Transparent, competitive regulations can help boost Saudi mining ventures
JEDDAH: Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Minister Khalid Al-Falih said Tuesday that the Kingdom needs transparent and globally competitive regulations to develop the mining sector.
“We have a good position in energy. We have good infrastructure and we need to make sure that our labor is competitive as well,” he said.
Saudi Arabia is finalizing a mining strategy aimed at raising annual mining revenues to SR240 billion by 2030, Al-Falih added.
The Kingdom aims to more than triple the contribution of its mining industry to national wealth as measured by GDP by 2030, he said.
The minister made these remarks on the sidelines of the 14th Arab International Mineral Resources Conference taking place at the Jeddah Hilton.
Several Arab ministers in charge of mineral resources, senior officials, experts and leaders of organizations operating in the mining sector are attending the three-day event.
The Saudi Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources has organized the conference in cooperation with the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organization (AIDMO).
The event provides a platform to exchange knowledge and experience among Arab and foreign experts, as well as regional and international institutions working in the mining sector.
It aims to discuss the impact of the mineral sector on the economies of Arab countries, promotion of mining projects and the development of mining legislation.
The delegates are focusing on ways of eliminating obstacles to Arab and foreign investments in the mining industry.
An exhibition taking place on the sidelines of the conference brings together the organizations and Arab and foreign companies operating in the mining industry.
While highlighting the investment opportunities in the mining sector, the exhibition showcases innovative solutions, sustainable development and social responsibility in this sector and successful Arab experiences.
Addressing the media, Al-Falih also said: “Mining is a cyclical industry. It swings from boom to bust unfortunately. In the last couple of years we were in the bust period.”
He added: “We were experiencing a period of excess capacity and low profitability which discourage investors… and then when the economic cycles turn up and demand picks up there is usually a boom period coming, which we expect will be happening (in) the years to come.”
The minister added: “The best time to invest is around this time when the costs are low but it needs to be incentivized by the government. So you need to make sure you are competitive across the cycle.”
Many delegates and exhibitors at the event said they foresee a huge boom in the mining industry due to the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan.
Khaled Juffali, chairman and CEO of Khaled Juffali Co., told Arab News: “I went to the opening (of) Mahd adh Dhahab (first gold mine) in Saudi Arabia with late King Fahd. Since then the industry has expanded tremendously from gold to magnesium to phosphate with fully integrated systems such as rail transportation. The government has invested tremendously into the mining areas.”
Abdullah Al-Attas, assistant president for technical affairs at the Saudi Geological Survey, told Arab News: “This is the 14th conference and it is being held in Jeddah for the second time.”
He added: “We have participated in the previous shows held in Morocco, Libya, Sudan and Egypt. This happens every two years. So we make sure that we attend such conferences to introduce ourselves to decision-makers in the government and the private sector.”
He added: “We are a consultant body in earth science. We explore the non-oil mineral resources in Saudi Arabia. We have a huge data base for minerals around the country. This data is available to investors.”
Gulaid A. Gulaid, managing director of CIT, said: “The conference provides an opportunity to profile the mining industry and to highlight our capabilities and potential to entice potential investors.”
He added: “CIT is a mining contractor since 1993. We have carried out 2.5 million meters of exploration drilling around the Kingdom. We have expanded to a full-fledged mining contractor and we foresee a huge boom in mining industry due to Saudi Vision 2030.”
Talking about the mining conference, Elsheikh Mohamed Abdelrahman Mohamed, member of the advisory committee at Manafai, told Arab News the event is very attractive because it highlights many opportunities.
He added: “Decision-makers from Arab countries are participating in the conference and of course everybody can exchange ideas and share their experience about laws and regulations in organizing mining projects, incentives for investors and the new message of exploration and exploitation of miners.”
Mohammed Youssef, head of Geology Department at Ammco (Advanced Mashreq Mining Co.), said it is very useful to evaluate the mining industry activities in the Arab world.
Sulaiman Saleem Al-Harbi, chairman of Pan Kingdom Holding Company, said: “This is a very important conference and we wish that (the) contribution of mining will help the Kingdom to achieve its 2030 goals.”