RIYADH: SHARIF M. TAHA
Published — Thursday 29 November 2012
Last update 29 November 2012 2:21 am
Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi said the volume of Saudi investments in mining had so far amounted to $ 50 billion.
The minister, who was addressing the 14th session of the Arab mineral resources conference in Khartoum, Sudan, said mining licenses awarded to exploit mineral wealth in the Kingdom had totaled 1,700, covering an area of 73,000 sq. km.
The industry based on the extraction of mineral ores has witnessed a rise in terms of quantity, the minister was quoted by the Saudi Press Agency as saying.
He termed the current session of the conference as the most important Arab gathering in the field of mineral resources. He said the conference is aimed at promoting joint Arab work in this area, exchange expertize and attract capital to this sector.
The Saudi minister said Arab lands enjoy enormous geological riches and contain a variety of metallic and nonmetallic minerals. The development of mineral investments in the Arab world during the past decades came through the exploitation of metal ores and establishment of related industries including phosphates, ornamental stones, cement, bricks, glass, paints, ceramics, and building materials. They achieved self-sufficiency in this regard, he said.
The global economic situation requires joint Arab work and mining policies to attract international companies to invest in the Arab mining sector, especially in light of the drop in mining activities worldwide due to the economic crisis in some parts of the world, he said.
The minister referred to a deal signed between the Kingdom and Sudan in 1974 as a model of joint Arab work. The agreement was meant to exploit deep mineral resources in the Red Sea located in the common areas between the two countries. The deal led to the issuance of the first mining license in 2010 for the exploitation of gold, silver, copper, zinc and associated minerals in deep areas of the Red Sea, he said.