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Atlas of Jordan

Myriam Ababsa

Chapter one - Constraints and Resources

Mineral Resources

Myriam Ababsa

Texte intégral

1Jordan’s natural resources are very limited: water is scarce, there is little arable land and the country has few sources of energy (fig. I.11).

2Jordan’s mineral industry has a long history: flint was used in prehistoric times and early copper mining started in Wadi Faynan during the Chalcolithic Period. The following is a brief presentation of Jordan’s resources. Mining and investments will be studied in Part 3.

Figure I.11 — Jordan Mineral Resources.

Figure I.11 — Jordan Mineral Resources.

NRA 2012


3The Jordanian Natural Resources Authority estimates that phosphate deposits cover approximately 60% of the country, they are mainly concentrated in a 300 km wide strip running north to south with most of the economically viable reserves in the Eshidiya region. At the end of 2008 JPMC’s (Jordan Phosphate Mines Co.) total reserves of phosphate ore were estimated at 1.5 billion tons. Jordan is the world’s sixth-largest producer at 7 million tons per year.


4Potash has been produced by solar evaporation on the banks of the Dead Sea since ancient times. With a production of 1.2 million tons in 2010, Jordan is the world’s seventh producer (the first being Canada with 9.5 million tons). Bromine gas is also produced in Jordan, as well as in Israel.

Oil and Natural Gas

5Oil - The Hamza oilfield in Azraq had estimated reserves of around 90 million barrels of oil in 2010, of which around 10 million barrels are thought to be recoverable.

6Gas - Jordan has fairly limited reserves of natural gas: 6,031 billion cubic metres. It has one gas field in operation at Risha in the eastern desert near the border with Iraq (74 billion cubic feet per day). The Risha field’s production is used to fuel a nearby power plant, which generated less than 10% of Jordan’s electricity in 2006.  Jordan produces only 250 Mm3 per year, so it needed to import 2.73 billion m3 per year from Egypt in 2010.

7Oil Shale – Jordan has vast reserves of oil shale (covering 60% of the country). About 43 billion tons of oil shale have been discovered in central Jordan. The largest deposit is in Yarmuk and is extremely thick (approximately 300 m). Jordan hopes to exploit this source of energy although its extraction is costly and has heavy environmental impacts.

8Tar sands - The term tar sands is used here for sandstone and other porous rocks which are impregnated with bitumen. Approximately 35 million tons of tar sands have recently been discovered in the Wadi Isal area, east of the Lisan Peninsula, with about 10% oil by weight. The oil has very high viscosity, a low API gravity and a high sulphur content (2% to 6%).

9Uranium – Jordan’s phosphate deposits contain uranium, ranging from 65 ppm to 170 ppm. The uranium content of phosphate deposits varies widely in different areas and at different depths. Generally speaking, the uranium content decreases as one moves southwards from Ruseifa to Hasa and Shadiya. According to initial surveys carried out in 2009 and 2010, the central region has estimated reserves of 70,000 tons. According to the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission, Jordan has estimated conventional uranium reserves of 140,000 tons (Oxford Business Group, 2011).

Potash on the Dead Sea Shore.

Potash on the Dead Sea Shore.

Arab Potash Company, Annual Report 2010

Ship being loaded with phosphates, Aqaba.

Ship being loaded with phosphates, Aqaba.

Jordan Phosphate Mines Company, website

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure I.11 — Jordan Mineral Resources.
Crédits NRA 2012
Fichier image/jpeg, 176k
Titre Potash on the Dead Sea Shore.
Crédits Arab Potash Company, Annual Report 2010
Fichier image/jpeg, 128k
Titre Ship being loaded with phosphates, Aqaba.
Crédits Jordan Phosphate Mines Company, website
Fichier image/jpeg, 115k

© Presses de l’Ifpo, 2013

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