Saudi Arabia is set to inaugurate a SAR85bn ($22.7bn) mining project in the country’s northern region as part of its plans to diversify the economy away from hydrocarbons.

To be held later this week, the inauguration ceremony will be attended by King Salman, Reuters reported, citing energy minister Khalid al-Falih’s statement to Al Arabiya TV.

The proposed Waad Al-Shamaal project is a 440km² city for mining industries in the region.

Falih added that the project will create 10,000 jobs.

Saudi Arabia is undertaking the mining project as part of an industrial scheme aimed at developing its northern region.

The kingdom is keen on developing the mining industry and intends to more than triple the sector’s contribution to the nation’s economic output by 2030.

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The region is estimated to contain 500 million tonnes of phosphate ore, which represents around 7% of global proven reserves. According to authorities, the reserves are mainly located in the Al Jalamid and Umm Wu’al areas between Arar and Turaif.

Based on the energy ministry’s estimates, Saudi Arabia’s unused mineral resources are valued at around SAR5tn ($1.33tn).

As part of the economic diversification plans, the country intends to shift towards mining its untapped reserves of bauxite, phosphate, gold, copper and uranium.

“The country intends to shift towards mining its untapped reserves.”

Falih told Al Arabiya that the kingdom will bring a new law to encourage foreign investment in the mining sector.

The Saudi Arabian Mining Company, which is also known as Ma’aden and is 65% owned by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, is currently the only mining company, producing gold and copper. The company has expanded into the production of aluminium and phosphates in recent years.

Ma’aden was undertaking a project to manufacture phosphate fertilisers at its Waad al-Shamal facility with an investment of SAR24bn ($6.39bn).