Mining Sector Accelerates Saudi Arabia’s Bold Economic Vision

The Saudi mining sector has witnessed extraordinary growth since Saudi Arabia embarked on bold transformation plans to diversify its economy.

Mining has played a pivotal role in supporting the Arabian Peninsula’s economy for thousands of years.

Mining exploration started its journey in Saudi Arabia in the 1930s, opening a new avenue of success and progress.

One year later, it entered a new phase of conducting geological surveys to explore mineral and water resources in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Vision 2030

The Saudi Vision 2030 has revolutionized the mining sector and maximized its potentials and visions.

The Kingdom’s comprehensive road map for economic development and diversification has singled out the mining sector as the potential third ‘pillar’ of the industry after petroleum and petrochemicals.

Saudi Arabia has a sterling reputation as a rich reliable energy provider to the world.

After launching Vision 2030, the Kingdom has taken serious steps to end its dependency on oil and unleash new horizons of diversified economy.

National Industrial Development and Logistics Program

Mining Sector Accelerates Saudi Arabia's Bold Economic Vision
Mining Sector Accelerates Saudi Arabia’s Bold Economic Vision

The ministry has brought together its visions and objectives under the umbrella of the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP).

NIDLP includes 4 main sectors: energy, industry, mining, and logistics.

It marks the Kingdom’s pursuit to becoming a pioneering industrial powerhouse and prestigious global logistics hub.

The program primarily aims at positioning the Kingdom as an effective key player in the energy, mining, logistics and industry sectors.

It set a comprehensive mining strategy that includes 38 initiatives designed to foster mining exploration and development.

The initiative sheds light on Saudi Arabia’s status as the fourth-largest net importer of these materials in the world. This fact represents a golden opportunity for this promising sector to drive the Saudi economic growth.

Mineral Belts

Saudi Arabia has 35 locations with various geological formations, called mineral belts that are full of mineral deposits.

These belts represent 14 % of the Kingdom’s space and cover 305,000 sq. km in 2022.

The ministry clarified that the belts’ mineral deposits are approximately 75 % of the Kingdom’s total mineral deposits, with an anticipated value of SAR5 trillion.

Approximately 94 % of the mineral belts are situated in the Arabian Shield, which covers over 622,00 sq. km.

Geological Survey General Program

The Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources launched the General Program for Geological Survey in 2020 to create detailed digital geological maps of the Arabian Shield area with an accurate indication of locations, types, and quantities of the mineral resources in the area.

These maps lay the foundation for launching bold visions designed to capture worldwide investment and make use of every inch of Saudi mineral resources.

The program will increase the mining sector’s contribution to the Saudi revenues from about SAR5 billion in 2015 to about SAR14 billion Riyals in 2030.

Mining Sector Accelerates Saudi Arabia's Bold Economic Vision
Saudi Arabia Launches the Geological Survey Program

Arabian Shield Project

The General Program for Geological Survey has unveiled one of the largest geological mapping projects in 2023, in partnership with the Chinese Geological Survey.

The program has taken a bold decision to explore huge swathes of mineral deposits in the Arabian Shield region.

Valued at SAR777 million ($207 million), the project bears the responsibility of:

  • Creating 271 detailed digital geological reports and maps of the Arabian Shield
  • Determining the origin of mineral deposits in the area
  • Exploring new reservoirs to capture foreign investments
  • Fostering the national geological database
  • Boosting the national library of drilling samples

Accelerated Discovery Initiative

The Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources unveiled the Accelerated Discovery Initiative in 2022, to grant mining licenses of mineral prospecting in the Al-Khunaiqiah site in Riyadh.

The initiative has multiple objectives:

  • Developing the Khunaiqiyah site
  • Providing exploration studies of mineral deposits in the area
  • Attracting thriving investment opportunities
  • Creating direct and indirect jobs
  • Promoting small and medium-sized exploration companies
  • Enhancing the zinc and copper industries in the Kingdom
Mining Sector Accelerates Saudi Arabia's Bold Economic Vision
Saudi Mining

Worldwide Fastest Growing Development in Investment

Saudi Arabia has achieved exceptional progress in mining investment in the latest annual assessment of mining investment risks from MineHutte and Mining Journal Intelligence, reported Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

The Kingdom has witnessed a robust growth in the development of the regulatory and fundamental environment that attracted promising investments during the past five years (2018-2023).

Since the launch of the transformation program in the sector, the Kingdom has become one of the best destinations for mining investment due to its successful legislative structure and regulations.

The report highlighted the following achievements:

  • Saudi Arabia stands out as the second best-performing country in issuing mining licenses.
  • The Kingdom is one of top ten countries in improving the financial policies indexes.
  • Saudi mining sector is one of the prosperous sectors worldwide when it comes to legal regulations.

The Chief Operating Officer and Research Director at MineHutte, Emma Beattie, commended the Kingdom’s positive transformation over the past five years, stressing that this overwhelming success is mainly due to the revolutionary reforms in the legislative infrastructure.

“It is impressive and motivating that these major transformations contribute to attracting foreign investments and achieving the economic objectives outlined by the Saudi Vision 2030,” Beattie added.

Luminous Future with Aramco and Ma’aden

Saudi Arabia is gearing up to make use of an estimated $2.5 trillion worth of domestic mineral assets to embark on a wide series of mining exploration, in collaboration with the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, Aramco, and the Saudi state-owned mining group Ma’aden.

Saudi Arabia joined the global competition to obtain biggest shares of lithium to foster its ambitious goal to become the best destination for electric vehicle manufacturing.

The Kingdom is fully aware of Lithium’s significance as an integral part of manufacturing batteries for electric cars, laptops and smartphones.

Therefore, both Aramco and Ma’aden are currently striving to extract lithium from seawater and oil fields.

Mining Sector Accelerates Saudi Arabia's Bold Economic Vision
Saudi Aramco

In an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, Bandar Al-Khorayef, highlighted the serious attempts to secure domestic supplies emphasizing the Kingdom’s bold vision to emerge as a prestigious hub for manufacturing electric vehicles.

Al-Khorayef confirmed the pivotal role of lithium as a crucial component for batteries, mentioning the promising Saudi initiatives to extract lithium from seawater in collaboration with Aramco. “Lithium is a very important mineral” and “a very important part of the supply chain, especially for batteries,” Al-Khorayef said.

In response to a question on international lithium investments, Al-Khorayef expressed his confidence in Saudi Arabia’s ability to provide its natural resource requirements through the local production and importation.

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