Saudi Arabia to seek stakes in mining assets globally

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has joined forces with the country’s state-owned mining firm to create a company that invests in mining assets globally in the transition to a new generation of energy markets

The Public Investment Fund will own a 49% stake in the venture with Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden) holding a 51% interest. The new entity will initially invest in iron ore, copper, nickel, and lithium as a non-operating partner taking minority equity positions in mining assets globally, they noted.

The move comes as Saudi Arabia moves aggressively to diversify away from oil and position itself as a key supplier to international partners of critical minerals required for the energy transition, a message the country has been reiterating this week at the Future Minerals Forum in Riyadh.

The new entity also aims to secure strategic minerals that are essential for Saudi Arabia’s own industrial development, a step being replicated by governments around the world in the race to meet net-zero carbon emissions targets.

Saudi Arabia currently produces copper and has exploration projects in, but not yet major production of, iron ore, nickel and lithium.

The race is on in the new generation of energy markets

Countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada have individual critical minerals lists with the intent of boosting their supply of non-fuel minerals or mineral materials essential to their economic or national security and which have supply chains vulnerable to disruption.

Robert Wilt, chief executive officer of Ma’aden, said the deal marked a significant step for the miner as it develops the mining sector in Saudi Arabia and positions the country as a key ally in securing the metals of the future.

“The global energy transition relies on the strategic minerals needed for renewable energy and battery storage, and our focus on these will give us a foothold in the global commodity value chain, where major supply constraints are combined with growing demand,” he added.

Ma’aden is developing the mining industry into the third pillar of the Saudi economy in line with Vision 2030, a strategic framework to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors.

It already operates 17 mines and sites, producing aluminium, copper, gold, and phosphate, and is announcing a number of new agreements this week in Riyadh. These include an expansion of its copper and gold exploration activities with partner Barrick and the creation of a technology and exploration joint venture with Ivanhoe Electric.

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