East and Umm Wu'al West, separated by the NNW-SSE trending Umm Wu'al graben. The phosphorite beds in the area belong to the Upper Eocene upper member of the Umm Wu'al Formation, where the phosphorite-bearing sequence ranges from 2, up to 27 m in thickness, averaging ~4 m.

  The Umm Wu'al deposit area overlaps portions of two main sedimentary basins, the Wadi As Sirhan Basin to the west and the margin of the Widyan Basin to the east. The two basins are separated by a major NNW trending anticline, whose axis is known as the Ha'il Arch. The area is also crosscut by a set of NW-SE trending faults, the best developed of which is the Umm Wu'al normal Fault.

  The phosphate-bearing rocks in the Umm Wu'al area belong to the Middle Eocene Arqah Phosphorite Member of the Umm Wu'al Formation, and are mainly composed of finely crystalline limestone, bioclastic limestone, chert and pelletal phosphorites. There are four phosphorite beds, intercalated with chert in the Umm Wu'al area, referred to, from top to bottom as, PH1, PH2, PH3 and PH4. PH1 has mostly been eroded, leaving PH2 as the upper exposed layer. It comprises calcareous to argillaceous phosphorite with a maximum thickness of ~ 5 m, overlain by a thick overburden of argillaceous limestone. The PH3 phosphorite layer is a fine-grained, friable to semi-friable, chert-rich, argillaceous to calcareous phosphorite that may be up to 4 m thick, with thin layers to elongated nodules of chert occasionally interbedded within the argillaceous to calcareous phosphorite. The PH4 phosphorite layer is separated from PH3 by thin layers of shales and chert.

Al Khabra

  The Al Khabra deposit is limited by the Ha'il Arch Complex to the east, Wadi Sirhan, Quraymiz area in the south and the Iraqi and Jordanian borders to the north and west. It represents the northern section of the greater Umm Wu'al district, and is located 45 km NE from Turaif, within a few kilometres of the Jordanian border with Saudi Arabia. Mineralisation is hosted in the Arqah Phosphorite Member which is repeatedly exposed by a set of NW trending faults. The Member varies in thickness from 1.3 to 5.6 m, averaging 3.09 m. The phosphate layers comprise an original succession of carbonate cemented sub-cycles, now represented by friable, semi-friable and residual carbonate-cemented phosphorite, with ubiquitous graded bedding. The latter is apparent as pelletal grain size decreasing upward in successive sub-cycles, punctuated by occasional barren limestone and chert interbeds.

  As of 2023, the Ma'aden Mining Company owned 60% of the Al Khabra Mine and Umm Wu'al mining lease B6, and 100% of Umm Wu'al mining leases B4-5, B 10-11 and the Umm Wu'al Exploration License. The mining leases were in Pre-feasiblity Stage. The Al Khabra Mine is 100% owned and operated by Ma'aden Wa'ad Al Shamal Phosphate Company, which is, in turn, owned by Ma'aden Mining Company (60%), The Mosaic Company (25%) and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (15%). Al Khabra is an open pit mine producing 12 Mt of phosphate ore per year. Production commenced in 2017. Ore is treated at the Ma'aden’s Wa'ad Al Shamal Fertilizer Production Complex, located in Wa'ad Al Shamal Minerals Industrial City, in the Northern Province of Saudi Arabia. The Complex includes seven major plants and associated facilities, including Beneficiation, Phosphoric Acid, Sulfuric Acid, Di-Ammonium Phosphate and Granulation plants. The complex produce 3 Mt of fertilizer products per annum.

Reserves and Resources

Ahmed et al. (2022) quote the following Reserves and Resources after Collenette and Grainger (1994).
  Al-Jalamid 'Measured Reserve' - 213 Mt @ 21% P
        Indicated Resource - 187 Mt @ 19.7% P
  Umm Wu'al 'Total Resource' - 537 Mt @ 19.35% P

Ma'aden Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve Reports, 2020 quote the following JORC Compliant Ore Reserves and Mineral Resources as at 31 December 2020.
  Al-Jalamid Mining Lease
    Measured Resource - 291.1 Mt @ 19.2% P
2O5, 3.8% MgO;
    Indicated Resource - 72.8 Mt @ 19.2% P
2O5, 4.8% MgO;
    Inferred Resource - 9.1 Mt @ 17.3% P
2O5, 5.5% MgO;
  Al-Jalamid Exploration License
    Inferred Resource - 703.0 Mt @ 18.4% P
2O5, 6.1% MgO.

  Umm Wu'al Mining Lease B6
    Indicated Resource - 473.0 Mt @ 16.7% P
2O5, 2.2 SiO2;
  Umm Wu'al Mining Lease B4-5
    Measured Resource - 177.1 Mt @ 16.9% P
2O5, 2.2% SiO2;
    Indicated Resource - 150.4 Mt @ 16.8% P
2O5, 2.6% SiO2;
    Inferred Resource - 96.1 Mt @ 16.3% P
2O5, 3.6% SiO2;
  Umm Wu'al Mining Lease B10-11
    Measured Resource - 29.3.1 Mt @ 20.4% P
2O5, 8.0% SiO2;
    Indicated Resource - 4.1 Mt @ 19.3% P
2O5, 8.7% SiO2;
    Inferred Resource - 264.4 Mt @ 18.4% P
2O5, 9.3% SiO2;
  Umm Wu'al Exploration License
    Inferred Resource - 242.7 Mt @ 16.9% P
  Al Khabra Mining Lease
    Measured Resource - 300.2 Mt @ 16.7% P
2O5, 9.9% SiO2;
    Indicated Resource - 107.2 Mt @ 15.5% P
2O5, 10.1% SiO2;
    Inferred Resource - 6.5 Mt @ 17.6% P
2O5, 18.2% SiO2;
TOTAL Al-Jalamid + Umm Wu'al + Al Khabra
    Measured + Indicated + Inferred Mineral Resource - 2963 Mt @ 17.6 % P
2O5 for 521.6 Mt of P2O5.
TOTAL Al-Jalamid + Umm Wu'al + Al Khabra
    Proved + Probable Ore Reserve - 1378 Mt @ 16.8 % P2O5 for 230.9 Mt of P2O5.
NOTE: Mineral Resources are inclusive of Ore Reserves.

This summary is largely drawn from Ahmed et al. (2022) cited below.

The most recent source geological information used to prepare this decription was dated: 2022.    
This description is a summary from published sources, the chief of which are listed below.
© Copyright Porter GeoConsultancy Pty Ltd.   Unauthorised copying, reproduction, storage or dissemination prohibited.


Umm Wu al

Al Khabra

  References & Additional Information
   Selected References:
Ahmed, A.H., Aseri, A.A. and Ali, K.A.,  2022 - Geological and geochemical evaluation of phosphorite deposits in northwestern Saudi Arabia as a possible source of trace and rare-earth elements: in    Ore Geology Reviews   v.144, 28p. doi.org/10.1016/j.oregeorev.2022.104854.
Al-Hobaib, A.S., Baioumy, H.M. and Al-Ateeq, M.A.,  2013 - Geochemistry and origin of the Paleocene phosphorites from the Hazm Al-Jalamid area, northern Saudi Arabia: in    J. of Geochemical Exploration   v.132, pp. 15-25

Porter GeoConsultancy Pty Ltd (PorterGeo) provides access to this database at no charge.   It is largely based on scientific papers and reports in the public domain, and was current when the sources consulted were published.   While PorterGeo endeavour to ensure the information was accurate at the time of compilation and subsequent updating, PorterGeo, its employees and servants:   i). do not warrant, or make any representation regarding the use, or results of the use of the information contained herein as to its correctness, accuracy, currency, or otherwise; and   ii). expressly disclaim all liability or responsibility to any person using the information or conclusions contained herein.

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