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Saudi Arabia well placed to become major global player in commodities

Leading local and international experts agree that the Saudi Arabia has what it takes to be a mining and minerals superpower

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Saudi Arabia is well positioned to become a leading commodities supplier in the region, and a major player in the mining and minerals sector globally.

Leading local and international experts agree that the Saudi Arabia has what it takes to be a mining and minerals superpower with its massive natural resources, combined with a number of state initiatives focused on giving the sector a major boost.

Among these initiatives include the forthcoming Saudi Mining and Minerals 2015 conference and exhibition, which is being organized for the first time under the patronage of Ibrahim Al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, to help shed light on how the Saudi Arabia can achieve its global mining and minerals aspirations.

It will be held on Oct. 27-29, 2015 at the Prince Sultan Grand Hall, Al Faisaliah Exhibition & Convention Centre in Riyadh.

“Saudi Arabia holds rich mineral resources such as Tantalum, Niobium, REE, Quartz, Iron ore among others that provide manufacturing opportunities to develop high value products for the growing demand of several advanced industries such as automotive, aerospace, solar and oil & gas. Investors in these opportunities will benefit from the Kingdom competitive advantage in energy and the provided financial incentives,” said Khaild Al-Salem, President, National Industrial Cluster Development Program (NICDP), a government entity set up to grow and diversify the Kingdom’s economy by developing targeted industrial clusters and leveraging its rich natural resources.

Abundant natural resources

For Saudi Arabia to succeed, Al-Salem said that Saudi Arabica should “continue to uncover its abundant natural resources through more exploration, pro-actively market new opportunities, develop the mining services sector, and integrate with downstream industries to strengthen competitiveness and maximize value addition.”

Another key speaker at the event, Paul Robinson, Director at CRU Group, global leaders in mining and metals analysis, says phosphate is one commodity where Saudi Arabia is well positioned to become a leading regional supplier.

“Saudi Arabia has ample phosphate reserves and its production cost is among the lowest in the world. With India and Asia on its doorstep, Saudi Arabia can easily supply the major consumers of the world. Ma’aden has also been very astute, inviting partners with expertise to the Wa’ad Al Shammal project.

The partnership with Mosaic and SABIC brings Saudi Arabia extensive technical and operating experience. Looking forward, despite subdued market price prospects, Ma’aden should continue to operate with best-in-class operating margins, for the sector.”

According to Robinson, Saudi Arabia also has the potential to build commodity clusters in a number of base metals and other commodities to meet the growing domestic needs, as well as those within the Gulf region. He will share further insights on key developments in the global commodity market and the mining industry at the symposium.

Global impact

Further, Robinson believes that for all developers and operators of mining assets, the uncertainty around the future economic growth of China and the impact this has on the global demand for commodities is a key issue.

“With the expectation of oversupply in many commodity markets, miners are focused on three things today – protecting their operating margin by lowering costs, preserving their cash reserves by delaying capex, and reviewing and postponing their project pipelines.”

“There will be a cyclical recovery following China’s structural reset,” Robinson adds. This would require “new mine investment in many commodities and stakeholders with the right risk appetite, the right project and right timing to benefit from the next positive price cycle.”

The Saudi Mining and Minerals Symposium 2015, jointly organized by MEED Events and Montgomery Star, will also feature an exhibition participated in by leading local and international companies showcasing the very latest products, services and technologies in the mining and minerals sector.

The first event of its kind in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Mining and Minerals Symposium is supported by Saudi’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and the National Industrial Cluster Development Program; as well as Ma’aden, Atheeb, Outotec, Ali Salem Al-Raddadi Factory, Saudi Specialty Chemical Ind. Co. Ltd., ThyssenKrupp, SRK Consulting, and Roscoe Postle Associates, Inc.

This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on Oct. 19, 2015.