Mauritanian Copper Mines SA
1 416 361 6400
Mining has a long history in Mauritania and Guelb Moghrein is one of the largest external investments in the country. The copper-gold operation is located 250km northeast of the capital, Nouakchott, near the town of Akjoujt. The Guelb Moghrein deposit was first developed in the early 1970s by Anglo American Corporation, however, it closed in 1977 due to technical difficulties and high fuel prices.
First Quantum acquired an 80% interest in the asset in 2004 and achieved commercial production in 2006, increasing its investment through plant upgrades in 2008 and adding a magnetite plant in 2013. In 2010, the Company increased its ownership in Guelb Moghrein to 100%. Guelb Moghrein employs around 1000 people, almost all Mauritanian nationals, and in 2020 contributed USD 33.26 million to Mauritania’s economy.
Mining and Processing
Guelb Moghrein is an example of the Iron Oxide Copper Gold deposit but is unusual in being hosted in a carbonate stratum. Open-pit mining at Guelb Moghrein is carried out using hydraulic excavators and mechanical drive haul trucks. The Occidental main pit has been mined for 16 years and is nearing the end of its life. In June 2019, a smaller second pit, the Oriental pit was developed, targeting high-grade sulphide ore; this project is now complete.
Guelb Moghrein currently mines around 1.9 million BCMs of material annually and processes some 3.6 million tonnes of sulphide ore per year, mainly from existing stockpiles. This ore is treated in a flotation plant to produce a copper-gold concentrate. The flotation tails are treated in the magnetite plant to produce a high-quality, low-cost iron concentrate. The plant currently produces approximately 13,800 tonnes of copper in concentrate per year at a grade of 21% copper, with credits received for contained gold; and in addition, 450,000 tonnes of high-grade magnetite concentrate per year.