In an interview, His Excellency Khalid Al-Mudaifer, Vice-Minister of Mining Affairs for the Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, shares with a global audience of investors the reasons why Saudi Arabia is rapidly emerging as a major mining destination.
Saudi Arabia is emerging as a major mining investment destination because of its geology, industry ecosystem and sustainability focus.
"Saudi Arabia is very much open for business, and we have taken many transformational steps to make investing in mining more attractive than ever before," says Eng. Al-Mudaifer. "Plus, because of what investors have told us are critical success factors, we have a new national mind-set, deeper understanding of the complexities of mining and a greater focus on stability and predictability. Combined with a rich and diverse geological footprint, a transformed mining sector and a sharp focus on sustainability, we can make a compelling case that Saudi Arabia is a mining country in the making."
The Vice-Minister highlights three primary attractions for investors: Geology, Mining Ecosystem and Sustainability.
The Arabian Shield is estimated to contain $1.3 trillion worth of potential mineral value, across key commodities, including gold, copper, phosphate, iron ore and rare earth minerals, many of which are critical to the technologies that will drive a sustainable future, and which are in high demand. The recently launched National Geological Database provides online access to 80 years' worth of national records of geological, geophysical and detailed geochemical information, including thousands of detailed reports on mining targets and prospects.
Also recently announced, a major Regional Geological Survey Program is now under way and will conduct geophysical and geochemical surveys and create detailed mapping of more than 700,000 square kilometers of the Arabian Shield.
To meet the Paris Agreement goals on climate, the global supply of copper and rare earth minerals will need to increase by 40 percent, while nickel and cobalt needs will go up by 60 percent to 70 percent, and lithium requirements will expand by 90 percent. All of those pivotal elements feature in Saudi Arabia's rich geology.
Saudi Vision 2030 singled out mining to grow to become the third pillar of the country's industrial growth, which led to the development of a comprehensive Mining and Mining Industries Development Strategy, which has identified nearly 40 initiatives, most of which are up and running.
Saudi Arabia's legal and regulatory framework for mining is being transformed and is now designed to ensure efficient and transparent licensing; simplify doing business; and support a dynamic, sustainable mining industry. Based on global best practice, a completely revised Mining Investment Law was issued late last year, and now supports a clear and transparent process for license applications and approvals.
The new "Ta-adin" web-based platform offers a single point of access for mining license applications, issuance and information. New incentives have been implemented, including the provision of co-funding up to 75 percent of investment, a five-year royalty holiday for miners, discounts on royalties for local downstream production and support for Saudization costs. The Kingdom already has attracted significant amounts of domestic and international investment in mining commodities like gold, phosphate and aluminum.
To a degree, this prior success has been based on a variety of 'baked in' advantages for investors:
High domestic demand for mineral outputs.
Geographic placement in a key part of the world and proximity to end-user markets in major regional geographies, including MENA, Asia and Europe.
Safety and security, as ranked by the World Economic Forum's security index.
Continuous progress in 'ease of doing business', with the World Bank placing Saudi Arabia in the top 10 in terms of an improving business climate.
Strong infrastructure, including roads, rail, ports and electricity networks, and significant investments in water utilization and infrastructure.
The Mining Sustainability Principle aims to protect the environment and the health and safety of workers in the sector. The Kingdom has launched the Mining Sector Sustainability Assurance Initiative, which aims to create a sector that is focused on balancing economic value and environmental protection. The country's new mining law ensures that sustainable practices are a foremost priority for new operators.
The Vice-Minister also announced the Future Minerals Summit (FMS), the first-ever event to offer a 'one-stop-shop' for investors, miners and other stakeholders.
Planned for January 11 to 13, 2022, in Riyadh, the program will include:
Defining a New Mining Hub:, Showcasing opportunities across the Middle East, Central Asia, and North and East Africa.
Lands of Opportunity: Outlining partnership opportunities across integrated value chains.
Reimagining Mining: Shining a spotlight on innovations that will support mining in the future.
Mining's Contribution to Society: Highlighting the industry's vital role in producing the inputs needed to create a circular carbon future, and attracting the workforce of the future.
A number of Ministers and more than 50 world-class speakers have been confirmed for the Summit, including mining, investment, technology, manufacturing and sustainability thought leaders Mark Bristow, President of Barrick Gold; Robert Friedland, Founder and Co-Chairman of Ivanhoe Mines; Eric Cantor, Managing Director of Moelis & Company; Andrew Forrest, Chairman of Fortescue Metals Group; Andrew Liveris, Chairman of Lucid Motors; Roy Harvey, President and CEO of Alcoa; Jeremy Weir, Chairman and CEO of Trafigura; Marco Lambertini, General Secretary of WWF; Thomas Kaplan, Chairman of Novagold; Jeffrey Dawes, CEO of Komatsu Mining Corp; Rohitesh Dhawan, CEO of the International Council on Mining and Metals; and Peter Leon, Partner at Herbert Smith Freehills and one of the world's pre-eminent mining lawyers.
His Excellency Khalid Al-Mudaifer, Vice-Minister of Mining Affairs, said: "The caliber of speakers who already have committed to the Future Minerals Summit demonstrates the tremendous interest in the new frontier of mining that includes the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. This part of the world will play a vital role in meeting the exponential growth in global demand for the critical minerals needed in a low-carbon society. The Summit offers a 'one-stop-shop' where countries can learn from world-class experts how to build a sustainable industry, and where investors and miners can gain in-depth knowledge about the regions' tremendous geological potential."
In addition to the dozens of confirmed speakers from the mining industry, leaders from multilateral organizations such as the World Bank, International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), and World Gold Council also will share their knowledge and insights with Summit attendees.
"It is vital for us as an industry to come together with governments and other stakeholders to build the groundwork for the safe, fair and sustainable production of the minerals and metals needed to achieve the UN's sustainable development goals. Our research clearly shows that under the right conditions, the mining sector can be a powerful force for national and regional development, and I welcome this important event at a critical time for the industry and the region," said ICMM CEO Rohitesh Dhawan.
For more information, please visit: www.futuremineralssummit.com