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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Payroll startup Deel partners with UAE to speed up visa processes 

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RIYADH: San Francisco-based startup Deel has partnered with the UAE government to speed up the visa process for foreign workers as the country aims to attract international talent.

The global payroll and onboarding company offers hiring and payment services for companies that are aiming to recruit international employees or contractors.

“I expect this to be a big growth generator for Deel and hopefully a big magnet for talent to the UAE,” Deel CEO Alex Bouaziz said in a statement.

The company said the strategic partnership with the UAE Office for AI, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications will enable its built-in platform and customer base for remote work employees moving to the UAE.

Deel customers will have faster access to UAE’s Golden and Green visas that allow 10-year self-sponsored residence visas or more flexible visas for a shorter period.


Commodities Update — Gold flat; Wheat, soybean fall; Copper heads for worst quarter

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Updated 27 min 33 sec ago

Commodities Update — Gold flat; Wheat, soybean fall; Copper heads for worst quarter

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RIYADH: Gold was mostly quiet on Thursday, but faced its worst quarter since early 2021 as the strength of the dollar kept investors away. 

Bullion’s outlook was clouded by top central banks adopting aggressive tactics against stubborn inflation.

Spot gold was flat at $1,817.07 per ounce by 0339 GMT. US gold futures edged up 0.1 percent to $1,819.70.

Gold prices, set to drop for a third straight month, have fallen about 6.2 percent this quarter. 

Silver slightly up

Spot silver was up 0.1 percent at $20.72 per ounce, while platinum was flat at $916.66. 

Palladium gained 1.2 percent to $1,986.21. However, they were all still headed for monthly and quarterly losses.

Grains fall

Chicago corn fell on Thursday, weighed down by increased chances of rain in growing areas in the US.

Wheat and soybeans also fell.

The most-active corn contract on the Chicago Board of Trade fell 0.42 percent to $6.51 a bushel.

Wheat fell 0.59 percent to $9.24-3/4 a bushel and soybeans edged down 0.02 percent to $17.48 a bushel.

Copper heads for worst quarter since March 2020

Copper prices slipped on Thursday and were set for their biggest quarterly percentage drop since March 2020, hit by worries about a potential recession following a series of interest rate hikes and a slowdown in demand due to lockdowns in top consumer China.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 0.4 percent at $8,371.50 a ton, as of 0437 GMT. The contract has fallen more than 19 percent so far this quarter.

The most-traded August copper contract in Shanghai was flat at $9,555.69 a ton by the midday break.

(With input from Reuters) 


Oil Updates — Crude prices fall amid build in US fuel product inventories; Ecuador’s Oriente crude exports suspended

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Updated 30 June 2022

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RIYADH: Oil prices edged lower in volatile trading on Thursday as the market weighed concerns of global supply and a build in US fuel product inventories.

Brent crude futures for September, the more actively traded contract, were down 45 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $112.00 per barrel at 0711 GMT.

The August contract, which expires Thursday, was at $115.15, down $1.11 a barrel, or 1.0 percent.

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 57 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $109.21.

Ecuador’s Oriente crude exports suspended

Exports of Ecuador’s flagship Oriente crude remain suspended under a force majeure declaration as the spread of anti-government protests hurts oil output, state-run Petroecuador said on Wednesday.

At least eight people have died and road blockades have led to food and medicine shortages. The crisis has halved oil output, the country’s main source of revenue, to some 234,500 barrels per day while forcing reductions in fuel prices, though protest leaders have called the price cuts insufficient.

On Wednesday, the government imposed a curfew and restricted transit in four provinces to restore public order, control violence, secure basic supplies and protect state property, while marking oilfields and facilities as secured zones.

The energy minister said output could be completely halted in a matter of days over acts of vandalism.

Petroecuador has not yet rescheduled the suspended Oriente cargoes, it said in a release. The firm issued a wide force majeure declaration over oil exploration, production, transport and exports on June 18, and enforced the cargo suspension on June 28.

“Once the force majeure is overcome, the company will timely notify companies about operations to coordinate the cargo rescheduling,” it said.

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German oil refiner Bayernoil plans to halt deliveries of diesel and heating oil to customers for several days from Thursday after a lightning strike, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

Bayernoil is the largest oil refiner in Germany’s southern state of Bavaria and the incident adds to two other outages in the same region as Europe’s diesel market suffers from the loss of imports from Russia.


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RIYADH: The main index, TASI, started the last trading session of the week flat at 11,735 on the back of investors’ uncertainty over inflation and the possibility of a recession.

The parallel market, Nomu, began the day 0.96 percent higher to reach 20,927, as of 10:06 a.m. Saudi time.

Aramco, the largest player on the Saudi oil market, started the day in the red, dropping 0.38 percent.

In the financial sector, Saudi Arabia's largest valued bank, Al Rajhi, added 0.12 percent, while one of the Kingdom’s biggest lenders, Saudi National Bank, fell 0.44 percent.

Pharma giants Aldawaa Medical Services Co. and Nahdi Medical Co. both shed 0.44 percent and 0.25 percent, respectively.

Among telecom stocks, stc and Zain declined by 0.30 percent and 1.03 percent, respectively

The market gainers were led by Sinad Holding Co. with a gain of 2.60 percent, followed by Sahara International Petrochemical Co., or SIPCHEM, with a gain of 2.65 percent.

In the decliners' list, Al-Omran Industrial Trading Co. came in first with a 2.11 percent decline, followed by Retal Urban Development Co. with a 1.64 percent decline.

In energy trading, Brent crude settled at $115.19 a barrel and US West Texas Intermediate reached $109.08 a barrel, as of 10:08 a.m. Saudi time.


Saudi Almrakez expects net assets to rise by $2.7bn from property revaluation 

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Updated 30 June 2022

Saudi Almrakez expects net assets to rise by $2.7bn from property revaluation 

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Known as Almrakez, the mall operator is seeking an increase from nearly SR16 billion to SR26 billion in net assets by the third quarter of 2023, it said in a bourse filing.

It will implement the new model according to the IAS 40 accounting standard, as the Capital Market Authority allowed listed companies to use that system from 2022 onwards.

“The adoption of this accounting standard has many advantages to the company, among them that the value of investment properties will be presented at their fair value in the financial statements,” Almrakez stated.

The move will overall enhance the firm’s ability to expand its operations in a faster and more efficient manner by embracing new investment opportunities.