Saudi Arabia to Auction Mining Licenses in 2022
Arab News reported that Saudi Arabia plans to auction two major mining licenses in 2022 for commodities including gold, copper and zinc, as the Kingdom aims to triple the mining sector’s contribution to the national gross domestic product to SAR 240 billion and double the number of jobs to 470,000 by 2030. The auction was announced by Vice Minister for Saudi Mining Affairs Khalid Al-Mudaifer during an interview with S&P Global on the sidelines of the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association Leaders Forum in Dubai. Al-Mudaifer said “We expect to see an increase in international investment in mining, particularly because demand for minerals around the world is growing fast.”
Al-Mudaifer said that “A new mining law, which came into force on Jan. 1, 2021, will help attract more foreign investors because it treats them equally with local investors. We have already received a number of applications for exploration licenses from locals and are also in conversations with a number of international mining businesses.”
According to geological surveys dating back 80 years, the Kingdom has an estimated reserve of untapped mining potential valued at USD 1.3 trillion. Saudi Arabia’s mining industry has already attracted some major foreign investors. American industrial corporation Alcoa has a 25.1% stake in two companies, Ma’aden Bauxite and Alumina and Ma’aden Aluminum, as part of USD 10.8 billion joint venture with the Saudi Arabian Mining Company Ma’aden located in Ras al-Khair Industrial City in the Eastern Province. The Mosaic Company, a fertilizer producer, has a 25% stake in the USD 8 billion Ma’aden Wa’ad Al-Shamal Fertilizer Production Complex located in Wa’ad Al Shamal Minerals Industrial City in the north of Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, Barrick Gold has a 50% stake with Ma’aden in the Jabal Sayid underground Copper Mine and Plant.