Saudi Arabia is expecting a new commodities investment boom after a report revealed the Kingdom could be sitting on $1.3 trillion worth of rare untapped mineral deposits.
Khaled Al-Mudaifer, vice minister for mining affairs with the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, told CNBC Arabia that he expected the current of mining investments to increase by 150 percent in the next decade.
He added the investment could provide up to 220,000 jobs.
The resources include phosphate, gold, copper, zinc, nickel, and other rare earth minerals.
Mining is increasingly a key element of Saudi Arabia’s economic development, after energy and petrochemicals, as the Kingdom seeks to wean its economy off oil production and exports.
Al-Mudaifer said 1,800 mining licenses — issued tens of years ago — are still valid. The ministry received more than 1,500 licensing requests upon the launch of the new mining law this year, which makes it easier for foreign companies to invest.
Al-Mudaifer said: “This is just a start under the new mining investment law.”
He added Saudi Arabia is looking to be one of the world’s top 3 phosphate producers, and plans to enhance the copper industry by constructing a copper melting facility.
New investments in the mining sector continued to grow with an annual increase of 36.2 percent for the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period a year earlier.
The total number of investment licenses issued in the mining sector has reached 478 since the second quarter of 2020.
Saudi Arabia’s metals and mining sector is creating investment opportunities in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 objectives.
The central and northern parts of the country contain large amounts of bauxite, in addition to deposits of silver, zinc, copper, magnesium, and kaolin.