Saudi geologists aim to unlock Kingdom’s $1.3 trillion mineral wealth

A miner at work in the Al Amar gold mine, southwest of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
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Updated 15 October 2020

Saudi geologists aim to unlock Kingdom’s $1.3 trillion mineral wealth

  • The Regional Geological Survey Program (RGP) aims to conduct a series of surveys over the next six years that are set to provide new opportunities for international mining investors
  • The plan has a budget of SR2bn and is being driven by the Saudi Geological Survey which will survey an area of 600,000 km2 across the geological formation known as the Arabian Shield

LONDON: Saudi geologists are collaborating with international colleagues to undertake a vast survey of the Kingdom’s mineral reserves, estimated to be worth $1.3 trillion.
The Regional Geological Survey Program (RGP) aims to conduct a series of surveys over the next six years that are set to provide new opportunities for international mining investors.
The plan has a budget of SR2 billion and is being driven by the Saudi Geological Survey which will survey an area of about 600,000 square kilometers across the geological formation known as the Arabian Shield.
“With the assistance of global experts, and our growing expertise, we can unlock the country’s mineral potential and train local and international geologists,” said RGP Director Wadee Kashghari. “This will be supported by the advantage of the country’s unique geological landscape with limited presence of vegetation cover.” 
The survey represents a key component of the mining strategy that forms part of Saudi Vision 2030. It will be conducted in collaboration with technical experts and contractual partners from different countries such as Finland, China, the UK and South Africa.
Some 500 technical staff are working on the program alongside international partners. 
The project also aims to help progress junior geological scientists through in-depth training.

Decoder

The Arabian Shield

The Arabian Shield is the name given to the Precambrian rocks in the western part of the Arabian Peninsula.


Ski resorts out in the cold as France eases lockdown

Updated 27 November 2020

Ski resorts out in the cold as France eases lockdown

  • Frustrated resort operators count the cost of holiday season restrictions

MEGEVE, France:  Megeve, in the foothills of Mont Blanc, was gearing up to welcome back skiers before Christmas after a COVID-19 lockdown was eased.

But France’s government — while allowing cinemas, museums and theaters to reopen from Dec. 15 — says its ski slopes must stay off limits until 2021, leaving those who make their living in the Alpine village frustrated and, in some cases, perplexed.

“When you’re outside, when you’re doing sport outdoors, that’s not the moment when you’re going to give COVID-19 to someone. COVID-19 is passed on in enclosed places,” said Pierre de Monvallier, director of ski school Oxygene, which operates in several resorts including Megeve.

Announcing a phased easing of the lockdown on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said it was “impossible to envisage” re-opening ski slopes for Christmas and New Year, and that he preferred instead to do so during January.

“It felt like the door had been slammed in our face,” said Catherine Jullien-Breches, the mayor of Megeve, whose green slopes are generally covered with snow by mid-December.

“Unfortunately it’s a real drama for the economies of the villages and the winter sports resorts.”

People who live within 20 km of France’s Alpine resorts will able to visit from this weekend, but with the lifts staying shut, the main draw is missing.

“It’s like going on holiday on the Cote d’Azur and being told the sea is off limits,” said David Le Scouarnec, co-owner of Megeve’s Cafe 2 la Poste.

The problem for the resorts — and the hotels, restaurants, and workers who depend on them for their livelihood — is that their season is short, and they will have little time after the New Year to claw back lost revenue.

Other European authorities are wrestling with the same problem. Italy’s resorts regions are seeking approval for restricted skiing, but Austria, whose biggest cluster of the first wave of the pandemic was at the ski resort of Ischgl — where thousands were infected — is skeptical.

Prevarication cuts little ice, however, with Mathieu Dechavanne, Chairman and CEO of Compagnie du Mont-Blanc, which operates cable cars at Megeve and other resorts.

He said who could not understand why the government allowed trains and metros to operate, but barred him from re-opening. “It’s like we’re being punished. We don’t deserve this. We’re ready.”