RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will become the world leader in sustainable metal production, as the Kingdom explores its mining potential, as a part of its economic diversification in line with the goals outlined in Vision 2030, according to Khalid Al-Mudaifer, vice-minister for Mining Affairs, Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources.
Speaking at the Mines and Money conference in London, Al-Mudaifer said that minerals are indispensable to the energy transition from hydrocarbons to renewables.
“Decarbonization – the net-zero transition – cannot happen without minerals and metals: a lot of minerals and metals. We need to scale up discoveries and we need to scale up production,” said Al-Mudaifer.
He added: “The World Bank says that by 2050 the production of minerals such as graphite, lithium, cobalt and copper needs to increase by nearly 500 percent to meet the future demand for clean energy technologies. To achieve a ‘below 2°C increase’ future, the Bank estimated that more than 3 billion tons of minerals and metals are required.”
The vice-minister added that mineral and metal supply chains need to become more resilient to meet rising demands, and noted that the ongoing geopolitical tensions have exposed the vulnerabilities in the sector, which may result in “cost spikes of some minerals by 350 percent.”
The minister further pointed out that the potential of Saudi Arabia in the mining sector largely lies in precious and base metals including gold, zinc, copper, and silver, in addition to a few speciality metals like niobium and tantalum.
He went on and said that Saudi Arabia is already the world leader in phosphate fertilizer production.
Al-Mudairef also added that Saudi Arabia is ramping up the green hydrogen production need as a part of its renewable energy push, and the Kingdom will have the largest green hydrogen plant operational by 2026, with a production capacity of 250,000 tons annually.
Earlier in October, during the Future Investment Initiative, Al-Mudairef said that Saudi Arabia’s ambition is to become a global hub for green minerals and related technologies.
“Minerals now are the medicine to heal our planet,” he said.
He added that the mining sector should embrace advanced technologies to reduce carbon footprints.
“We need technologies in discovery and survey, and we need technologies in processing and producing green hydrogen and green minerals and to reduce the footprint for smaller mines for the future,” said Al-Mudairef.