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Speed of Saudi Arabia’s mining approval process contrasts with ‘ridiculous’ slow global pace: Minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s industry minister has hit out at the time taken to award mining licenses across the world as he talked up the Kingdom’s ambition to be a global leader in the field.

Speaking during the Saudi Green Initiative Forum held alongside the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh, Bandar Al-Khorayef said his government would keep “feeding” opportunities to companies who want to tap into the Kingdom’s estimated $1.3 trillion mining sector.

He said Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning mining industry could learn from the Kingdom’s oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors in terms of scaling up production.

Reflecting on the advantage the Kingdom has over other nations, he said: “Globally, the time it takes to have a mining license is just ridiculous.

“Saudi Arabia provides mining licenses in 90 to 180 days, but globally, it takes years of time.”

Al-Khorayef attributed the delays in other countries to the history of the sector not giving back to the community in the way it should have.

The ministry has carried out three auctions for licenses since the beginning of the year, according to Al-Khorayef, and will continue to do so with five coming up for next year.

“We will keep feeding the market with these opportunities to ensure we are at the same speed,” he said.

“We believe in Saudi Arabia in addition to our resources, our geographical location could be a great asset for the global community’s resilience in general,” Al-Khorayef told the SGI Forum.

The Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources was created under the idea of linking the minerals to industry to ensure that the country will be able to benefit from its natural resources in the industrial sector, he explained.

The main purpose was to push resources in the right direction, globally and locally, “not to fall in the trap like other countries where they have taken the resources to be developed or processed somewhere else.”

Al-Khorayef praised how the Saudi oil and gas and petrochemical sectors have their businesses linked together, leading to the highest impact, and he called for the mining sector to do the same thing.

“Looking at our experience in Saudi Arabia, how we link oil and gas business to the petrochemical business where it is really a seamless operation where we were able to get the highest impact,” he said.

“That is why we are more competitive; if we do the same thing in mining, definitely, I am sure that we can do much more than expected,” he said.

The minister highlighted that the country is underserved when it comes to geological surveys, adding: “That is where we are putting a lot of effort to make sure that we understand more and more how much resources we have.”

“I am a great believer that if the world does a good job, we will have the right amount of minerals,” he added.



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