Japan and Saudi Arabia seek common ground on mining sector development

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Saudi Arabia and Japan are strengthening their long-standing bilateral trade relations in the energy sector as both countries pursue common goals towards decarbonization and economic diversification.

While the allied nations are moving closer in numerous areas, one critical sector in which both have a shared desire for growth is in the field of mineral development and mining.

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Announcements of expanded business relations between the two nations came on July 16 at the Ritz Carlton in Jeddah, when Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman.

There they set the course for strong trade ties through the exchange of 26 pre-signed economic agreements. These include the fields of healthcare, mining, clean energy and digital innovation.

On the sidelines of Fumio’s visit, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman stressed how Saudi Arabia and Japan, whose relationship spans 50 years, are crucial strategic partners in the energy sector, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The alliance, he said, has played an important role in strengthening the Kingdom’s pathway to achieving the goals stated in its Vision 2030 agenda towards economic growth, diversification and social transformation.

Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih, also in attendance, emphasized how critical Japan is as an economic partner, adding: “The meeting is a testimony to how strong our economic relations are.”

According to Al-Falih, the Kingdom’s gross domestic product is now 66 percent higher than before the launch of Vision 2030. “Our foreign direct investment has also increased significantly by 120 percent,” he added.

Mining and mining development are thus important sectors of growth for both nations.

In January, Japan amended its Mining Act to target rare earth minerals, recognizing their importance to fuel a shift towards green energy amid increased market demands for EVs and other products.

Saudi Arabia is similarly searching for new rare earth deposits at home as part of its Vision 2030 strategy.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, Saudi Arabia possesses over 20 different types of minerals, including gold, iron, copper, granite and marble. Resources currently being mined in the Kingdom include iron, copper and zinc.

In March, the ministry announced indicative timelines for the bidding cycle of five new mineral exploration opportunities showcased at the Future Minerals Forum 2023 in January in Riyadh. The move marks a strategic shift in the Kingdom towards the discovery and extraction of metals and minerals aiding the country’s transition towards green energy.

Such new investment opportunities aim to explore the mineral resources in the Kingdom, diversify its economy away from an oil-based carbon economy and achieve the goals of Vision 2030 by raising the mining sector’s contribution to the GDP to $64 billion by 20230. Moreover, by investing in mining, the Kingdom aims to diversify its economy and solidify mining as the third pillar of the national industry.

As part of this, in May, Saudi Arabia issued 34 new minings licenses, bringing the total number of permits in the industry to 2,365.

Of those 1,475 licenses are for building materials quarries and 644 for exploration.

Source: www.arabnews.com