Saudi Arabia is seeking SR500m ($133bn) of private sector investment by 2035 as it opens up its mining sector.
The government recently approved a strategy for mining in the kingdom that aims to turn its estimated $1.3 trillion of natural resources into a key economic driver for the future. The strategy requires significant investment.
“The government is planning to spend SR21bn, this is like seed investment. What we are really interested in is private sector investment, add we are hoping to attract about half a trillion Saudi riyals during this period,” said Husain Alotaibi, president, Saudi Geological Survey speaking at the Mining Show in Dubai on 8 October.
The government has identified investment opportunities for the private sector that it says are attractive because of strong local demand in Saudi Arabia, which is the fourth largest importer of minerals globally.
“1,200 potential targets were identified, and these opportunities when they were screened more, about 1,000 projects went for initial feasibility study, and out of them 42 initiatives were identified and this is across the value chain and different sectors,” said Alotaibi.
Large amounts of new infrastructure supporting the sector will need to be built. This includes 2,100-3,200 kilometres of new roads, 18 million tonnes of additional freight capacity on the North-South rail network, about 50 million tonnes of additional port capacity, a new air strip near Dhalm – between Riyadh and Mecca, and 52 square kilometres of industrial land to support midstream and downstream projects as well as 30 square kilometres for salt evaporation.
The strategy for the mining sector has a number of key economic objectives including a SR217bn increase in contribution to GDP by 2035, a SR37bn reduction in imports, a SR10.79bn increase in government revenues, and 265,000 new job.
Several private, international firms are already involved in Saudi Arabia’s sector, often in partnership with Maaden. US mining giant Alcoa has a 25.1 per cent stake in both Maaden Aluminium Company and Maaden Bauxite & Alumina Company. Another US firm, Barrick Gold Corporation, has a 50:50 joint venture with Maaden for Maaden Barrick Copper Company (MBCC). A third American firm, Trecora Resources, has a one-third share in Al-Masane Al-Kobra Mining Company (AMAK), which produces copper and zinc.
|Key Saudi mining companies|
|Company||Major shareholders||Commodity||Annual capacity (t/y)|
|Maaden Aluminium Company||Maaden 74.9%; Alcoa 25.1%||Aluminium||760,000|
|Maaden Bauxit & Alumina Company||Maaden 74.9%; Alcoa 25.1%||Bauxite||2,000,000|
|Industrial Minerals Company||Maaden||Bauxite||1,100,000|
|Maaden Gold & Base Metals Company||Maaden||Copper||1,000|
|Al Masane Al-Kobra Mining Company||Trecora Resources 33.4%; Arab Mining Co. 19.5%||Copper||10,000|
|Maaden Gold & Base Metals Company||Maaden||Gold||8,000*|
|Maaden Industrial Minerals Company||Maaden||Kaolin||120,000|
|Maaden Industrial Minerals Company||Maaden||Magnesite||79,000|
|Maaden Phosphate Company||Maaden 70%; SABIC 30%||Phosphate||11,600,000|
|Maaden Gold & Base Metals Company||Maaden||Zinc||2,000|
|Al Masane Al-Kobra Mining Company||Trecora Resources 33.4%; Arab Mining Co. 19.5%||Zinc||4,500|
|t/y=Tonnes a year; *=Gold production capacity is in kilograms. Sources: US Geological Survey; company reports|
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