Saudi mineral wealth could top $1.3 trillion amid Kingdom’s aggressive exploration plan

Exclusive Saudi mineral wealth could top $1.3 trillion amid Kingdom’s aggressive exploration plan
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Updated 31 January 2022

Saudi mineral wealth could top $1.3 trillion amid Kingdom’s aggressive exploration plan

Saudi mineral wealth could top $1.3 trillion amid Kingdom’s aggressive exploration plan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia expects its mineral wealth to exceed earlier estimates of $1.3 trillion as the Kingdom plans to triple spending on the exploration of metals over the next three years, said the head of the organization responsible for assessing its geological potential.

Abdullah bin Muftar Al-Shamrani, CEO of the Saudi Geological Survey, said that this prior estimate was made a few years ago when prices of minerals were lower.

“Now we have seen that the price is increasing, it is expected that the forecast of...prices is really going to be increased because of that demand of those material,” he said in an exclusive interview with Arab News.

The aim is now to almost triple exploration spending per square meter to SR220 ($58.7) within the next two to three years.

The increased expenditure will “expedite the mining sector targets” and would help in discovering more locations. Al-Shamrani said that the Kingdom is going “aggressive” on exploration.

He added that the number of mining sites in the Kingdom could exceed 5,500.

Supporting a greener future

The Kingdom wants to be part of the global supply chain for raw materials that will go into many viable products to support industries such as renewable energy, he said. 

It's now determined to develop all these resources with the help of international investors who will be in need for more data. The organization known as SGS has developed a huge database for this purpose.

When asked about the key minerals that Saudi Arabia possessed, the CEO said: “We are talking about cobalt, lithium, titanium, rare earth — all of those will make the future more sustainable if they are used efficiently.  The future is talking all about the renewable energy and the good thing [..] is that Saudi Arabia has those minerals.” He said that they are crucial in the global transition to cleaner sources of power.

Other strategic minerals include copper, zinc and Saudi silica, the latter being one of the most highly concentrated around the world. However, it is not only renewable energy-related minerals that are in abundance in the Kingdom.

“When we talk about minerals in Saudi Arabia, we’re talking about around 48 minerals. Some of them are very critical for global needs,” he said. Some minerals, such as phosphate — which is used for fertilizers — are important to fulfill goals such as food security.

He confirmed the Kingdom’s “very good potential” for specific traditional minerals including gold and silver.

Sudden Change

When asked about why the mining sector seemed to take a back seat in previous years, Al-Shamrani replied that exploration spending in the past decade was not enough to focus on the investment potential in the sector.

“But when Vision 2030 indicated that the mining sector should be the third pillar of the country’s industry, a good amount — around SR3.8 billion — was injected into the mining sector.” The aim of this spending, he said, was to invest in the sector to discover opportunities all around the country.

The CEO hopes three points will be agreed on by attendees at next week’s Future Minerals Forum. The first of these is to work out the demand for minerals in the upcoming 10 to 30 years.

The second is to see how these needs will be satisfied. The third is to make sure people are more educated about sustainability and efficiency.

Saudi Arabia is trying to attract a mix of local and international investors in mining opportunities. Al-Shamrani assured international investors that the sector will follow internationally recognized ESG guidelines.

He said certain conditions are being put on the mining sector as the Kingdom pursues its goal of reducing its carbon footprint and becoming carbon neutral by 2060.

“We understand the challenges the mining sector is facing,” Al-Shamrani said.




Saudi Arabia is placing certain conditions on the mining sector as it pursues its 2060 vision of reducing its carbon footprint. (Supplied)

FMF 2022

Riyadh will host this week its first future minerals forum that will attract top industry players and ministers from many countries.

The CEO had three things in mind that he hopes will be agreed upon by attendees in the Future Minerals Forum. 

The first of these is to discover minerals’ needs in the upcoming 10 to 30 years. Secondly, it should be pointed out how these needs would be satisfied. The final thing is making sure that people are more educated about sustainability and efficiency.

FASTFACT

Saudi Arabia is trying to attract a mix of local and international investors in mining opportunities. Al-Shamrani assured international investors that the sector will follow ESG guidelines.

Serving society

“We are full of minerals that will serve humanity around the globe, and within Saudi Arabia,” Al-Shamrani said.
An advantage of the mining industry is that it’s not concentrated in the cities, and with more projects in remote areas, it can help to limit rural-urban migration across the Kingdom.
He cited examples such as Waad Al Shamal, Mahd Al Dahab (Cradle of Gold) and Jabal Sayid; all were virtually empty before but were later developed.

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Saudi-Uzbek trade exceeds $95m in the first half of 2022

Saudi-Uzbek trade exceeds $95m in the first half of 2022
Updated 17 August 2022

Saudi-Uzbek trade exceeds $95m in the first half of 2022

Saudi-Uzbek trade exceeds $95m in the first half of 2022
  • The two countries will bolster ties further with the signing of 12 new deals this week

RIYADH: The mutual trade between Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Uzbekistan reached $95 million in the first half of 2022, a substantial increase considering that bilateral trade barely exceeded $17 million last year.

According to a joint news statement, the value is expected to grow rapidly by the end of 2022. The numbers assume significance in the aftermath of the pandemic.

In fact, the number of Uzbek companies running on Saudi funds increased from about nine to 38 in the last five years. Of the 38, 19 are sole proprietors, and the rest are joint ventures.

The two nations will bolster the ties further by signing 12 new agreements on Wednesday and Thursday when Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev visits the Kingdom.

According to an Uzbek state agency, high-level talks will take place in Jeddah, where the two nations will discuss opportunities to enhance multilateral cooperation further.

The discussion will focus on the green economy, technology and digitalization, innovations, small business and entrepreneurship. 

Following the meeting, new agreements are expected to be signed in the energy, telecommunications, agriculture, chemical and petrochemical industries, besides encouraging ties in culture, sports and education.

The Kingdom has become one of the largest foreign investors in energy infrastructure and one of Uzbekistan’s most significant developers of green energy projects.

ACWA Power’s Uzbek interests

Recently, the Ministry of Energy of Uzbekistan and Saudi energy company ACWA Power signed several investment agreements for about $3 billion.

ACWA Power will develop and operate a wind energy project with a production capacity of 1,500 MW in the Karakalpakstan region of Uzbekistan.

When commissioned, the plant will become the largest of its kind in Central Asia and one of the largest wind power plants in the world. 

FASTFACTS

• The number of Uzbek companies running on Saudi funds increased from about nine to 38 in the last five years.

• Recently, the Ministry of Energy of Uzbekistan and Saudi energy company ACWA Power signed several investment agreements for about $3 billion.

• The Saudi Fund for Development has contributed to the implementation of many projects in Uzbekistan, including funding the Samarkand-Gozar Road project, with a total value of $30 million.

ACWA Power also signed an agreement to establish the 100MW Nokus wind farm project, the first renewable energy project to be implemented in partnership with Uzbekistan’s public and private sectors.

The power generating company also won a $108 million wind contract after proposing a tariff of 2.56 cents per kilowatt-hour, the lowest in Uzbekistan.

Additionally, the Ministry of Energy of Uzbekistan signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with ACWA Power to establish a combined-cycle gas turbine power plant in Shirin, located in Syrdarya, Uzbekistan. The deal amounts to $1.2 billion.

According to the statement, these projects will contribute to achieving Uzbekistan’s national goal of raising the total renewable energy generation capacity to 30 percent by 2030.

Saudi Fund for Development

Moreover, the Saudi Fund for Development has contributed to the implementation of many projects in Uzbekistan, including funding the Samarkand-Gozar Road project, with a total value of $30 million.

The fund also contributed to 20 projects in the republic, including building pumping stations and other projects involving sewage, chemicals, mining, building materials, water and agriculture.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture of Uzbekistan, the Saudi and Uzbek delegations have discussed issues of cooperation in agriculture, including the prospects for enhancing mutual trade in agricultural products.

Both parties will likely sign memorandums of cooperation in agriculture, veterinary medicine and livestock development at the meeting.

They also agreed to deepen cooperation in the agricultural sector to enhance trade in farming, livestock and other products between the countries.

After signing the memoranda, action plans will be prepared, including specific measures and areas for developing cooperation and joint projects.

The Saudi side invited the Uzbekistan delegation to attend its most prominent exhibition of the agro-industrial complex, which will be held at the end of October in Riyadh.


American Airlines bets on supersonic travel with Boom jet deal

American Airlines bets on supersonic travel with Boom jet deal
Updated 16 August 2022

American Airlines bets on supersonic travel with Boom jet deal

American Airlines bets on supersonic travel with Boom jet deal

CHICAGO: American Airlines Group Inc. on Tuesday agreed to buy up to 20 jets from aircraft maker Boom Supersonic, becoming the second major US airline to bet on ultra-fast passenger travel in the last two years.

The deal brings Boom’s order book to 130 airplanes, including options, valued at about $26 billion, Boom Chief Executive Blake Scholl said in an interview.

The return of interest in supersonic jets comes nearly two decades after Concorde, flown by Air France and British Airways, was retired following a deadly crash and high costs of fuel and maintenance.

Last year, United Airlines Holdings Inc agreed to buy 15 Boom Overture aircraft provided they meet certain safety, operating and sustainability requirements. A similar condition was part of the American Airlines agreement as well.

American also has an option to purchase 40 more of the jets, each of which can carry 65 to 80 passengers, the companies said.

The four-engine Overture jet can fly from Miami to London in just under five hours, cutting the nearly nine-hour flight time between the cities by about half.

American Airlines spokesperson Matt Miller said it was too early to discuss ticket prices, given the aircraft isn't expected to carry its first passengers until 2029.

Supersonic jets have come under criticism from environmentalists for burning more fuel per passenger than comparable subsonic planes.

The Overture jet, being designed to run fully on sustainable aviation fuel or a blend, will be rolled out of Boom’s Greensboro, North Carolina factory in 2025, followed by test flights in 2026.

Third Bridge senior analyst Christopher Raite sounded a word of caution on Boom’s delivery target, saying the delay in conducting test flights for Boom’s other jet, the XB-1, signaled that delivery of the Overture will be delayed.


87,467 families benefit from Saudi housing program in 2022

87,467 families benefit from Saudi housing program in 2022
Updated 16 August 2022

87,467 families benefit from Saudi housing program in 2022

87,467 families benefit from Saudi housing program in 2022

RIYADH: The number of families benefiting from Saudi Arabia’s Sakani housing options and financing solutions has reached 87,467 since the beginning of the year until the end of July. 

Some 104,492 families also received possession of their first homes during that period, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

The program seeks to raise the proportion of housing ownership for Saudi families to 70 percent by 2030.

The Ministry of Housing and the Real Estate Development Fund formed Sakani in 2017 to facilitate homeownership in the Kingdom through the creation of new housing stock, allocating plots and homes to nationals, and financing their purchase.

Earlier this year, Sakani program announced that it aims to enable 180,000 new families to benefit from the program’s housing options and solutions during 2022. 


Oil prices drop over 1% on potential global recession concerns

Oil prices drop over 1% on potential global recession concerns
Updated 16 August 2022

Oil prices drop over 1% on potential global recession concerns

Oil prices drop over 1% on potential global recession concerns

NEW YORK: Oil prices fell over 1 percent on Tuesday in volatile trading as economic data spurred concerns about a potential global recession, while the market awaited clarity on talks to revive a deal that could allow more Iranian oil exports.

Brent crude futures fell $1.41, or 1.5 percent, to $93.69 a barrel, after hitting a session high of $95.95. West Texas Intermediate crude decreased $1.33, or 1.5 percent, to $88.08 a barrel, after rising to $90.65.

The contracts fell about 3 percent in their previous sessions.

The EU is assessing Iran’s response to what the bloc has called its “final” proposal to save a 2015 nuclear deal, and consulting with the US, an EU spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Iran responded to the proposal late on Monday but neither Tehran nor the EU provided any details on the content of the reply.

“It is still unclear what Iran has told the EU last night, so some tricky items might impact the outcome of the nuclear deal,” UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo said.

Weak economic indicators weighed on prices.

US homebuilding fell to the lowest level in nearly 1-1/2 years in July, weighed down by higher mortgage rates and prices for construction materials, suggesting the housing market could contract further in the third quarter.

“Oil traders reacted because of concerns about an economic slowdown and housing uses energy,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures group. “That caught us by surprise.”

China’s central bank cut lending rates to try to revive demand as the nation’s economy slowed unexpectedly in July after Beijing’s zero-COVID policy and a property crisis slowed factory and retail activity.

State media quoted Premier Li Keqiang as saying that China will reasonably step up macro policy support for the economy.

Barclays lowered its Brent price forecasts by $8 per barrel for this year and next, as it expects a large surplus of crude oil over the near-term due to “resilient” Russian supplies.


Saudi Cabinet authorizes transport minister to discuss MoUs with Bahrain

Saudi Cabinet authorizes transport minister to discuss MoUs with Bahrain
Updated 51 min 18 sec ago

Saudi Cabinet authorizes transport minister to discuss MoUs with Bahrain

Saudi Cabinet authorizes transport minister to discuss MoUs with Bahrain

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet on Tuesday authorized the minister of transport and logistic services to discuss with Bahrain two draft agreements to boost cooperation in the fields of road safety and maintenance. 

During the meeting, the council of ministers also authorized the chairman of Education and Training Evaluation Commission to discuss with the UAE a draft initial agreement to cooperate in the development of assessment, measurement and accreditation tools.

The ministers also approved two agreements in the fields of employment and domestic workers with Burundi, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

The Cabinet has also authorized the health minister to discuss a draft memorandum of understanding with the Uzbek side for cooperation in the field. 

It also approved the rules governing the competency and contractor program.