Saudi Arabia aims to establish mutually beneficial partnerships with Australian and other major mining sector stakeholders to help the world in accessing the country’s $1.3 trillion-worth high-demand minerals, said Engineer Khaled Al Mudaifer, the Vice-Minister for Mining Affairs.

He was speaking at Australia’s leading mining industry event, the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC), being held in Sydney, Australia.

"A key objective of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is the diversification of the kingdom’s economy, spreading sustainable development to all regions and creating quality job opportunities for the Saudi youth," stated Al Mudaifer.

“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 added.

Participating under the brand ‘Invest Saudi’, the Saudi delegation is led by Bandar Alkhorayef, Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, and includes other 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 Vice-Minister pointed out that Saudi Arabia had become a world-class destination for mining investments owing to four key elements - Collection and publication of geological data; Favourable Investment System; Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) and Integrated Value Chains.

"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," remarked Al Mudaifer.

Incentives of up to 90% discount on mining royalties are being offered to investors, who contribute to developing sustainability upstream, mid-stream 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," noted the Vice-Minister.

"We are open to new ideas and suggestions. This flexibility enables us to adopt industry-leading practices, once we know they are feasible and that they align with our core values," he added.

According to him, investor interest and mining activities in the 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% 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," he stated.

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 Vice- Minister added that a further $32 billion worth of investments in the midstream sector are currently in the pipeline.

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