Saudi Arabia: Next steps in licencing process for its largest mining site


Saudi Arabia has announced the next steps related to the awarding of licences for the Khnaiguiyah project, the kingdom’s largest mining exploration site.

Interested prospective investors can submit an expression of interest and complete a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) by visiting Khnaiguiyah licencing round, the Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources (MIM) said on Monday.

The Khnaiguiyah site, which covers more than a 350-square-kilometre area, is located in Al Rayn terrane. It forms part of the Arabian Shield, which has a potential value of $1.3 trillion across 48 commodities, according to official data.

Qualified bidders are invited to submit their completed PQQ by March 14.

The award process will include three stages – qualification, proposal and auction — each of which could feature multiple rounds. The ministry expects to conclude the process in the second quarter of this year.

Extensive exploration work already has been carried out at Khnaiguiyah, including 100,000 metres already drilled and a three-dimensional geological model.

The Saudi Geological Survey has confirmed the site’s considerable geological potential of approximately 26 million tonnes of zinc and copper, both critical minerals for the global energy transition.READ MORESaudi Arabia’s Ma’aden awards contract for $880m gold mine projectSaudi Arabia transfers 4% of Aramco shares to sovereign wealth fund

Expansion of the country’s industrial and mining sectors is an important part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plans.

In 2020, the kingdom approved a mining law to boost foreign direct investment in the sector. The law, which came into effect in January 2021, will help the country explore mineral resources worth about 5 trillion riyals ($1.3tn), with 20 million ounces of gold reserves below ground, according to Invest Saudi.

Saudi Arabia currently accounts for nearly 37.9 per cent of the Middle East and Africa’s $16 billion metals and mining industry market.

The estimated size of investment at the Khnaiguiyah project stood at 2bn riyals, the ministry said.

It could potentially generate 2,000 to 3,000 direct and indirect jobs and would contribute substantially to developing the country’s zinc and copper downstream industries.

“This tender process is based on the new Saudi mining investment law, which was developed following extensive global benchmarking and is among the most competitive in the world,” the ministry said.

“The law is part of an overarching effort led by MIM to transform and attract investment in its mining sector, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which identified mining as the third pillar of industrial growth,” it added.

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