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Saudi mining reforms garner global recognition for investment-friendly environment

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia mining sector reforms have seen it recognized as the fastest-growing regulatory and investment-friendly environment globally over the past five years, a new report stated. 

MineHutte, an independent research and consultancy firm based in England, has stated that the Kingdom has also been ranked the second-best country globally for its licensing environment. 

This comes as Saudi Arabia saw a 138 percent increase in exploitation license issuance since implementing the new Mining Investment Law in 2021. Permits rose from eight to 19 last year as the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources works to boost mineral production and investment. 

This strategic shift aims to make mining a foundational industrial pillar, with the Kingdom’s mineral wealth valued at an estimated SR9.4 trillion ($2.4 trillion). 

Emma Beatty, chief operating officer and research director at MineHutte, praised the significant and positive transformation in Saudi Arabia, stating: “The transformation in the Kingdom’s mining sector is the most prominent at both regional and international levels over the past five years.”  

She added: “The reforms in the regulatory, legislative, and infrastructural frameworks are the main reasons behind its substantial progress in the international ranking.”    

In its report, the global risk ratings and analysis firm – which specializes in mining law and regulation – highlighted significant progress in the financial policies index, placing Saudi Arabia among the top 10 countries in this category.  

The Kingdom has also advanced in the legislative and regulatory framework metric, emerging as one of the world’s top mining jurisdictions, the release stated. 

The report further emphasized Saudi Arabia’s efforts to develop the mining sector, starting with the launch of the comprehensive mining strategy and mineral industries in 2018.   

This strategy aims to maximize the value of natural resources, supported by the development of the mining investment law, which forms the sector’s legislative and regulatory framework, providing a clear, transparent, and investor-friendly environment.  

Khalid Al-Mudaifer, deputy minister of industry and mineral resources for mining affairs, stated that this top global ranking is the result of efforts to develop the mining sector over the past five years.   

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia revised its estimates for untapped mineral resources, including phosphate, gold, and rare earths, upwards to $2.5 trillion, from a 2016 forecast of $1.3 trillion, according to its mining minister. 

Bandar Alkhorayef said in an interview that this $1.2 trillion increase is a blend of existing resources such as phosphate, along with newly discovered ones like rare earths, and a reassessment of commodity pricing. 

He stated that 10 percent of the increase in the estimate is attributed to the inclusion of rare earth minerals, which are vital for electric vehicles and high-tech products. 

Mining plays a crucial role in Riyadh’s endeavors to develop an economy less reliant on oil, entailing a shift toward exploiting extensive reserves of phosphate, gold, copper, and bauxite. 

Since the launch of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has taken steps to diversify its economy beyond oil and gas, establishing programs and initiatives within the transformation plan to develop the mining sector into the third pillar of the national industry, the report stated.   

The risk analysis report by MineHutte, with Mining Journal, is trusted by industry players and investors globally to choose investment locations, focusing on laws, governance, and infrastructure, as well as incentives, and social standards. 

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