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Mining licences granted for six sites in Saudi Arabia

They will spend SAR136 million ($36 million) on exploration, and an additional 15 million to develop local communities Olivier Asselin/Alamy via Reuters Connect
Mining companies will spend an estimated SAR136 million on exploration
  • Five companies to mine for metals
  • Total area of 1,000sq km
  • Maaden wins Nimas site in Aseer

Saudi Arabia has granted exploration rights to five local companies to mine for precious metals at six sites around the country, while a further round of licence bidding has been opened. 

The locations at Al-Halahilah, Jabal Qaran, Makman Hijab, Al-Hijra, Nimas and Al Miyah exploration sites cover a total area of around 1,000 square km in Najran, Aseer, Mecca and Riyadh regions, a ministry of industry and mineral resources official said this week.

The state mining giant Maaden is among the companies chosen, winning the tender for the Nimas site in Aseer. The Al-Halahilah site in Najran went to an alliance of Saudi Eqleed Group and the Indonesia-based Indotan Mining Company. 

There were 18 bidders in total, including some unnamed international companies. They will spend SAR136 million ($36 million) on exploration, and an additional SAR15 million to develop local communities. 

This was the largest area offered to tender so far, and opened to tender in April. The companies will explore for gold, silver, zinc and copper. 

The ministry has opened bidding for a sixth round of licensing this year. 

“This round will offer nine sites, with the aim of encouraging more investments and enabling small and medium mining and exploration companies to participate in developing the mining sector,” a spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, Jarrah bin Mohammed Al-Jarrah, told the official Saudi Press Agency. 

Saudi Arabia has made mining a priority industry for growth. The ministry has offered a mineral exploration incentives package, valued at about $182 million, to encourage interest from domestic and international mining operators. 

The kingdom has only long-shot hopes for mining lithium for its electric vehicle manufacturing plans and uranium that could be used in its nuclear energy programme. 

Maaden has developed a strategy for sourcing lithium from abroad, while the United States is pressing the government to buy uranium on the open market.

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