JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is planning to accept new mining license applications in December 2020, said Khalid S. Al-Mudaifer, vice minister for mining affairs and president of Saudi Geological Survey.
He also said the new mineral data of the Kingdom will be publicly available in the coming months.
Speaking at a Mines and Money 5@5 webinar titled “The regional geological survey program — the foundation for a new Saudi mining sector,” Al-Mudaifer said the Saudi mining sector has been earmarked for major investment — local and global — as part of the Saudi Vision 2030.
“The Saudi mining strategy and the Kingdom’s National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP) aim to transform the mining sector into the Kingdom’s third pillar of the industry, effectively creating an industry that could compete globally and stand on equal footing with the Kingdom’s already established dominance in petroleum and petrochemicals,” he said.
The Saudi government recently announced a comprehensive revision of the Saudi Mining Investment Law that provides a robust and transparent legal framework for the mining sector.
Highlight the Kingdom’s ambitious Regional Geological Survey Program (RGP), the vice minister said it is an integral step in developing the exploration and mining sector in the Kingdom.
“(The RGP’s data) would be used to inform the Kingdom’s future mining policy decisions and our ongoing strategic plan for the sector. But the key purpose of the program is to stimulate new investment. That’s why we are committed to the transparent and timely sharing of data with the general public, government, academia, and investors — existing and potential new investors,” Al-Mudaifer said.
He said this data would be available through the NGD (National Geological Database) online, and he expected the initial batch of mineral data could be available within “a few months from now.”
What is equally important, Al-Mudaifer said, is the recent publishing of three registers related to the Kingdom’s mining industry.
“These registers are the license applications register, the issued licenses register, and the mining lots register.”
Al-Mudaifer said that the purpose of these registries is to enhance transparency and provide current and potential investors with the relevant information.
Stephan Sander, CEO of Sander Geophysics, said that the RGP would help reduce risks related to investment decisions, as the surveys conducted would help delineate mineral-rich areas.
Over the next six years, the RGP aims to create a detailed dataset of the mineral resources of the Arabian Shield area, located in western Saudi Arabia, through airborne geophysical surveying, multi-element geochemical surveying, and detailed geological mapping.
Simon Bosch, managing director of Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics, said that the Saudi dataset was long-awaited in the mining industry and that investors should be excited at having a greater understanding of the Kingdom’s mineral landscape.