Just one-quarter of blasted rock in usable: Marble ruined in Ruwaik Mountains [Archives:2002/51/Last Page]

December 16 2002

By Hassan Al-Zaidi
Yemen Times Staff
Despite the fact that mineral resources receive great attention and concern by modern countries worldwide, in Yemen we seem to lack the slightest of concern for our own.
Those resources play a pivotal role in developing our economy, as they’re a main source of revenue. However, negligence and abuse of those resources, including valuable rocks such as marble, have become a widely observed phenomenon throughout the country.
Construction marble is unique with its elegant architectural beauty when used in houses and structures throughout the country. Marble is a crystalline rock having one or more of minerals such as calcite, dolomite, ocrpentine and travertine. It is valued for its coolness, smoothness, shine and light reflective qualities.
It’s believed by some to be formed by a very slow process of re-crystallization over a period as long as two to three million years. The original rock became molten by the intense heat that prevailed and the escape of carbon dioxide is prevented by the high pressure.
Abuse of our mineral resources is mainly due to the increasing activity of certain merchants and companies in digging for marble rocks in areas rich with mineral resources. Among those sites is an area in the Ruwaik Mountains in the middle of the Empty Quarter Desert where the Safir oil fields are. The area is composed a chain of three marmoreal mountains of interesting shapes in the middle of the desert.
With no sense of responsibility, trucks carrying tens of workers come to the area and destroy the mountains to collect the largest amount of marble rocks possible without prior knowledge of the state.
Then the trucks carry those rocks to Sanaa where they are sold for high prices. However, the mountains end up in ruins, as only one quarter of the destroyed rocks are usable. The workers do not have the equipment or skills to professionally derive the marble rocks.
“We use dynamite explosives to bring the mountain blocks apart to obtain those valuable rocks” a worker at the site said.
A polish businessman visiting the area was willing to invest in this field until he saw what was going on in that region. “Why do Yemenis destroy their natural resources with their own hands? What are the authorities doing about this?” he asked.
What the businessman doesn’t know is that this has been going on for tens of years, which could give an impression of the volume of destruction and loss caused to our economy. Yemen is rich with marble, as it is estimated that the country has more than 885 million cubic meters of marble that could indeed be utilized for the best of our country’s interest.