In a move to diversify its economy away from oil, Saudi Arabia has entered the global mining industry through a $2.6 billion deal to acquire a 10% stake in Vale SA’s base metals division. The investment is a joint venture between the country’s sovereign wealth fund and state mining company, Ma’aden, and is expected to close in early 2024 pending regulatory approval.
The funding will give Saudi Arabia access to various mining sites that produce critical minerals and metals, particularly those needed for the energy transition and the growing demand for electric vehicles. This strategic move aligns with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s focus on the mining industry as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the country’s economy.
As Saudi Arabia bets on alternative energy sources, its $170 billion mining plan is expected to attract global miners. With significant petroleum reserves, the country believes it also possesses over $1 trillion worth of untapped minerals. By exploring these deposits and increasing production, Saudi Arabia aims to achieve its decarbonization goals.
The $2.6 billion stake in Vale SA provides Saudi Arabia interests in copper, nickel, and other critical minerals. This represents the country’s first major investment in the global mining industry.
Vale, Brazil’s largest miner, plans to invest up to $30 billion in new projects for copper and nickel mining, which are crucial for manufacturing electric cars. The company claims that the additional funds from Saudi Arabia have raised the implied value of its base metals division to $26 billion. Vale’s chief executive emphasized the company’s ability to meet the growing demand for green metals necessary for the global energy transition.
One of these critical metals is lithium, which Saudi Arabia intends to build processing facilities for as part of its plan to establish a battery supply chain. The country aims to become a major player in the EV battery metals market and has plans to develop a $2 billion EV battery metals plant in partnership with EV Metals Group.
As the demand for electric vehicles continues to rise, lithium companies are also increasing their efforts to supply this critical metal. Saudi Arabia’s ambitions to become a global leader in the minerals and metals market will attract billions of dollars of investment, further driving the transition to a global clean energy system.
Overall, Saudi Arabia’s entry into the mining industry marks a significant step towards diversifying its economy and positioning itself as a key player in the global energy transition.
Source: Energy portal