RIYADH: With the prices of valuable minerals, especially gold, copper and zinc rising, Saudi Arabia expects the value of its current mineral wealth to double from the previously estimated SR5 trillion ($1.3 trillion), CEO of the Saudi Geological Survey Abdullah Al-Shamrani told Asharq Al-Awsat.
For instance, the current value of zinc increased to SR3,000 from SR1,000 during the last period while the price of copper jumped from SR2,500 to SR10,000 a ton, he explained.
This rise in prices looks set to continue with the high demand for metallic minerals, Al-Shamrani said.
As the prices of these valuable minerals have almost doubled, this enhances the strength and value of the Saudi economy, especially in the mining sector, which currently has 13 Saudi and foreign companies operating in the Kingdom.
Al-Shamrani revealed that the Kingdom is going “aggressive” on exploration, and the increased expenditure will “expedite the mining sector targets” and would help in discovering more locations.
Saudi Arabia’s plan to triple its spending on the exploration of metals over the next three years will further boost the country’s mineral wealth. The aim is now to almost triple exploration spending to SR220 per square meter within the next two to three years, he revealed.
The CEO added that the number of mining sites in the Kingdom could exceed 5,500.
“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 time to develop all these resources with the help of international investors who will be in need of more data.”
When asked about the key minerals that Saudi Arabia possesses, Al-Shamrani 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 renewable energy and the good thing is that Saudi Arabia has those minerals.”
Other strategic minerals found in the Kingdom include copper, zinc and Saudi silica, the latter being one of the most highly concentrated around the world. However, he said 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,” Al-Shamrani said. Some minerals, such as phosphate — which is used for fertilizers — are important to fulfill goals such as food security.
He added that the Kingdom has “very good potential” in supplying specific traditional minerals including gold and silver.