The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia opened the $22.7 billion Waad Al-Shamaal project on Nov. 22 with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman inaugurating the project.
Wass Al-Shamall is a 440-square-km city for mining industries in the country’s northern region, Al Arabiya TV said, quoting energy minister Khalid al-Falih.
Reuters reported that it is part of an industrial scheme aimed at opening up Saudi’s north to development that will boost job creation. The kingdom plans to diversify in mining of phosphate ore, bauxite, gold, copper and uranium. The government aims to more than triple this sector’s contribution to the nation’s economic output by 2030.
Saudi authorities estimate the region holds 500 Mt (550 million st) of phosphate ore, around 7 percent of global proven reserves, mainly in the Al Jalamid and Umm Wu’al areas between Arar and Turaif.
The energy ministry estimates the kingdom’s unused mineral resources to be valued at 5 trillion riyals.
Al Arabiya quoted Falih as saying the mining sector will be open to foreign investment after introducing a new law, without giving further details.
Currently Saudi Ma’aden 1211.SE is the kingdom’s sole miner, producing gold and copper and has in recent years expanded into the production of aluminum and phosphates. It is 65 percent owned by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund.
Ma’aden, which is also the Gulf’s largest miner, was developing its third project to manufacture phosphate fertilisers at its Waad al-Shamal facility at an estimated cost of 24 billion riyals.