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Saudi Arabia seen to become leader in sustainable production of metals

Saudi Arabia seen to become leader in sustainable production of metals
Khalid Al Mudaifer, Vice-Minister for Mining Affairs, Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources

Riyadh – Mubasher: International delegates and global mining investors were addressed how Saudi Arabia can become a global leader in the sustainable and innovative production of minerals and metals given that the energy transition from hydrocarbons to renewables is opening the path for it.

This vision is mainly considered as new and diverse untapped minerals super-region emerging, stretching from Africa to the Central Asian part, according to a press release.

During London’s Mines and Money Conference, Khalid Al Mudaifer, Saudi Arabia’s Vice-Minister for Mining Affairs of the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources called for urgent investment in minerals and metals extraction as well as value chains in the Kingdom.

Al Mudaifer stated: “Decarbonisation – the net-zero transition – cannot happen without minerals and metals: a lot of minerals and metals.”

He elaborated: “We need to scale up discoveries and we need to scale up production. The World Bank says that by 2050 the production of minerals such as graphite, lithium, cobalt and copper needs to increase by nearly 500% to meet the future demand for clean energy technologies. To achieve a ‘below 2°C increase’ future, the bank estimated that more than 3 billion tons of minerals and metals are required.”

The World Bank’s expected amount of metals and minerals will be directed for the necessary wind, solar and geothermal power, in addition to energy storage.

Mineral and metal supply chains should become more resilient as the transition accelerates, Al Mudaifer said.

He added: “The pandemic and the geopolitical tensions have shown their weaknesses. And we have seen a rise in ‘resource nationalism.’ As a consequence, we see cost spikes for some minerals up to 350%.”

Saudi Arabia has significant potential based on its precious and base metals, like gold, zinc, copper, and silver. This is besides a few specialty metals, including niobium and tantalum.

The Kingdom has become a global player and leader in terms of phosphate fertilizer production. Estimates for total phosphate reserves are between nearly 2.30 billion to about 7.30 billion tonnes. Furthermore, the total in-situ value of this phosphate resource ranges from $102.40 billion to $321 billion.

Al Mudaifer referred to Saudi Arabia’s role in the hydrogen industry, which includes the establishment of the world’s largest green hydrogen plant. Eight months ago, The Kingdom unveiled a $5 billion project that – from a standing start – would produce up to 250,000 tonnes by 2026.

Regarding the country’s recent successes in minerals production, Al Mudaifer said: “We have helped improve global food security by developing an integrated phosphate fertilizer value chain. We have stabilised aluminum markets by building an industrial city focused on the extraction and production of finished products for the world.”

He added: “And finally, we are working with well-known electric vehicle manufacturers Lucid Motors, and suppliers to the automotive sector such as EV Metals, to build a fully integrated EV ‘cluster’.”

Saudi Arabia will be launching the second edition of the Future Minerals Forum (FMF) in January 2023, with an influential round table including government ministers and their representatives, which will be followed by a two-day conference and exhibition that will bring together 6,000 delegates.