Saudi Arabia to auction five new mining exploration licenses in 2023 – statement

Saudi Arabia plans to auction off five new mining exploration licenses with copper, zinc, lead and iron deposits for local and international investors in 2023, the mines minister said on Sunday, as it diversifies the economy away from hydrocarbons.

The ministry will later launch the bidding process for licenses in Bir Umq, Jabal Idsas, Umm Hadid, Jabal Sahabiyah and Ar Ridaniyah, a statement from Bandar Al-Khorayef said.

The licenses will be awarded under a new law that came into force in January 2021 and aims to accelerate foreign investment in the sector as part of efforts to diversify the economy away from hydrocarbons.

Riyadh’s efforts to build a non-oil based economy involve a shift towards exploiting vast untapped reserves of several resources, including phosphate, gold, copper, uranium and bauxite, the main source of aluminum.

The government estimates that the kingdom’s unused mineral resources are valued at 5 trillion riyals ($1.33 trillion).

Most of the new licenses have zinc and copper deposits while Jabal Idsas is for iron, the statement said, adding that Umm Hadid in the Riyadh region also includes lead, copper and silver.

“(The new licenses) are aimed at achieving the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 and increasing the mining sector’s contribution to gross domestic product to $64 billion by 2030,” Khorayef’s statement said.

Vision 2030 is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to transform the country’s economy by 2030 as the kingdom prepares for the post-fossil energy era.
The five licenses will follow the Khnaighuiyah mines, where zinc and copper deposits are estimated at around 26 million tonnes and which were awarded to a consortium of Moxico Resources PLC and Ajlan & Bros Mining Co. last month.
Source: Reuters (report by Aziz El Yaakoubi; editing by John Stonestreet and Nick Macfie)

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