Saudi Arabia is planning to auction five new mining exploration licenses with copper, zinc, lead and iron deposits for local and international investors in 2023, the mining minister said on Sunday, as it diversifies the economy away from hydrocarbons.
The ministry will launch the bidding process later for the 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 effect 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 an economy that does not rely on oil involves a shift towards mining vast untapped reserves of several resources including phosphate, gold, copper, uranium and bauxite, the main source of aluminum.
The government estimates the kingdom’s unused mineral resources to be valued at 5 trillion riyal ($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 Riyadh region includes also lead, copper and silver.
“(The new licenses) aim to achieve the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 and the increase of the mining sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product to $64 billion in 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-fuel era.
The five licenses will follow Khnaighuiyah mines, where zinc and copper deposits are estimated around 26 million tonnes and which were awarded to a consortium of Moxico Resources PLC and Ajlan & Bros Mining Co. last month.
(By Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by John Stonestreet and Nick Macfie)