In any country, mineral wealth is one of the most important resources that form the basis upon which economic and social development depends. It is considered the most important to the national economy due to its effective contribution in employing local labor and catering to the local market demands for raw materials, intermediate products and finished products. In addition it supplies the national income with hard currency.
Jordan is considered rich in mineral resources as a result of the outstanding variety of its geology. This is represented by having Jordan covered by a variety of rock formations ranging in age from Pre-Cambrian to Cenozoic Era. This geological variety has led to the discovery of many mineral resources, such as the Aqaba Complex of Paleozoic Era which was found in the area located between Aqaba and south of the Dead Sea. Granitic rocks are the dominated type in the area, which are the source of ornamental stones, feldspar and some rare elements. The Paleozoic rocks are deposited in a continental sand depositional environment with a thickness up to about 1300m intercalated with shallow marine sediments. These rocks bear deposits of iron, copper, manganese, silica sand and some radioactive minerals. The Mesozoic Era rocks, on the other hand, are sedimentary deposited in a marine and continental depositional environment, where clay minerals sediments, phosphates, gypsum, bituminous limestone and various industrial rocks are concentrated. The limestone and Marlstone rocks of the Cenozoic Era limestone cover the eastern regions of Jordan, while layers of limestone, clay, conglomerate, and travertine cover the depressions of the Jordan Valley, Dead Sea basin, Azraq basin and Wadi Al Sarhan. The Cenozoic Era rocks are of great economic value as they contain mineral salts (as in Azraq and the Dead Sea) as well as natural aggregates and travertine.Mineral Resources are classified into metallic minerals, nonmetallic minerals and minerals used as sources for the production of energy.
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The exploitation of mineral resources in Jordan varies to some degrees. Some of these resources are exploited on a large scale, such as phosphate, potash, gypsum and building materials. Others are exploited on a limited scale, such as silica sand, kaolin, basalt and pure limestone, etc. The exploitation of these minerals is considered the main base for the mining sector in Jordan. There are promising mineral resources available in significant quantities and high qualities which are in the process of being exploited, such as oil shale, copper, gold and others.
Jordanian Mining Sector and its Importance
The mining sector is one of the vital sectors that play an active role to accelerate the growth and the development of the national economy. Despite the fluctuation in its contribution rates during different periods of time, its role is still a significant factor that constitutes one of the most important tributary of the national economy. This is due in part to its impact on the local development of mineral resources as well as on human resources. Therefore, there should be significant efforts to raise the mining sector status and develop it further. We should follow and adhere to the efforts of His Majesty King Abdullah II, who has been keen to presenting, to the world, investment opportunities in all sectors in the Kingdom, including the mining sector. This resulted in the signing of several agreements regarding the exploitation of mineral resources such as oil shale, potash, phosphate and others.
Mining and the investment in the processing of minerals in Jordan, is mainly of the non-metallic minerals (industrial rocks) - In particular phosphate, potash, limestone, pure limestone, glass sand, kaolin, Zeolitic Tuff, gypsum and Paozzolanic Tuff. Many of these raw materials are used in the manufacturing of ordinary and white cement.
As this sector is based mainly on the exploitation of local raw materials, the mining sector has been segmented into two main industrial mining groups:
Extraction Mineral Industries, namely:
- Phosphate industry
- Potash industry
- Salt industry
- Carbonates industry
- Quarry and mine products, which include: building stone, natural sand, aggregates, marble, granite and silica sand.
Mining manufacturing Industries, with two branches:
Chemical Industries, which comprises of:
- Fertilizer industry
- Chemical acids industry
- Quicklime and hydrated industry
Construction industries, which comprises of:
- Cement industry
- White cement industry
- Rock wool industry
- Ceramics (Chinese tile and sanitary ware)
- Building Materials Industry
The Extraction mineral industries dominate the larger volume of revenue of the Jordanian mining sector due to the fact that some raw materials such as phosphate and potash are the most common in Jordan. Thus, the government has given sponsorship to invest in and utilize them with the optimum utilization factor because of their great economic benefit over the others. This is significant, especially if we take into consideration that the raw mineral is going to be exhausted, both locally and internationally. Many industrial countries of the world have become dependent on the import from abroad of such raw materials which, after their depletion, will result in increased prices for their products.
In terms of the contribution of the Jordanian mining sector in GDP, the total revenue of the Jordanian mining sector amounted to 1930 million Jordanian dinar in 2013, which accounted for 8% of GDP. Shares of the contributions to this revenue were as follows: the extraction mineral industries, 67.7% while the manufacturing mineral industries, 32.3%. The exports of the mining sector, both extracted and manufactured mineral products amounted to 1428 million Jordanian dinar, representing 29.7% of the total national exports.
Thus, it is clear that the mining sector in Jordan is a fundamental pillar that supports and supplements the GDP. Hence it should be supported and developed through marketing of its local ores of large reserve internationally as well as locally. Local ores should replace imported raw materials in local mineral manufacturing and industries after making the necessary concentration enrichment operations. Moreover, work needs to be done to increase the volume of investments by attracting Arab and foreign cash capitals to establish mining or industrial projects. This would be done after preparing the necessary economic studies, such as pre-feasibility and feasibility studies to ensure the success of the projects
The following figure shows the percentage of contribution of the most important mineral industries’ products in the revenues of the mining sector during the year 2013
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