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A Saudi mine

Saudi Arabia’s mineral wealth to top $2.5trn

RIYADH, April 19, 2024

Saudi Arabia's abundant mineral wealth, estimated at SR9.4 trillion ($2.5 trillion), presents a crucial opportunity to expand non-oil revenue streams alongside the oil and petrochemical industries.
 
To accelerate exploration and development, the kingdom has increased its estimated mineral wealth and invested SR682.5 million ($182 million) in exploration incentives by the end of 2023, a Saudi Press Agency (SPA) report said. This commitment was reinforced by the issuance of 152 new industrial licences by the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources in January 2024 alone. The licences include 20 for non-metallic mineral products and 19 for activities related to manufacturing formed metal products, excluding machinery and equipment.
 
According to a report by the National Industrial and Mining Information Center, the 152 industrial licences issued since the beginning of 2023 contributed to bringing the total number of operating and under-construction factories in the kingdom by the end of January 2024 to 11,672. These factories represent a combined investment of SR1,539 trillion.
 
Untapped potential
Recent discoveries, including significant gold reserves along a 100 km stretch in the Mansoura and Masara mines, further emphasise the vast untapped potential of Saudi Arabia's mineral wealth. These mines boast a projected annual production capacity of 250,000 ounces of gold.
 
The ongoing transformations in the mining sector reflect progress toward achieving the comprehensive strategy of the sector outlined in Vision 2030, which aims to unlock the full potential of the sector, driving economic and social growth, in line with the kingdom's ambitious goals for 2030.
 
Vice Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources for Mining Affairs Eng Khalid Al-Mudaifer elaborated on the government's initiatives to propel the mining sector forward. These include implementing programmes to create a business-friendly environment for mining development, enacting the Mining Investment Law to streamline the licensing process, minimising the environmental impact of mining operations, maximising benefits for local communities, and launching a comprehensive geological survey programme to gather important data.
 
The Saudi Industrial Development Fund plays a key role, financing advanced exploration and mining projects. This includes covering up to 75% of eligible project costs, Al-Mudaifer said.
 
Financing solutions
The fund also provides financing solutions for mid-tier and lower-end manufacturing, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), digitalisation efforts, renewable energy projects, and initiatives to increase local sector content.
 
The Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources has released its monthly report, providing key industrial indicators that highlight the state of industrial activity in Saudi Arabia.
 
The report emphasises the significant changes in new industrial investments and presents data related to the mining sector until December 2023. Notably, it included the number of operating factories, which rose 10% in 2023, to 11,549, compared to 10,518 in 2022. The report also shows an increase in new industrial licences (1,379 in 2023) with a total investment exceeding SR81 billion. Additionally, 1,058 new factories commenced production last year, representing investments of SR45 billion.
 
Three-phased approach
To achieve economic transformation in the field of mining, Saudi Arabia is taking rapid strides through a comprehensive three-phase approach:
Phase 1: Mining Activities
Entails exploration and survey operations to determine mineral quantities, conducting economic feasibility studies, developing mines and processing raw materials.
Phase 2: Intermediate Industries
Includes refining and smelting operations to produce basic materials, such as aluminum alloys and solid steel blocks.
Phase 3: Conversion Industries
Entails the manufacturing of semi-finished products, such as iron and aluminum sheets, as well as finished products like iron pipes and bars.
 
Accelerated exploration programmes
The ministry has implemented various other initiatives in the sector, including accelerated exploration programmes using reliable methods, enhancing investment opportunities in the process. These programmes are expected to achieve significant outcomes, including increased spending and investment in mineral exploration, acceleration and expansion of exploration activities, development of a robust exploration sector, the creation of attractive investment opportunities for local and foreign investors, empowering small- and medium-sized companies, to help them participate in the exploration process, and enhancing national expertise in exploration and drilling.
 
The ministry further bolstered the mining sector with the launch of the Saudi Mining Services Company (ESNAD) initiative. ESNAD supports the growth of mining investments by assisting mining directorates and developing robust monitoring and control procedures at mines through the use of advanced monitoring tools and modern technologies, alongside support for collecting revenues and fines.
The benefits of the initiative are multifaceted. The mining sector will see a significant improvement in companies' adherence to environmental, health, and safety standards. This will ensure the well-being of workers in the sector and neighboring communities, while also enhancing the efficiency of monitoring exploited resources, and subsequently boosting state revenues.
 
The Saudi Geological Survey came up with a national geological information programme that seeks to provide geological information and maps of various scales, and conduct aerial and geochemical surveys for the entire Arabian Shield region in order to accelerate investment in mineral exploration.
 
Making an impact
This programme is expected to have an impact on the sector by providing high-resolution geological information that will lead to attracting and increasing investments in the mining sector so that it becomes one of the fundamental pillars of the economy in the kingdom, boosting confidence in exploration works, identifying evidence of the presence of promising mineral deposits and reserves in the Arabian Shield and developing national competencies in geological surveying.
 
The logistics sector also contributes to empowering the mining sector by increasing the attractiveness of investment in it through the provision of solutions for transporting raw materials and processed minerals to smelters and factories in industrial cities at competitive prices.
 
All these successful endeavours will maximise the mining sector's contribution to the GDP, helping it reach SR176 billion by 2030. They will also contribute to improving the trade balance, achieving the sector's sustainability, improving its legislative and investment capabilities, creating more jobs, creating new exports, increasing non-oil revenues and localising manufacturing.--TradeArabia News Service
 



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