Saudi Geological Survey signs contracts worth over $530m

Saudi Geological Survey signs contracts worth over $530m
The program takes a three-pronged approach that includes advanced atmospheric geophysical surveys, multicomponent geochemical surveys and production of detailed geological maps. (SPA)
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Updated 19 October 2020

Saudi Geological Survey signs contracts worth over $530m

Saudi Geological Survey signs contracts worth over $530m
  • Six-year long program will help boost the Kingdom’s mining sector

RIYADH: The Saudi Geological Survey (SGS) on Sunday signed several contracts with international organizations and consultants to carry out projects related to the geological survey general program.

It is one of the largest geological surveys in the world, with the budget for all its stages amounting to SR2 billion (over $530 million).

The signing ceremony was held under the auspices of Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef and was attended by Investment Minister Khalid Al-Faleh, Transport Minister Saleh Al-Jasser, foreign envoys and representatives of the international firms awarded the contracts.

Alkhorayef said signing these contracts marks the beginning of the Kingdom’s massive data collection efforts. “It is the first step toward making the mining sector the third pillar” of the Saudi industrial landscape, he said.

The minister said the program will ensure gathering more reliable and accurate data about the Kingdom’s mineral resources, which will help the relevant authorities tap into the vast mineral wealth and lay a solid foundation for a sustainable national economy.

The program takes a three-pronged approach that includes advanced atmospheric geophysical surveys, multicomponent geochemical surveys and production of detailed geological maps.

Providing details about the contract in a statement, the SGS said one of the contracts includes a technical partnership deal with a consortium including International Geoscience Services Co. and Geological Survey of Finland.

A multicomponent geochemical survey contract for the Arabian Shield has been awarded to China Geological Survey. It is aimed at collecting and analyzing more than 110,000 samples of valley sediments and heavy metals in the Arabian Shield over the next 6 years.

Dr. Zhong Ziran, China’s vice minister for geological survey, said that the contract marked the beginning of a great cooperation between Saudi Arabia and China.

The SGS awarded the contract for advanced aerial geophysical survey contract for Sector No. 1 of the Arabian Shield to Sander Geophysics Ltd.

Under the deal, the company will collect and analyze geophysical data, produce various digital geophysical maps, and identify rock formations and evidence of mineralization in the region.

The program currently aims to survey nearly 600,000 sq. km. of the mineral-rich Arabian Shield region.

The other three contracts were awarded to Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics to carry out advanced aerial geophysical survey of sectors 2 and 3 of the Arabian Shield.

Simon Bush, CEO of Xcalibur, said: “It gives me great pleasure to work with the Saudi Geological Survey.”

All these programs seek to boost the contribution of the mining sector to the Kingdom gross domestic product and create 220,000 new jobs.


China economy grows in 2020 as rebound from coronavirus gains

China economy grows in 2020 as rebound from coronavirus gains
Updated 44 min 10 sec ago

China economy grows in 2020 as rebound from coronavirus gains

China economy grows in 2020 as rebound from coronavirus gains
  • Growth in the three months ending in December rose to 6.5 percent over a year earlier
  • China’s quick recovery brought it closer to matching the US in economic output

BEIJING: China eked out 2.3 percent economic growth in 2020, likely becoming the only major economy to expand as shops and factories reopened relatively early from a shutdown to fight the coronavirus while the United States, Japan and Europe struggled with rising infections.
Growth in the three months ending in December rose to 6.5 percent over a year earlier as consumers returned to shopping malls, restaurants and cinemas, official data showed Monday. That was up from the previous quarter’s 4.9 percent and stronger than many forecasters expected.
In early 2020, activity contracted by 6.8 percent in the first quarter as the ruling Communist Party took the then-unprecedented step of shutting down most of its economy to fight the virus. The following quarter, China became the first major country to grow again with a 3.2 percent expansion after the party declared victory over the virus in March and allowed factories, shops and offices to reopen.
Restaurants are filling up while cinemas and retailers struggle to lure customers back. Crowds are thin at shopping malls, where guards check visitors for signs of the disease’s tell-tale fever.
Domestic tourism is reviving, though authorities have urged the public to stay home during the Lunar New Year holiday in February, normally the busiest travel season, in response to a spate of new infections in some Chinese cities.
Exports have been boosted by demand for Chinese-made masks and other medical goods.
The growing momentum “reflected improving private consumption expenditure as well as buoyant net exports,” said Rajiv Biswas of IHS Markit in a report. He said China is likely to be the only major economy to grow in 2020 while developed countries and most major emerging markets were in recession.
The economy “recovered steadily” and “living standards were ensured forcefully,” the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement. It said the ruling party’s development goals were “accomplished better than expectation” but gave no details.
2020 was China’s weakest growth in decades and below 1990’s 3.9 percent following the crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement, which led to China’s international isolation.
Despite growth for the year, “it is too early to conclude that this is a full recovery,” said Iris Pang of ING in a report. “External demand has not yet fully recovered. This is a big hurdle.”
Exporters and high-tech manufacturers face uncertainty about how President-elect Joseph Biden will handle conflicts with Beijing over trade, technology and security. His predecessor, Donald Trump, hurt exporters by hiking tariffs on Chinese goods and manufacturers including telecom equipment giant Huawei by imposing curbs on access to US components and technology.
“We expect the newly elected US government will continue most of the current policies on China, at least for the first quarter,” Pang said.
The International Monetary Fund and private sector forecasters expect economic growth to rise further this year to above 8 percent.
China’s quick recovery brought it closer to matching the United States in economic output.
Total activity in 2020 was 102 trillion yuan ($15.6 trillion), according to the government. That is about 75 percent the size of the $20.8 trillion forecast by the IMF for the US economy, which is expected to shrink by 4.3 percent from 2019. The IMF estimates China will be about 90 percent of the size of the US economy by 2025, though with more than four times as many people average income will be lower.
Exports rose 3.6 percent last year despite the tariff war with Washington. Exporters took market share from foreign competitors that still faced anti-virus restrictions.
Retail spending contracted by 3.9 percent over 2019 but gained 4.6 percent in December over a year earlier as demand revived. Consumer spending recovered to above the previous year’s levels in the quarter ending in September.
Online sales of consumer goods rose 14.8 percent as millions of families who were ordered to stay home shifted to buying groceries and clothing on the Internet.
Factory output rose 2.8 percent over 2019. Activity accelerated toward the end of the year. Production rose 7.3 percent in December.
Despite travel controls imposed for some areas after new cases flared this month most of the country is unaffected.
Still, the government’s appeal to the public to avoid traditional Lunar New Year gatherings and travel might dent spending on tourism, gifts and restaurants.
Other activity might increase, however, if farms, factories and traders keep operating over the holiday, said Chaoping Zhu of JP Morgan Asset Management in a report.
“Unusually high growth rates in this quarter are likely to be seen,” said Zhu.