Saudi Arabia expects to generate $2.5 trillion from mining boom

To accelerate exploration and development, the country plunged $182 million into incentives last year

Seams of gold-rich ore streak across a mining face at the Al-Amar Gold Mine, southwest of Riyadh. (HASSAN AMMAR/AFP via Getty Images)

​​Saudi Arabia is digging deeper to capitalize on the vast mineral wealth beneath the kingdom, according to a new government report. In addition to its vast oil reserves, the country is also sitting on gold, phosphate, bauxite, copper, zinc and nickel. The mineral abundance’s value is estimated at $2.5 trillion, the latest government figures show.

To accelerate exploration and development, the country has poured $182 million in incentives through the end of 2023 with the Saudi Industrial Development Fund covering up to 75% of eligible project costs, according to Vice Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources for Mining Affairs Khalid Al-Mudaifer. The mineral wealth “presents a crucial opportunity to expand non-oil revenue streams alongside the oil and petrochemical industries,” his ministry said on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s second-biggest oil producer, may well emerge as a critical player in the energy transition amid the discoveries as some of the minerals are linchpins in our current electrification era. As recently as 2022, the potential value of untapped minerals beneath the Saudi desert was put at $1.2 trillion.

The massive exploration efforts have more than doubled that figure in two years. Bob Wilt, CEO of the Public Investment Fund-backed mining company Ma’aden, told The Circuit in January that he believes it is the largest mineral exploration effort underway anywhere in the world. “We just had great luck,” he said. 

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