Saudi Arabia could be playing a major global role in the supply of precious minerals needed to power the transition to green energy as part of the kingdom's efforts to reach the net zero carbon emissions goal, said Payne Institute for Public Policy at the Colorado School for Mines in US ahead of the Future Minerals Forum (FMF) in Riyadh.

The second edition of FMF will kick off at the King Abdulaziz International Conference Centre on January 10 and run until January 12, 2023 drawing more than 200 leading mining executives, analysts, investment firms, technology companies and international mining industry associations.

The forum will specifically address the potential of a new mining hub emerging from Africa to Western and Central Asia in supplying the minerals and metals needed to power the clean energy transition, said the organisers, the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources.

The ministry pointed out that it was essential to work closely with many, many partners, to build stable markets, making sure that the minerals industry was transparent, fair and highly collaborative.

Despite a parallel and significant rise in investment across the Middle East in hydrocarbons, the kingdom plans to attract $32 billion of investment in its bid to become a major player in global mining production, it added.

In its paper, Payne Institute stressed that this was "an exciting time for critical minerals" and added that the kingdom could find itself in a powerful position to become a major clean energy player, lying in the middle of the vast mineral-rich super-region stretching from Africa to Central Asia.

The topic lies at the heart of international debate taking place at the FMF which explores how critically precious minerals are needed to power clean energy items such as electric vehicles, computers, smartphones, solar panels, microchips and wind farms.

During the three-day event, global mining industry leaders, including governments and business executives from around the world, will discuss the new report which states that Saudi Arabia has "all the ingredients to be successful" in mining.

The forum will also put spotlight on the theme of creating responsible and resilient minerals and metals supply and value chains in Africa, Western and Central Asia.

The US Institute in its paper advises that a long term commitment and coherent strategy was needed to achieve this goal.

"To make the most of this opportunity, international agreement at all levels is vital. Governments, companies and communities will all have to work together to re-think on a global scale how to extract and use minerals, and provide resilient and sustainable mineral supply chains," it stated in the report.

However, the Payne Institute acknowledged that any economic switch from hydrocarbons to clean energy would take considerable amount of time. In fact, it will take decades, it stated.

High-powered conferences like the second FMF – which has attracted 55 government mining and resources ministers, 200 speakers and 13,000 delegates - must lay the groundwork, forging dynamic discussion with an emphasis on direct and urgent action, said the industry expert in its paper.

Saudi Arabia is in a strong position to convene dialogue about how best to uncover the mineral riches of the super-region, it added.

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