Saudi Arabia has signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) for mining collaborations with four other nations. Deals have been made with Egypt, Russia, Morocco and the Democratic Republic of Congo at the Future Minerals Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

The MOUs Saudi Arabia has signed with Egypt’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Morocco’s Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development and Congo’s Ministry of Mines of the Democratic Republic involve cooperation in “the field of mineral wealth”, while a separate agreement inked with Russia involves geology. 

Several other initiatives and investments were announced at the event, including Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef’s unveiling of a $182m (SR682.5m) exploration incentive programme alongside the nation’s Ministry of Investment. 

“This programme will de-risk investments in our exploration securing to enable new commodities, greenfield projects and junior miners. In addition, and to drive the existing future of the exploration sector, we are announcing the fifth and sixth rounds of licensing programmes offering access to 33 exploration sites this year,” he said. 

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of the Public Investment Fund in Saudi Arabia, also announced a plan to create the next generation of mining talent. A collaboration between Maaden, the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, has been created to establish the first bachelor’s degree in mining science and engineering. Artificial Intelligence will form part of the curriculum in order to future-proof the new talent rising through the course, a spokesperson for the scheme said. 

At the event, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment, Khalid Al-Falih, noted that the move towards net-zero, and the vast amount of critical minerals needed to drive this transition, will necessitate cooperation between countries across the Middle East. 

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He added: “The demand for materials ([critical minerals] is going to be a multiple of what it is today. A lot of existing production facilities will either decline because of the depletion of resources, or because it is not acceptable from a sustainability and environmental standpoint.”