Arab, Foreign Ministers Stress Importance of Roadmap for Future of Global Mining

As Riyadh is hosting this Wednesday the Future Minerals Forum, under the patronage of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Arab and foreign ministers underlined the importance of adopting a roadmap based on major axes, to maximize the benefits of the mining sector and supply chains, with the aim to achieve economic prosperity.

This came during the 8th Consultative Meeting of Arab Ministers for Mineral Resources, which was organized on Tuesday by the Saudi ministry of industry and mineral resources and the Arab Industrial Development, Standardization and Mining Organization (AIDSMO), with the participation of 25 heads of delegations and officials, representing more than 30 Arab and foreign countries.

Ministers and Delegations

Participants at the meeting called for strengthening cooperation and coordination between governments, their partners in the private sector and civil society, to work together to achieve sustainable, responsible and comprehensive mining development. They focused on the importance of minerals and metals in the equitable transition to a low-carbon energy future, and the role that each country in the region can assume in developing sustainable and responsible mining value chains.

Mining Challenges

The Arab and foreign ministers noted that the global mining sector was facing several challenges, as countries and mining companies continue to deal with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. They pointed that supply chains were recovering with increasing consumer demand, which is compounding the challenge of curbing global warming, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement and the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Glasgow.

In this context, the participants emphasized the region’s ability to help meet global mining needs in the future, thanks to its large reserves and resources.

Metal Sustainability

The participants also discussed challenges facing the future of sustainable minerals, stressing the importance of finding common ground for developing resilient mining supply chains.

They called for the adoption of a roadmap to promote the dialogue between stakeholders on the future of minerals, investment in mining, and cooperation across the region from Africa to Central Asia.

Ministers and participants noted that minerals and metals provide vital development opportunities to achieve a low-carbon economy through new technologies, including electric vehicles, battery storage, and renewable energy sources.

The demand for important minerals is accelerating and is expected to double in the coming decades, and such growth represents a historic opportunity for the region, they remarked.

Global Demand Growth

Addressing the meeting, the Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Badr Al-Khorayef, emphasized the importance of developing the mining sector through the National Industrial Development and Logistics Services Program, to transform the Kingdom into a leading industrial power in this field.

In this regard, the minister pointed to the launch of a comprehensive strategy for the mining industries, which includes 42 initiatives that aim to raise the sector’s contribution to the domestic product and increase investment opportunities, in parallel with the launching of the new mining investment system and a dedicated electronic platform.

Al-Khorayef also revealed the start of the implementation of the General Geological Survey project, which extends over an area of 600,000 square kilometers in the Arab Shield region.

Meanwhile, investors told Asharq Al-Awsat that re-organizing the mining sector locally, in the region and the world, would constitute an opportunity to attract investments.

EV Metals Group Chairman Abdullah Busfar said that the ongoing Mining conference provided an opportunity to attract local and international investors.

“The obstacles facing the sector in our region center on the lack of culture and understanding of long-term investment in mining, in light of the absence of data and information on mineral reserves and quantities. This requires countries to make preliminary explorations and provide data to companies and investors in order to promote this industry.”

He stressed the need to facilitate and expedite the issuance of exploration licenses, in light of the current race to provide the minerals required for the clean energy industry, such as lithium and nickel.

Abdullah Al-Malehi, a Saudi investor, said that the Saudi private sector was engaging in the Kingdom’s mining industry, pointing in this regard to a number of Saudi businessmen and foreign companies which he said were about to launch major alliances in mega projects.

Al-Malehi explained that his company was finalizing the signing of projects with Saudi companies and international investment funds for investments in sites containing copper and zinc within the Kingdom, following a tender by the Ministry of Industry.

He also highlighted great opportunities in the field of exploration, extraction and the production of raw materials.

Al-Malehi added that his company, “Tamayuz” was planning to bring modern technologies and use artificial intelligence in the field of mining, while working on training Saudi skills, noting that the volume of investment in the sector in Saudi Arabia reached 28 billion riyals ($7.4 billion) in 2020.

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