Vedanta plans hub in the UAE or Saudi Arabia

04 October 2021
Firm plans to pursue partnerships with businesses in the region on the sidelines of Expo 2020

India-based mining firm Vedanta is keen to explore business expansion opportunities in the Middle East, including setting up a regional headquarters in the UAE or Saudi Arabia.

Vedanta is a key partner of the Indian pavilion at Expo 2020 and intends to showcase “India’s capabilities” over the next six months.

In his recent address to shareholders, Vedanta chairman Anil Aggarwal said the company plans to bring in $20bn-worth of investments for its business in India, which will contribute to nation-building.

In an exclusive interview with MEED, CEO and whole-time director Sunil Duggal (pictured) highlighted how the UAE and broader region are promising mineral and trade hubs.

“We’re keen to talk to companies such as Maaden and Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) to discuss collaborative opportunities,” said Duggal.

“We’re looking at having a regional centre, given that this [region] lies between the East and West. Through our presence here, we can partner up with local firms, leverage digital expertise and explore opportunities with sovereign wealth funds.”

Duggal said Vedanta was evaluating both the UAE and Saudi Arabia as possible locations for its regional headquarters.

Saudi Arabia is a metals and minerals hub in the region, accounting for a sizeable 37.9 per cent of the Middle East and Africa’s SR60bn ($16bn) metals and mining industry market.

Estimates from Invest Saudi indicate there is SR4.88tn ($1.3tn)-worth of untapped mining potential in the kingdom, with 20 million ounces of below-ground gold reserves.

The kingdom is also keen to involve the private sector, promising cost advantages and flourishing domestic demand.

Duggal emphasised that these factors make Saudi Arabia a lucrative market.

“We are looking at creating forums to pursue these opportunities, especially through Expo 2020,” he said.

Vedanta is also looking to partner with firms providing technology and seismic data interpretation capabilities beyond the traditional players such as Halliburton and Baker Hughes.

Duggal said the company will organise roadshows over the coming months and map potential collaborators while showcasing its participation at the Indian pavilion.

“India needs energy security, and [partnerships] in this space help us make that a reality,” he said. “Oil and gas, minerals, digital technology, ESG – these are all very important to us.”

Vedanta’s parent company, Vedanta Resources, has a precious metal refinery and cast copper rod production plant in Fujairah.

The UAE’s EGA supplies Vedanta with Guinean bauxite from its wholly-owned subsidiary Guinea Alumina Corporation (GAC).

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