Saudi Arabia has 35 massive mineral-rich sites spread over 305,000 square kilometres containing gold, copper, zinc, lead and other metals, according to government data. 

The Kingdom, the largest Arab economy, had utilised only part of those sites by building 377 minerals complexes in various parts of the country in partnership with the private sector, the Industry and Mineral Resources Ministry said in a report Monday. 

By the end of 2022, the world’s largest oil exporter had 35 massive “minerals belts” that together represent nearly 14 percent of the country’s area, the report said. 

The belts are concentrated in areas stretching from the Western Mecca city to Central Saudi Arabia and parts of the South, it said, adding that these areas contained around 75 percent of the Kingdom’s total mineral wealth estimated at 5 trillion Saudi riyals ($1.33 trillion). 

Saudi Arabia, which controls the world’s second recoverable crude oil resources, has awarded scores of mining permits to local and foreign firms since it began enforcing a new law to attract capital in its minerals industry three years ago within a drive to diversify its oil-reliant economy.

List of mineral belts by region:

Makkah - 9 belts
Asir - 7 belts
Riyadh – 6 belts
Tabuk – 5 belts
Al-Madinah - 4 belts
Al-Baha – 2 belts
Qassim – 1 belt
Najran - 1 belt

List of mineral belts by type:

Gold – 16 belts
Sulphides – 15 belts
Nickel – 3 belts
Zinc – 1 belt

 (Writing by Nadim Kawach; Editing by Anoop Menon)