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Will Saudi Arabia see mining gold rush in 2024?

The kingdom plans to take advantage of the growing demand for critical minerals to power the green transition.
A Saudi mine worker pours a stream of molten gold from the furnace into moulds to produce gold ingots during a press tour at the Al-Amar Gold Mine, 195kms southwest of the Saudi capital Riyadh, on May 28, 2008.

Investors and mining companies are bracing for a deluge of exploration licenses awarded in Saudi Arabia after the kingdom nearly doubled its untapped mineral estimate to $2.5 trillion and announced on Wednesday new incentives for miners.

The Gulf country plans to award more than 30 mining exploration licenses to international investors this year and has revised its estimates for untapped mineral resources to $2.5 trillion, up from a 2016 forecast of $1.3 trillion. The minerals include gold, copper, phosphate and rare earth elements, many of which will be sought after in different forms of renewable energy and zero-carbon materials. Global copper demand, for example, is expected to nearly double to 49 million metric tons by 2035 due to the green transition, according to S&P Global.

The mining contracts will provide a new source of capital for a country that historically has made most of its wealth through oil, helping it realize its Vision 2030 agenda of diversifying its economy away from hydrocarbons. The initiative highlighted mining as a key strategy toward economic diversification, and the kingdom plans to quadruple the sector's contribution to the economy by 2030.

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