SYDNEY — Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister for Mining Affairs Eng. Khalid Al-Mudaifer said that the Kingdom had become a world-class destination for mining investments. He made the remarks while addressing ‘Invest Saudi’ session at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC), Australia’s leading mining industry event, here on Thursday.
The Saudi delegation attending the three-day conference is headed by Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef. The delegation included senior officials from the Ministry of Investment, National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP), Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF), and the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS).
The conference is being held in the wake of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to establish mutually beneficial partnerships with Australia and other major mining sector stakeholders to support the world in accessing the country’s $1.3 trillion worth of high-demand minerals.
In his speech, Al-Mudaifer stated that a key objective of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 was the diversification of the Kingdom’s economy, spreading sustainable development to all regions of the Kingdom, and creating quality job opportunities for the Kingdom’s young generations. “Developing the Kingdom’s mining sector and the related industries and services, opening them for national and foreign investments, is a pivotal part of realizing KSA’s Vision 2030,” he said.
Al-Mudaifer said that Saudi Arabia had become a world-class destination for mining investments owing to four key elements. They are the collection and publication of geological data as geological maps of Saudi Arabian mineral resources are now publicly available through the Regional Geological Survey Program. This data de-risks investment decisions by making the critical mineral resource information digitally available to investors about the estimated $1.3 trillion-worth high-demand minerals, such as gold, copper, zinc, and rare earths. Thereby, allowing them to make more informed investment decisions.
A favorable investment system is another element, he said while noting that the Kingdom is offering lucrative incentives to prospective investors, and exploration and mining companies. This is supported by the Kingdom’s world-class infrastructure and logistics capabilities which are vital to all bulk commodity mining operations.
According to the minister, Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) principles, the third element, are firmly embedded in the country’s new Mining Investment Law. “We are building a mining system for the long term. A system that protects workers and the environment, and provides meaningful development to local communities while maintaining economic and business feasibility for both the Kingdom and the investors,” Al-Mudaifer said.
He noted that Integrated Value Chains are the fourth element. “Incentives of up to 90 percent discount on mining royalties are being offered to investors, who contribute to developing sustainability upstream, midstream, and downstream in the country’s mining sector. “We believe this is a win-win-win situation as it will help the Kingdom become a global mining leader, help investors generate profit, and will create local development and jobs. We are open to new ideas and suggestions, and this flexibility enables us to adopt industry-leading practices, once we know they are feasible and that they align with our core values,” he said.
According to the minister, investor interest and mining activities in Kingdom are gathering pace. This is illustrated by the fact that since January 2021, the Ministry of Mining has received more than 1200 applications for exploration licenses, with about 20 percent of those coming from foreign companies. It currently has 566 active exploration licenses and 176 active exploitation licenses. So far, three mining sites have been part of the ministry’s competitive exploration bidding process. The first and second were awarded to international consortiums, and the ministry has received expressions of interest for an additional location as well. Five new exploration sites are up for auction next year and details for an additional ten opportunities will be released in 2023, the minister said, while noting that a further $32 billion worth of investments in the midstream sector is currently in the pipeline.
Al-Mudaifer stated that this was just the tip of the iceberg. He invited the attendees to the second edition of the Future Minerals Forum (FMF), which will take place between January 10-12, 2023 in Riyadh, where it will be unveiled more about the massive opportunities that the Kingdom and its regional partners have to offer to investors.
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