Saudi Arabia’s Manara Minerals Investment Co., a venture between the Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden) and the state-backed Public Investment Fund (PIF), is among suitors considering a bid for a stake in Zambian copper mines.

Manara Minerals, along with the British-Australia conglomerate, the Rio Tinto Group, are among suitors for a stake in First Quantum Minerals Ltd.’s Zambian copper mines, according to a Bloomberg report, which cites people familiar with the matter.

Japanese trading houses Mitsui & Co. and Sumitomo Corp. have also been studying the assets, the same report added.

The Bloomberg source was further quoted as saying that First Quantum is open to selling as much as 30% in its mines in Zambia, depending on the offers it receives, and is seeking first-round bids in the coming weeks.

Zambia accounted for about half of the Toronto-listed First Quantum’s copper output and revenue last year.

Saudi’s interest in the Zambian mines comes on the back of the kingdom also preparing to invest nearly $1 billion in the Reko Diq copper-gold mining project in Pakistan, which is majority-owned by Canada’s Barrick Gold Corp., according to another Bloomberg report. 

In its push to diversify from its traditional oil and gas economy, Saudi Arabia has been heavily investing in its mining sector. According to the kingdom’s National Industrial and Mining Information Centre, Saudi invested SAR682.5 million ($182 million) in exploration incentives in 2023.

According to a recent report by the centre, wealth from Saudi Arabia’s mining sector has topped $2.5 trillion, with new developments across the globe. 

(Writing by Bindu Rai, editing by Seban Scaria)