Saudi Arabia has signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) for mining collaborations with Egypt, Russia, Morocco and the Democratic Republic of Congo at the Future Minerals Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The MOUs Saudi Arabia signed with Egypt’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Morocco’s Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development and the Congo’s Ministry of Mines of the Democratic Republic involve cooperation in “the field of mineral wealth”, while a separate agreement inked with Russia involves geology.
The country also announced a $182 million mineral exploration incentive program as part of efforts to build an economy that does not rely mostly on oil. Saudi Arabia has vast reserves of phosphate, gold, copper and bauxite.
“This programme will de-risk investments in our exploration, securing to enable new commodities, green field projects and junior miners,” Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef said at the Future Minerals Forum.
Deals worth 75 billion riyals ($20 billion) are expected to be signed in Riyadh during this week’s industry event, he added, announcing the fifth and sixth rounds of a licensing program offering access to 33 exploration sites this year.
The Gulf state has revised upwards estimates for its untapped mineral resources to $2.5 trillion, from a 2016 forecast of $1.3 trillion. Alkhorayef said this was based on 30% of the Arabian shields exploration, suggesting there is more to be discovered.
As part of its push to diversify away from fossil fuels, Saudi Arabia has also established investment fund Manara Minerals, a joint venture between Ma’aden and the Public Investment Fund (PIF), to buy assets overseas.
Its first major foray abroad was a deal to become a 10% shareholder in Vale’s $26 billion copper and nickel unit last July.
“Manara’s …management are looking around, finding different assets to buy or to partner with different countries.”
(With files from Reuters)