Royal Road Minerals and MSB Holdings have attained the status of Preferred Bidder in a rigorous Licensing Round for the Jabal Sahabiyah Exploration License situated in the Asir Province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources (MIMR) announced the Licensing Round in early 2023, culminating in a site visit and proposal submissions by August of the same year. Proposals were evaluated based on merit, requiring the Preferred Bidder to showcase qualified management and technical personnel, access to ample resources, high-level performance, and a dedication to sustainability principles. Assessment criteria encompassed elements like the proposed exploration work program, exploration expenditure, technical expertise, and a comprehensive social impact management plan.

The Jabal Sahabiyah Exploration License is set to be granted to Royal Road Arabia (RRA), the 50-50 joint venture between Royal Road and MSB. This is contingent upon the payment of a performance financial guarantee (to be agreed upon with MIMR) and the fulfilment of specific legal and regulatory prerequisites. The license will have an initial term of five years, with the option to renew every additional five years, totalling 15 years.

RRA has committed to a minimum expenditure of $5.5m over the first five years, with expenditure being success-dependent, subject to the surrender of the performance guarantee.

The Jabal Sahabiyah Exploration License spans approximately 284km2 and was uncovered through regional mapping conducted by Riofinex in the late 1970s. Situated in the highly promising Nabitah-Tathlith belt, the prospect features copper-zinc-lead mineralised gossans and vein-gold occurrences within greenschist and amphibolite facies meta-sedimentary and granitoid rocks.

Riofinex drilled twenty shallow percussion holes (totalling 617.5m) into one of the gossan occurrences, with notable findings in drillhole JM4: 14m at 0.6% Copper and 5.1% Zinc from the surface, and drillhole JM3: 6.5m @ 0.9% Copper and 0.6% Zinc from the surface.

Royal Road president and CEO Dr Tim Coughlin said: “We are grateful to the MIMR for granting us this opportunity at Jabal Sahabiyah and we are eager to get started. Over forty years have lapsed since exploration work was conducted at the prospect area and ore deposit studies, surface and subsurface exploration techniques have advanced significantly over that period.

“We will be deploying our own drone-borne hyper-spectral scanner, gamma ray spectrometer and magnetometer and expect to have teams on the ground, mapping and sampling at Jabal Sahabiyah imminently. Our efforts at the prospect-scale will not detract from ongoing target generation and reconnaissance exploration activities which we are conducting at-pace and intensity, country-wide, across Saudi Arabia.

“These operations have already resulted in the identification of new prospect areas and the submission of promising exploration licence applications. Saudi Arabia is promoting an exciting new vision for mining and exploration, and we are proud to play an integral part in this truly transformational process.”