Saudi Arabia aims to boost investment with new mining law

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s cabinet on Tuesday approved a new mining law that aims to accelerate foreign investment in the sector as part of efforts to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbons.

The new law facilitates investor access to financing and supports exploration and geological survey activities, state news agency SPA said, quoting the minister of mining and industry, Bandar Alkhorayef.

“This will help attract local and foreign investors and eventually raise mining sector participation in gross domestic product (GDP),” he added.

The Saudi government aims to more than triple this sector’s contribution to the nation’s economic output and to create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs in the sector by 2030.

Riyadh’s efforts to build an economy that does not largely rely on oil and state subsidies involves a shift towards mining vast untapped reserves of bauxite, the main source of aluminium, as well as phosphate, gold, copper and uranium.

The energy ministry estimates the kingdom’s unused mineral resources to be valued at 5 trillion riyals ($1.33 trillion).

In April, the cabinet approved setting up a state-owned, joint-stock company for mining services.

Currently Saudi Ma’aden is the kingdom’s sole miner, producing gold and copper and has in recent years expanded into the production of aluminium and phosphates. It is 65% owned by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund.

Reporting by Marwa Rashad; Editing by David Evans