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Saudi Arabia’s mining sector emerges as global leader in regulatory and investment-friendly reforms

Saudi Arabia’s mining sector has undergone remarkable reforms, earning recognition as the fastest-growing regulatory and investment-friendly environment worldwide over the past five years, according to a recent report by MineHutte, an independent research and consultancy firm based in England. The Kingdom has also secured the second position globally for its licensing environment.

The implementation of the new Mining Investment Law in 2021 has led to a 138 percent increase in exploitation license issuance, with permits rising from eight to 19. The Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources aims to enhance mineral production and investment, aligning with the strategic goal of establishing mining as a foundational industrial pillar. Saudi Arabia’s mineral wealth, valued at an estimated SR9.4 trillion ($2.4 trillion), underscores the significance of this strategic shift.

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Emma Beatty, Chief Operating Officer and Research Director at MineHutte, lauded the substantial transformation in Saudi Arabia’s mining sector, attributing it to reforms in regulatory, legislative, and infrastructural frameworks. The Kingdom has notably progressed in the financial policies index, ranking among the top 10 countries in this category, and has emerged as one of the world’s leading mining jurisdictions in terms of legislative and regulatory frameworks.

The comprehensive mining strategy launched in 2018 aims to maximize the value of natural resources, complemented by the Mining Investment Law, which provides a clear, transparent, and investor-friendly environment. Khalid Al-Mudaifer, Deputy Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources for Mining Affairs, attributed the top global ranking to efforts invested in developing the mining sector over the past five years.

Saudi Arabia’s revised estimates for untapped mineral resources, including phosphate, gold and rare earths, now stand at $2.5 trillion, reflecting a substantial increase from the 2016 forecast of $1.3 trillion. The inclusion of rare earth minerals, crucial for electric vehicles and high-tech products, accounts for a significant portion of this increase.

Mining serves as a cornerstone of Riyadh’s economic diversification efforts, aiming to reduce reliance on oil by tapping into extensive reserves of phosphate, gold, copper, and bauxite. Aligned with Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is committed to developing the mining sector into the third pillar of the national industry, further diversifying its economy beyond oil and gas.

The risk analysis report by MineHutte, in collaboration with Mining Journal, provides valuable insights for industry players and investors globally, focusing on laws, governance, infrastructure, incentives, and social standards to guide investment decisions.

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