Global expert praises Saudi Arabia’s mining investment environment

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A renowned global mining expert praised the steps taken by Saudi Arabia to develop the investment environment for the mining sector, expecting that the Kingdom would, by the next decade, be a leading player in the sector alongside China.

Robert Friedland, Founder and Co-Chairman of the Canadian Ivanhoe Mines Company, made the above comment on Monday while speaking at the Bank of America Commodities Conference in Riyadh, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

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Mining is one of the sectors that has been identified for expansion as part of Vision 2030 initiated by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources has outlined plans to attract $32 billion of investment into the mining sector. The ministry’s target would fund nine mining projects for midstream minerals and metals, said Industry and Mineral Resources Minister Bandar al-Khorayef, according to a statement in early May this year, according to Reuters.

Friedland said that these regulatory and legislative steps and measures would attract major investments to the mining sector, noting that the Kingdom aims to exploit its mining resources at the maximum possible value by increasing value chains, in addition to securing 50 percent of its electricity needs from renewable energy.

He stressed that the mining industry is an essential pillar of the world's transition to a more sustainable future, as emerging mining areas play a vital role in this transformation.

Friedland, who was one of the keynote speakers at the International Mining Conference held in Riyadh last January, explained that the Kingdom is rich in various types of minerals, including those used in the manufacture of technologies necessary to build a sustainable future, which are in great demand, including copper, phosphate, and iron ore, and many rare earth metals.

He pointed out that the Arabian Shield region in Western Saudi Arabia enjoys limitless mining capabilities, including lithium, copper, gold, and other unexplored minerals, in addition to the region's low-cost energy, solid infrastructure, and proximity to global commercial markets.

He noted that in the coming years there will be a significant increase in the demand for copper, which is used in the electric vehicle industry, and that copper supplies have become extremely important for generating the necessary electricity for the global economy, stressing that copper mining and the provision of its supplies is a national security issue and a fundamental factor in achieving our economic goals.

Friedland explained that by 2030 the world will need 20 million charging points for electric cars, which means an increase in copper demand by 250 percent, and that by 2040 electric cars will require an additional 3.7 million tons of copper annually.

He explained that copper is a major component of green infrastructure, and is involved in the construction of networks and wind turbines, saying: “We need eight new mines, such as the Kamoa Kakula mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to fill the projected copper supply gap, which is estimated at 9 million tons by 2030.”

Friedland stressed that mining companies must become effective in exercising their development roles, and governments should support the mining industry to achieve a successful transition to clean energy, noting that the world has not yet realized the extent of the disruption that the replacement of fossil fuels with clean energy may cause.

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